The Embassy Suites Hotel is one of the few hotels in the entire world that is housed inside a local landmark. The structure on this site was a fort, built in 1758 to protect the city. Charleston sold the fort to the State of Carolina in 1789. The building was used as a warehouse to store and inspect tobacco until 1822, when the state decided to build a new fort on the site. Four years later, construction of a new fort, “The Citadel,” was complete. The Citadel was converted into a military school in 1842. In the 1850s, a third story and east and west wings were built on to the Citadel. Federal troops were barracked in the Citadel during the Civil War. Before leaving the city, the Yankees burned the west wing, which was not rebuilt until 1882, when the Citadel Military College opened its doors once again. The military school continued to operate until 1922, when it moved to the banks of the Ashley River.

In 1996, the Citadel was completely renovated as an upscale hotel. In its new incarnation, the Embassy Suites Hotel has a 153 guest rooms, nine meeting rooms, a 2,664-square-foot ballroom, a spacious courtyard, and five-story atrium with a twelve-foot fountain. Amenities include high-speed Internet access, a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, and a whirlpool and fitness center. For those guests who like a good scare, the hotel is also said to offer a very gruesome-looking ghost.

The spirit that haunts the Embassy Suites Hotel is known as “The Lost Cadet.” Witnesses describe the entity as a teenager, dressed in the 19th-century uniform of a cadet. Oddly enough, he is smiling, even though the upper half of his head is missing from the eyebrows on up. Employees, who call this frightful apparition “Half head,” say that the severe trauma to the cadet’s head seems to have been caused by a cannonball. The manifestations of this maimed wraith are so disturbing that some maids are reluctant to enter several of the rooms.

Guests have also made the acquaintance of the “Lost Cadet.” In the early 2000s, a cardiologist flew into Charleston for a conference. When she arrived at the Embassy Suites Hotel, she checked in and went straight to Room 113. At 8:30 the next morning, she was making a pot of coffee, thinking about going to the beach later in the day, when she turned around a saw a young man who was staring straight at her. He was wearing a gray coat with a dark gray stripe down the back. Even more disturbing than the sudden appearance of a man in her room was the fact that top of his skull from the eyebrows up was completely missing. She was so unnerved that she dropped the coffee she was holding and ran screaming to the front desk. The clerk asked her what she had seen, but she just shook her head and wept. The woman checked out and refused to come back into the building.

In spite of the extensive changes that have been made to the Embassy Suites Hotel, it still has a very forbidding look to it, at least from the outside. With its parapets and turrets still intact, the building bears a closer resemblance to a medieval castle than to a four-star hotel. The periodic appearances of the “Lost Cadet” are another reminder of the hotel’s violent past.