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). Constructed in 1924, the hotel was intended for business travelers but in the 1950s it 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. It is rumored to be one of the last places Elizabeth Short was seen before her murder in 1947.
In February 2013, the nude body of Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian student, was found inside one of the water supply tanks on the hotel roof. Lam went missing January 31, and her decomposed body was discovered on February 19 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.
Paranormal activity is so commonly reported at the hotel that now (2015) a new TV show American Horror Story: Hotel is loosely based on the hotel.