Is the Cecil Hotel still open and can you actually stay there?

Some people's vacation plans are, um, questionable.

os Angeles, California, USA. 22nd February 2013. A view of Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, 22, 2013. The coroner's office conducted an autopsy on a 21-year-old Canadian tourist who was missing for weeks before being found in a water tank atop a downtown Los Angeles hotel where she had been staying, but postponed any conclusions for additional testing. Elisa Lam of Vancouver, British Columbia, had been missing since Jan. 31, when she stopped making daily contact with her parents, according to Los Angeles police. Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Live News
(Image credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo)

If you're a fan of genuinely terrifying stories and quite like not being able to sleep at night, then make sure you keep reading for the lowdown on the Cecil Hotel!

It's no secret that seriously macabre fame surrounds the Cecil Hotel, the location at the heart of Elisa Lam's tragic death, and the Netflix docuseries Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel. 

What happened to Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel?

The entire case is shroud in mystery, so it's no surprise then, that one of the most frequently asked questions is: What really happened to Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel? 

For Cecil Hotel newbies, here's a quick recap: the 21-year-old Canadian student disappeared at the hotel during her stay there in 2013. While searching for Elisa, the LAPD released CCTV footage of her in the hotel's elevator, exhibiting bizarre behavior, peering around the doors, and apparently speaking to someone—rather conveniently out of sight—before running out into the hallway. Nineteen days later, her naked body was found in a water tank on the roof of the hotel. 

Elisa's death was eventually ruled an accident but that hasn't dampened the conspiracy theories. In some ways, it's hardly surprising when you deep dive into the hotel's dark history—and how many murders were committed at the Cecil Hotel.

Even after rebranding itself as the boutique hostel Stay on Main, the space remained known as "the most haunted hotel in LA" thanks to its bizarre history of suicides, murders, and serial killer clientele (Robert 'The Night Stalker" Ramirez reportedly stayed there during the height of his murder spree, leaving his bloodied clothes in the parking lot and running up to his room via the fire escape). 

And yet there has been a spike in Google searches about staying there. Seriously, are people OKAY?

Firefighters leave Hotel Cecil after removing a body found inside a water tank on the roof, in Los Angeles, California February 19, 2013. Police were trying to determine on Tuesday if a body found in a water tank on top of a Los Angeles hotel is that of a 21-year-old Canadian woman who went missing while staying there more than two weeks ago. Elisa Lam, a student from Vancouver, British Columbia who was visiting Southern California on her own, was last seen at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on January 31 and authorities had characterized her disappearance as suspicious. REUTERS/Jonath

(Image credit: Reuters/Alamy Stock Photo)


Episode 4 of Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel. c. Courtesy of Netflix © 2021

(Image credit: Netflix)

Is the Cecil Hotel still open and can you stay there?

Not sure why you would want to, but each to their own and all that. 

In 2007 the hotel was sold for $26 million and a section of it was refurbished and renamed the Stay On Main Hotel. The other part of the building remained rented out to long-term tenants from the surrounding Skid Row area.

In 2014, hotelier Richard Born bought the property for $30 million and it continued to stay open. However, in 2017 the building was shut in order to undergo a complete renovation with a gym, lounge, and rooftop pool being added in. The same year, it was named a historic-cultural monument by the Los Angeles City Council. 

Work on the hotel is scheduled for completion in October 2021, but the hotel still remains closed at present. According to reports, the new renovations will include 299 hotel rooms and 264 affordable residential units. The roof, the spot where Elisa's body was found, will apparently be converted into a recreational space for hotel guests. 

The hotel's website doesn't work, but there is an active Yelp page if you're feeling curious...

How many people have died at the Cecil Hotel?

It has been widely reported that 16 people, including Elisa Lam, have died at the Cecil Hotel since its opening. Look, we're sure that if you REALLY were to analyze deaths in hotels all around the world this wouldn't be a shocking figure, but it's the fact that the deaths have either been sudden or shroud in mystery that is downright spooky. 

Fiona Embleton
Fiona Embleton

Fiona Embleton is a multi-award-winning beauty editor who has tested over 10,000 products in her 10 years +  of writing and shooting beauty stories. For the past four years, she was the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, having previously worked in the role of Beauty Editor at both Stylist and Cosmopolitan. She has recently gone freelance and alongside My Imperfect Life, she has written for titles including ELLE UK, ELLE Canada, Buro 247, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Vogue Scandinavia, and ES Magazine. Beauty journalism allowed her to marry up her first-class degree in English Literature and Language (she’s a stickler for grammar and a self-confessed ingredients geek) with a passion for make-up and skincare, photography, and catwalk trends. She loves jumping on the latest internet-breaking beauty news, dissecting the best red carpet looks, and having the crème de la crème of dermatologists, make-up artists, and hairstylists on speed dial so she can tap them for the best advice. She’s a discerning beauty shopper and knows it can be confusing trying to navigate what’s hype and what really works. So if she really likes something, you can trust that she has reached that opinion by vetting it against everything else she’s ever tried. Her career highs? Interviewing Cate Blanchett and winning a Jasmine Award for the deeply personal feature Cancer Stole My Mother’s Scent.