PORT COSTA, CA — If the rumors are true, then one of the most haunted places in the Bay Area is right here in Contra Costa County: the Burlington Hotel in Port Costa.
Touted as the “Victorian jewel of historic Port Costa, California,” the Burlington Hotel is “set in a canyon in John Muir country on the shores of the Carquinez Strait and surrounded by sprawling parkland and open space, the hotel offers a glimpse into the region’s colorful past … and 19 unusual rooms to choose from.”
One source describes it as an, “Historic three-story 18-room hotel with a reputation for disarray, vintage trappings, and playful spirits. It may have been a bordello, but no one knows for sure. Look for the E Clampus Vitus historical plaque.”
A cruise by showed the plaque was still in place:
The Burlington Hotel
Port Costa’s old timers are quite certain that the rumor of the Burlington Hotel being a bordello is untrue. The reasoning is that the respected owners and their families lived nearby, therefore it could not have been a bordello.
However, the archives of the ancient and honorable order of E. Clampus Vitus will once and for all put to rest these rumors. Our records indicate that not only was the Burlington Hotel a bordello but it was highly ranked among the California bordellos of the era. This five star rating was maintained for many decades in the early 1900s.
Dedicated by Joaquin Murrieta Chapter 13
E. Clampus Vitus
Bordello as in brothel; “Credo Quia Absurdum” as in “I believe because it is absurd.”
The Burlington Hotel was built when Port Costa was a stop on the Transcontinental Railroad.
“There were businesses built on the docks — boarding houses, saloons, shops — but the Burlington would have been the place ‘in town’ where people who wanted to avoid the riff-raff would have stayed,” according to another source.
When the Benicia Bridge was built in the 1930s, Port Costa “went from boom to bust, immediately ending the need for the train ferries that supported the waterfront town.”
When the Warehouse Cafe opened across the street from the hotel, many a patron reportedly stumbled into the Burlington for a tipsy tryst or a place to sleep it off, helping restore the hotel’s lagging business.
According to a more frightful account, the Burlington has a reputation of being one of the oldest operating hotels in California, if not the oldest, which could explain the invisible figure who taps guests on the shoulder.
“In its heyday, the building was known for the parties that were thrown on its grounds and is said to have been used as a brothel. Some of the guests who used to frequent it may still be here.”
HAUNTED OR NOT?
In an effort to confirm or dispel rumors it is haunted, Patch reached out to the Burlington Hotel; should we hear back we’ll update this post.
A reporter who visited the hotel in 2018 and spoke to the hotel manager was told that ghost hunters are kicked out of the hotel because “they’re just too disruptive.”
“People have come and looked around in the evening when there’s guests in the room, and they get themselves all freaked out,” the manager told KALW. “There’s like, squealing, in the hallways. Like, you know, high key … lady screams.”
The manager admitted the building is old and parts of it may seem spooky, like the peeling wallpaper or the tarnished mirror on the third floor, but said she canceled people’s reservations if she found out they were seriously investigating paranormal activity.
The hotel is “something that commands respect. Just like being older than anyone that’s alive today commands respect,” the manager said.
An “Open” sign has been seen hanging in the window, and since the Burlington Hotel’s website lists a phone number, it appears one can still make a reservation to stay overnight at 2 Canyon Lake Drive in Port Costa — if they dare.