ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Oct. 28, 2015 − My fiancée and I had been asleep in our fourth-floor room at the Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque for just over 30 minutes when I first heard the screaming.
At first I dismissed the sound as a toilet filling with water or some kind of issue with the building’s plumbing. After all, the Andaluz is an historic, Spanish-influenced hotel originally opened by Conrad Hilton back in 1938. While the lobby and rooms were exceptionally renovated in 2008, who knows how deep into the bowels of this venerable hotel those renovations went? I went back to sleep.
When I woke up again three hours after dozing off, I was surprised to find myself ice-cold yet sweating profusely. That windy, whiny hiss I’d heard and dismissed earlier as problematic piping had now grown louder, its higher-decibel complaints leaping and drooping in rough octave intervals ranging in quality from shrill shrieks down to a throaty, mournful groan.
Whereas earlier the sound had been emanating from the general vicinity of the bathroom, it was now rolling in from around the entry door. Or so it seemed until it relocated to the opposite side of our room.
Outside the hotel, a violent desert thunderstorm was in full battle array. The whole gloomy scene was so terrifying that it felt like that famously clichéd “dark and stormy night.” My heart pounded harder each time that strange, metallic howl changed octave and intonation. Somehow, sleep finally came once again as the sound faded out, diminishing along with the thunder and rain as the storm receded into the distance. In the morning, I awoke exhausted. Whatever seemed to have transpired that night couldn’t have been real.
When I first looked to book a room on our way across half a continent, the Hotel Andaluz sounded perfect. This four-diamond, AAA award-winning hotel is downtown Albuquerque’s only boutique hostelry. Reasonably priced at rates starting at $159, this environmentally friendly hotel features well-appointed, comfortable rooms and offers amenities like a top-notch tapas restaurant called MAS and a rooftop bar called Ibiza.
As far as atmosphere, aesthetics and dining are concerned, the Andaluz is more than worthy of its acclaim. For the traveler heading across the otherwise vast space that is I-40 through New Mexico, you could do a lot worse.
The hotel is also pet friendly, a big plus for us, as we usually travel with our two dogs. So as we made our way across the country from Los Angeles to Oklahoma, staying at Andaluz − as opposed to some chain hotel with a sad pool, itchy sheets and weak to nonexistent wi-fi − seemed a welcome respite from our travels.
That said, as I awoke the morning after my night of terror, it seemed as if all that wonderful style and luxury had vanished down the memory hole. Whatever had been shrieking in the room all night had left me rattled and craving a cup of strong coffee. As I lay there with my fiancé still asleep, I carefully retraced my memory of the entire, strange event.
Maybe it was nothing… After all, however strange, it had only been a sound that I heard. It’s not as if some floating, orb-like thing in chains had tried to brush across my horrified face, or some creepy, bug-eyed child gripping a neon balloon had been beckoning me from the corner of the room before transforming itself into a skeleton, a truly disturbing clown or other such protean figure.
It was just a sound….
But, no it wasn’t just a sound. When a pipe hisses or clanks, it doesn’t sound like someone is being dismembered. Toilets hiss for a second or two as they begin to fill, but then they slow down and stop. And even if a toilet does continue to run, it certainly doesn’t do so with the savage howling of some poor, cursed soul trying to escape the eternal grasp of Lucifer.
No, whatever this thing was, it did most certainly hiss in an unearthly way. But it also grunted. It groaned. It sounded as if it were writhing in pain. Hell, at times it even seemed to be angry. Not to mention that all this while, I was shaking and bathed, for no good reason, in sweat. The funny thing was, I felt the room was freezing!
I tried to tell myself it was nothing. That it had just been one of those weird moments that occur between consciousness and sleep where things seem real but actually aren’t. The whole strange tableau seemed quite ridiculous. Moreover, I’m not the kind of person who wants to fixate on dubious subjects like ghosts and black magic and the like.
So I decided to keep the whole, frightening, eardrum-piercing, soul-disturbing event to myself. That is, of course, until my fiancée woke up totally exhausted, claiming she hadn’t been able to sleep either, because she was kept awake all night by the terrifying sound of a woman screaming.
It was time to fire up the laptop to conduct a little online research into happenings like this one. After a quick Google search, things got even scarier. According to the entries I read, ghosts did, in fact, haunt certain floors of the Hotel Andaluz. The seventh floor was haunted by a woman in her forties, clad in party attire and customarily making her appearances in the late afternoon.
A second, different ghost appeared more commonly at night. And she lived on the fourth floor… In the room we stayed in.
Quickly, my fiancée and I gathered our things and made a dash for the car, via the hotel checkout counter.
“Anything weird about this hotel we should have known about?” we asked the hotel clerk as we checked out.
“Nope,” she said.
“Nothing on, say, the fourth floor that might be kind of weird?”
“Nothing we are supposed to talk about,” she replied, cracking a mischievous smile. “How was your stay?”
My eyes took in the Andalusia-influenced lobby and thought about all the things I could have replied that did not involve our visitor from the other side.
“The restaurant was delicious,” I said, as we picked up our bags and made our way to the car before heading into the heart of New Mexico and beyond.