The Cecil Hotel (now rebranded as Stay on Main) in Downtown Los Angeles (640 S. Main Street) is a budget hotel with 600 guest rooms (originally 700).
The Cecil was constructed in 1924 by hotelier, William Banks Hanner, as a destination for business travelers and tourists. Built in the Art Deco style, the hotel cost $1,000,000 to complete and boasted an opulent marble lobby with stained glass windows, potted palms, and alabaster statuary. Hanner had invested confidently in the enterprise, in the knowledge that several similar hotels had been established elsewhere downtown, but he had been unable to predict that within five years of its opening, the United States would sink into the Great Depression. The road on which the hotel stood - Main Street - quickly declined into the area known as Skid Row, with as many as 10,000 homeless people living within a four-mile radius and by the 1950s it had gained a reputation as a residence for transients. A portion of the hotel was refurbished in 2007 after new owners took over.
The Hotel is known for several suicides and its criminal activity which includes three murders. Most notably, the hotel was the reported residence for serial killers Richard Ramirez in 1985 and Jack Unterweger in 1991.
On 19 February 2013, the naked body of Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian student, was found inside one of the water supply tanks on the hotel roof. Lam had gone missing almost three weeks earlier, on January 31 2013, and her decomposed body was discovered by a maintenance worker in one of the rooftop water tanks, after guests had complained about low water pressure and water that "tasted funny". Authorities later ruled Lam's death as an accidental drowning. Video surveillance footage taken from inside an elevator showed Lam acting strangely, pressing multiple elevator buttons, hiding in the corner of the elevator, and waving her arms wildly, causing widespread speculation about the cause of her death. After the elevator video was made public, many started to believe in a more paranormal explanation, some even going to the extent to claim Lam was possessed. Lam was thought to have had bipolar disorder, which could have contributed to her death as well as her strange behavior in the elevator.
In 2011, the Cecil Hotel was re-branded as "Stay on Main", and a new website, stayonmain.com, was created. The old website thececilhotel.com continued online, though, until the end of 2013.
On 13 June 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported that the body of a twenty-eight year old male had been found outside the hotel. It was conjectured that the male may have committed suicide by jumping from the hotel, though a spokesperson for the county coroner informed the newspaper that the cause of death had not been determined and that his name would not be released until his family could be notified.
Paranormal activity is so commonly reported at the hotel that in 2015, the TV show American Horror Story: Hotel was loosely based on the hotel.