So, weary traveller in New England, you’ve found a beautiful hotel to spend the night. Your head sinks deep into the soft pillows and all you can hear is the slight hum of the air conditioning and the chirping of the crickets. Your eyes slowly close as the last rays of the sun caress the plain-washed walls and you drift into welcome slumber.
Suddenly your door opens and closes all by itself, your brush and comb rattle noisily off the dresser and bright lights dance above your head.
You must be staying in one of the many haunted hotels in Massachusetts, so prepare for an uneasy night!
Massachusetts is a state steeped in history and the birthplace of the American Revolution, so it’s no surprise that tall tales of ghostly goings-on have grown up around its many old hostelries.
We didn’t get to see them all and we never stayed in one so can’t add any first-hand reviews but who would let that stand in the way of a good ghost story.
Omni Parker House, Boston
This is one of the city’s oldest hotels, part of the historic Freedom Trail, with an old world elegance of its own.
The original owner, Harvey Parker is said to roam the halls to this day. Parker was a perfectionist who prided himself on being the best possible host and it seems his heart is still there. Sightings usually come from guests staying on the 10th floor although others report ghostly gatherings on the third, especially in and around room 303.
The lift is said to stop randomly at the third floor and mechanical checks have revealed no problems, so could it be phantom fingers pressing the button?
We didn’t stop to test this theory but the hotel is famous for another thing – the invention of the Boston Cream Pie. Pork Belly felt obligated to try one. His verdict? Not the best dessert he’d ever tasted but you can’t argue with history.
Hawthorne Hotel in Salem
With Salem’s witchy history it’s not surprising that it boasts many spooky tales.
The Hawthorne, named for the town’s famous author Nathaniel Hawthorne, was established in 1925 as ‘a modern hotel for the business traveller’. But guests in Room 325 say they feel spectral hands touching them as they sleep and there’s also said to be a phantom child who won’t stop crying.
The sixth floor is supposedly home to a female ghost and a restless presence that appears to pace the room has been reported by people staying in Suite 612.
Others claim to have seen the woman enter different rooms and have heard the taps running and toilets flushing when no-one’s there.
Less scarily fans of the TV series Bewitched might like to visit the lift where the episode Salem Saga was filmed. The town even has a statue to actress Elizabeth Montgomery in her starring role as Samantha.
Salem Inn, Salem
Far more friendly and much less alarming than the spectral hands of the Hawthorne is the phantom cat who frequents Captain West’s parlour in the Salem Inn.
Formed from a collection of different homes the main house dates back to 1834 and belonged to Captain Nathaniel West. Although no cats are allowed today, guests with cat allergies have reported reactions when entering the parlour and others claim to have seen a cat in their rooms.
Another ghost is that of a happy child who runs up and down the stairs close to the front desk, laughing and occasionally dropping small rocks onto the desk.
Then there’s Katherine who is sensed running past someone causing a cold burst of air.
The owners deny any suggestion of spookiness about the place and the receptionist we met had never seen or heard anything odd, although comments in the most recent guest book suggests people are still experiencing something supernatural in the place.
Colonial Inn, Concord
Not far away, at Old North Bridge, the ‘shot heard around the world’ was fired in 1775 in what became the American War of Independence. We Brits were hassled and harried into retreating to Boston, and we all know how that ended.
The Colonial Inn in Concord Inn is one of the oldest hotels in America dating back to 1716. Paranormal experts have claimed “phantom presences” have been detected in Room 24, which at the time of the revolution was the operating room of one Dr. Minot who treated the wounded and dying soldiers from Lexington and Concord.
Tales are also told of a woman killed by her married lover in the same room and there’ve been sightings of the spirit of a Native American woman too.
Another ghost is said to be seen strolling the corridors; a man who might be Dr. Minot on a break from his gruesome surgery or it could be writing pals Henry David Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson, both of whom spent time at the hotel. You can see their graves, along with Louisa May Alcott’s final resting place, on Author’s Ridge in the nearby Sleepy Hollow cemetery.
The Deerfield Inn
The Deerfield Inn is a lovely 1885 vintage inn with a collection of antique furniture and a peaceful atmosphere, until the spirits get lively.
It was built in 1884 by the two Bradly brothers who picked a location near the Deerfield River for travellers who wanted a nice place to spend the night.
But nowadays guests staying in rooms 41, 43 and 48 might meet a mischievous, bossy or frankly silly ghost. Lights flash by themselves, there are knocks on the doors by unseen hands, books open by themselves and tables are moved to the middle of the room.
Others report seeing a woman known as Cora, wearing her dressing gown, walking around in various areas of the inn, keeping an eye on things.
A male ghost, thought to be Cora’s husband John, potters about while a bright box of bouncing light, allegedly a guest called Hershal, plays tricks on anyone staying in room 48, rearranging their bedding and pulling tissues out of their boxes.
New Boston Inn, Sandisfield
We were sorry this was closed when we passed by as it looked a beautiful old place for a welcome break.
Established in 1737, room 4 is said to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl who moves objects or “borrows” them and returns them later. Little Harriet is said by the owners to be loving and playful, even helpful at times.
Voices are also heard around the hotel and the games room is said to be the scene of an 1805 murder. Boys have been seen playing cards in the ballroom and paranormal investigators claim to have recorded the words “Lay down your cards.”
Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, Sudbury
Probably the longest-running hotel in America with stories of hauntings dating back to beyond 1868.
Most people think it’s the fault of Jerusha Howe, a single woman who died in 1842. She lived in what is now rooms 9 and 10 and men staying there report being woken by a soft breath on their face. When they open their eyes she’s staring right back at them. Others say she’s not averse to a quick cuddle either. There’s a secret staircase to the room and Jerusha likes to play with the locks.
Previous guests have left notes which are fun to read and there’s even said to be a secret treasure box for anyone who can figure out the clues.
Hotel Viking, Newport
Rhode Island was one of the 13 original colonies and it’s said the native American souls are still not at rest.
The hotel was once a lavish affair, reflecting the area’s maritime history, but guests staying in the back of the hotel report being woken up by “phantom parties” with music and laughter emanating from an empty courtyard.
Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, Fall River
“Lizzie Borden took an axe
Gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.”
This B&B has it all – murder, mystery and a museum. The story goes that Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally murdered with an axe and their daughter Lizzie was to blame.
Today you can stay in any of the bedrooms once occupied by the Borden family but many visitors say they don’t sleep very well. Doors randomly open and close, windows slam shut without warning and some have seen a woman in Victorian dress tidying the house or weeping. Others report hearing muffled conversations.
The Beechwood Inn, Cape Cod
Currently closed for renovation it’s not clear if the work will disturb the feisty female ghost who’s said to haunt the place. Guests staying in the Lilac Room reported the most paranormal activity closely followed by those sleeping (or trying to) in the Rose Room.
By all accounts the spook was quite harmless, mostly playing silly pranks on on guests and shutting them out of their rooms, but she may not even return once the building work is done.
Only time will tell.