The Haunted History of the Driskill Hotel in Austin


The Driskill Hotel in Austin is famous for more than just its luxury and style; it has a haunted history that captures the imagination. Built in 1886, this historic hotel is said to be home to several ghosts. Guests and staff have reported strange occurrences, like flickering lights, eerie sounds, and ghostly apparitions. One of the most famous ghosts is that of a young girl who tragically died on the grand staircase. If you enjoy spooky stories, this hotel offers a chilling glimpse into the past, making it a must-visit for ghost hunters and thrill-seekers alike.

Origins of The Driskill Hotel

The Driskill Hotel started in the 1880s when Col. Jesse Driskill bought a lot in Austin, Texas, for $7,500. This move set the stage for one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Located at Sixth and Brazos Streets, the hotel opened in December 1886. It featured Romanesque-style architecture with pillars, arches, limestone, and marble.

In January 1887, the hotel hosted its first major event: the inaugural ball for Texas Governor Sul Ross. This event began a tradition of hosting important guests and events, making the Driskill Hotel a top spot in Austin. Its rich interiors and fancy rooms drew many high-profile visitors, setting a new standard for hotels.

Today, walking through its halls, you can still feel the grandeur of its early days. The Driskill Hotel stands as a testament to Col. Jesse Driskill’s vision and the lasting charm of its architecture.

Colonel Jesse Driskill’s Legacy

Despite facing financial problems and business failures, he stayed committed to his dream. His dedication to the Romanesque Revival style has made a lasting mark. The hotel’s history keeps its legacy alive and well.

Driskill’s Grand Vision

He had a big dream for Austin. In 1884, he bought the land to build the hotel, aiming to create a fancy spot that showed off Texas’s wealth. With its unique Romanesque design, it quickly became a symbol of luxury.

The hotel was more than just a place to stay—it was an experience. When Texas Governor Sul Ross held his inaugural ball there in January 1887, people were amazed by the grand interiors, with marble floors, detailed woodwork, and rich furnishings. It was made to impress the richest Texans and important visitors.

Driskill Hotel

Colonel Driskill’s dream lives on in the hotel’s walls. His effort to make a landmark in Austin succeeded, and the Driskill Hotel still stands as a symbol of luxury and history.

In 1995, Great American Life Insurance restored the hotel, making sure Driskill’s vision would last for future generations.

Business Downfall and Resilience

Despite his grand vision, financial hardships forced him to give up ownership of the hotel. He made his initial investment by selling cattle to the Confederate Army during the Civil War, but severe debts led to his loss of the hotel. His dream of a luxurious haven in Austin faced multiple challenges. Yet, the hotel’s historical resilience shows through its continued operation and storied past.

Enduring Historical Impact

The hotel’s historical impact highlighted his vision and hard work. The hotel held its first ball for Texas Governor Sul Ross in 1887, quickly becoming a symbol of high society.

The hotel hosted many notable events and guests, including President Lyndon B. Johnson. The former president had important moments here, like his first date with Lady Bird in 1934 and hearing about his re-election in 1964.

Ghostly Encounters on the Fourth Floor

Stepping onto the fourth floor of the hotel, you might see child apparitions, hear strange piano music, or feel sudden cold spots. These spooky events have left many guests both scared and curious.

Mysterious Child Apparitions

The hotel is well-known for its ghostly encounters, particularly the apparition of a child named Samantha Houston. Guests often report seeing Samantha, known as ‘Samantha the Child Specter,’ playing with a ball on the fourth floor. Her presence has significantly contributed to the hotel’s reputation as one of Austin’s most haunted locations.

Visitors on the fourth floor might hear the unsettling sound of a ball bouncing or the faint giggles of a child. These incidents are attributed to Samantha, who tragically lost her life in the hotel many years ago. Her ghostly figure is frequently spotted near the grand staircase.

Eerie Piano Music

Guests at the Driskill Hotel often hear eerie piano music echoing through the halls of the fourth floor. This haunting melody adds to the hotel’s already haunting reputation for paranormal activity.

Many visitors have described feeling a chilling presence as the ghostly music fills the air, creating a spooky atmosphere that sends shivers down your spine.

The hotel offers no clear explanation for the source of this mysterious piano playing. Some speculate that the music is being played by a haunted pianist from the hotel’s past.

Unexplained Cold Spots

Visitors at the hotel often feel sudden unexplained cold spots on the fourth floor, heightening the sense of ghostly encounters. These cold spots are one of the reasons the hotel is considered one of the most haunted locations in Austin. 

Guests frequently report experiencing sudden drops in temperature. The chilling sensations often occur in specific areas of the fourth floor.

Reports suggest that these unexplained cold spots are more than just temperature irregularities. They seem to be connected to the haunted history of the hotel, adding an extra layer of conspiracy for those seeking ghostly encounters. When you visit, you might find yourself shivering unexpectedly, even if the rest of the building feels warm.

The Haunted Suite 525

The room at this hotel is known for its haunting presence of two heartbroken spirits. Called the haunted suite, it has a chilling reputation among visitors and staff. The hotel has seen many strange events, especially in this room. The ghosts of two jilted lovers are said to haunt the space, adding a touch of tragic romance.

One ghost is believed to be a socialite who took her own life in Room 525. People report seeing her wandering the hall, sometimes carrying packages or a pistol before disappearing into the room. Guests often mention spotting a mysterious figure matching this description. This ghostly socialite, along with the other heartbroken spirit, adds to the room’s creepy atmosphere.

Inside the haunted suite, visitors often feel sudden cold spots and unexplained feelings of sadness or dread. The presence of these lost lovers is strong, making Room 525 a must-visit for those curious about the paranormal. If you ever stay at The Driskill Hotel, be prepared for a possible encounter with the supernatural in this famously haunted room.

Samantha Houston’s Tragic Tale

Driskill Hotel Austin, Texas

One of the most captivating stories at The Driskill Hotel is that of Samantha Houston, a ghost child said to haunt its grand staircase. According to legend, she fell to her death while playing with a ball on the stairs. This tragic event has left a haunting mark on the hotel’s atmosphere.

As you go up or down the grand staircase, you might feel a strange presence. Many guests have reported hearing the sounds of a child giggling and playing. Some even claim to have seen a little girl in old-fashioned clothes.

Despite many searches, historians have found no solid proof of Samantha Houston’s ghostly tale. Still, her story lives on, adding a mysterious and frightening touch to the hotel’s haunted history.

The Ghost of Peter Lawless

As you wander the haunted halls of the Driskill Hotel, you might encounter the ghost of Peter Lawless, a former Texas Senator who met a tragic end within these storied walls. Lawless reportedly died in the hotel after losing his fortune in a high-stakes poker game. His ghostly presence is said to roam the hotel’s corridors and rooms.

Unexplained Phantom Smells

The strange cigar-like smell puzzles many guests and is linked to the hotel’s haunted reputation. Imagine walking through the halls and suddenly being surrounded by the smoky aroma—it’s enough to give anyone chills.

Many people mention these phantom smells in their reviews which adds to the hotel’s fame as a haunted place. Guests say the scent is strong and stays long after they leave the area. Some think it comes from a male ghost, dressed like a 19th-century cowboy, who haunts the hotel.

This scent adds to the creepy atmosphere, drawing in those interested in ghosts. Despite the hotel’s no-smoking rule, the smoky aroma keeps surprising visitors and staff. It reminds everyone that the past might still be present in this historic hotel.

Modern-Day Hauntings and Stories

Today, guests at the Driskill Hotel have spine-chilling experiences that keep its haunted legacy alive. Visitors report smelling cigar smoke in empty hallways and feeling the presence of a child ghost named Samantha Houston. The hotel’s reputation for being haunted continues through countless shared tales.


The Haunted History of the Driskill Hotel in Austin is a fascinating blend of spooky tales and history. With its grand architecture and mysterious past, the hotel attracts many curious visitors. 

People love hearing about the ghost sightings and unexplained events that have happened over the years. These stories make the hotel more than just a place to stay; they make it an exciting destination.

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