We are in Lima: here, the Gran Hotel Bolivar was opened in 1924 in the hope of modernizing the city as a place to house dignitaries visiting the Peruvian capital. During the subsequent half-century, it was the hotel of choice in Lima for Hollywood stars, in addition to acclaimed authors and rock legends. However, then began its slow decline, along with rumors of an interesting paranormal activity.
Back in its heyday, the Gran Hotel Bolivar was an unique place to stay in Lima. Built by government request on state property and designed by Peruvian architect Rafael Marquina, its initial purpose was to serve as a luxury base for visiting politicians. Charles de Gaulle, Nixon, Robert Kennedy, and Emperor Akihito were all guests at the Bolivar, which is located on the regal Plaza San Martin six blocks from the Government Palace.
International statesmen weren’t the only famous Hotel’s guests: also Faulkner, Hemmingway, and Orson Welles roamed the hallways, while the american actress Ava Gardner, considered one of the greatest stars in the history of cinema, danced barefoot in the bar drunk on pisco sours, later to be carried back to her room by a sober John Wayne.
Mick Jagger strutted through the lobby before he and the rest of The Rolling Stones were thrown out for bad behavior, which wasn’t a surprise to anyone while other music stars, including Julio Iglesia and Santana, were far more restrained.
Despite being declared a national monument in 1972, the decline of the Gran Hotel Bolivar were starting to begin. Mismanagement, financial follies, and an owner who supposedly fled the country didn’t help matters: as Lima began to modernize, new hotels bearing international brands flooded into the capital, far outpacing the antiquated charms of the Bolivar.
In addition, there are the ghost stories. Lots of ghost stories!
Entering the stunning lobby of the Hotel, guests are greeted with a stained glass dome ceiling. Roaming its many long curved halls and dimly lit entertaining spaces, in addition the musty smell, worn decor and dated amenities add to its charm and the spread of rumors that the Gran Hotel Bolivar is haunted.
The fifth and sixth floors of the Hotel have been closed for more than a decade. Even if according to the hotel, this is simply due to lack of funds, more fanciful stories tell about a spectral activity so intense that the upper floors were simply shut down for this reason. In fact levels 5 and 6 have been barred from elevator access and each of the hotel’s staircases have been barricaded off. There is no access to staff or the public to these two upper floors that have been left untouched, to decay and accumulate dust for many years.
Among many stories, many guests have reportedly encountered an apparition known as the Woman in White roaming the hallways of the Hotel. She is usually seen for a short amount of time before spontaneously disappearing in front of shocked guests and staff. Another apparition is said to be the ghost of a woman who, years ago, had thrown herself from one of the hotel windows.
Many more have reported encountering the ghosts of former employees at the haunted Gran Hotel Bolivar. The most frequently reported apparition is that of a ghostly bellboy who appears and disappears all throughout the hotel. There is also one account of a sighting of the entity of a former security guard still going about their work duties also after his death in the upper floors of the hotel.
All in all, a holiday at the Gran Hotel Bolivar is as close as you’ll get to The Shining in Peru. Today, it continues to stand proudly, serving as a time capsule of history and tradition overlooking Lima’s bustling San Martin Square. The now three-star hotel is in fact still full of old charm, and the bar at the Bolivar is still well-known for serving the best pisco sours in Peru, as Ava Gardner soon found out!
Images mine with watermarks and from web.