The Mystery Of Room 14

A few years ago, I did a summer season at a country house hotel built by the Victorians in Northern England. It had wooden panelling, large fireplaces in every room and stained-glass windows.

The hotel was very popular with international guests almost all of whom booked to stay there because there was “so much history”. However, this history was also the reason for many of their complaints. Our guests didn’t understand why grade one listed buildings in isolated locations would have:

  • Single glazed windows meaning birdsong could be heard when people were trying to sleep
  • Poor wi-fi connectivity so taxis to somewhere that was two mins away would need to be booked by telephone (imagine the horror of having to make a phone call)
  • No lifts, so the five suitcases they brought for a one-night stay would all have to be carried up the stairs by hand
  • Puddles on the driveway (yes, this was another cause of grievance, we would be asked to ‘sweep away’ the puddles, even when it was still raining)

Every hour of every day, I was told the building reminded them of Downton Abbey, simply because it was a) old and b) in England.

It was also common to be told by an irate guest that they ‘stay here all the time’ and so should be given anything they want. An example of this was somebody telling me they are here every few months and then demanding to see a manager who left seven years ago.

However, there was another group of eccentric visitors we had to put up with. The ones who had read articles online about room 14, which was, allegedly, haunted.

In the time I was there, I never experienced anything unusual in that room (or any other) and neither did any of my colleagues but that didn’t satisfy the ghost hunters. We MUST be engaging in a cover up. There couldn’t be any other explanation. People would turn up at the hotel asking to see that room (even when somebody else was in it), when we explained they couldn’t go into a hotel room at midnight that strangers were sleeping in, that was another sign of the cover up.

Then management had an idea, let’s charge people to see room 14. If it was empty, people could spend £20 to go into the room for an hour. A staff member would stay with them to make sure nothing was damaged (or no other ‘unsavoury activities’ occurred). People brought ghost hunting equipment with them, most of which was homemade. One man brought a coat hanger bent into a circle that he claimed could ‘detect energy’.

For Halloween, we would dress up as Victorians and show people round, telling them (fictional) stories about people who had died there. Then the lights would mysteriously turn off (we flicked the switch when nobody was looking) and the people would scream and then start spontaneously chanting. It was all very odd.

People would book to stay in that specific room. If it wasn’t available, they didn’t want to come to the hotel. It was more than £50 per night more than any other room but they didn’t care. They wanted to see a ghost. The next day, they would tell everyone about their late-night encounters of whaling or moaning. Which, oddly, nobody who worked there ever experienced.

Towards the end of the season, I heard a couple of ghost hunters telling a large group of international tourists that the ghosts were the reason they couldn’t get onto Facebook… It was a shame the ghosts couldn’t carry all that luggage upstairs.

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