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Our little black book of enchanting places

Christmas ghost stories

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Ebenezer Scrooge’s ghosts visit him at Christmas, but for travellers, spectral apparitions can manifest themselves any time of year, with spooks ranging from famous actresses to tragic brides. 

Ghosts are par for the course in Scotland’s castle hotels, but 16th-century Tulloch Castle, above, in Ross-shire has more than most at around 10. The best known is a middle-aged woman said to be Elizabeth Davidson, the daughter of the fourth laird of Tulloch, who died after falling down the stairs. Dubbed the Green Lady, she has has been seen so often – and caught on camera on several occasions – that they’ve even named the bar after her.The fictional hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining was inspired by The Stanley in Colorado’s Estes Park. In a perfect example of life imitating art, after the novel’s publication, the erstwhile benign hotel gained a reputation for paranormal activity and has since been the location for numerous paranormal investigation shows. The Stanley features a number of ‘spooky’ rooms, including 217, the room featured in The Shining, and runs guided Night Spirit Tours, visiting parts of the building said to be exceptionally active.The Langham, London was in the news recently when members of the England cricket team reported ghostly goings-on in some of their rooms. In fact, it’s said to be the most haunted hotel in London: assorted sightings include a German prince on the fourth floor, a ghostly butler on the third floor, and Napoleon III in the basement. But the most frequently seen spectre is that of a Victorian doctor who killed both himself and his new wife in room 333. Fortunately, he only appears in the month of October.The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai is famously haunted by an English engineer called W A Chambers who worked on the building in 1903. According to legend, Chambers went away on a short trip and when he returned, he realised that the hotel’s courtyard faced the wrong direction. He is said to have been so distraught by his error that he jumped to his death from a fifth-storey window. The facts of the story don’t actually bear close scrutiny but whoever it is who roams the old wing of the hotel, he is regularly heard by guests and staff. A few years ago actress Lilly Collins reported feeling a presence in her room at The Shelbourne Dublin, followed by the sound of giggling and doors slamming. Could it have been the ghost of seven-year-old Mary Masters. According to legend, Mary died of cholera in 1846 in a building where The Shelbourne now stands and now refuses to leave. Her presence is mostly felt on the sixth floor but staff have also seen her in the hotel basement.The Hollywood Roosevelt in L A opened in 1927 but ghostly activity apparently increased after the building was renovated in the 1980s. Spectres are said to include Marilyn Monro, who has appeared in a mirror, and actor Montgomery Clift who taps guests on the shoulder and can be heard playing a bugle in room 928. There’s also a little girl in a blue dress named Caroline who reportedly drowned in the hotel pool and is seen around the hotel looking for her father. There are tales of cold spots in the ballroom, a man in black, and mysterious phone calls to the hotel operator.The Fairmont Banff Springs in Canada has several ghosts, including helpful Sam the Bellman, and hideous screaming that emanates from room 873 (the room is no longer accessible to guests), but the most famous is the Ghost Bride. About to get married at the hotel in 1920s, she tripped and fell down the stone stairs to her death. Staff and guests have reported seeing a veiled figure on the stairs or dancing alone in the ballroom. Merry Christmas!

BY MAGGIE O'SULLIVAN

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