*DO TO THE FACT THAT THIS HOTEL VISIT WAS NOT OFFICIALLY SANCTIONED, I HAVE NOT GIVEN THE NAME OR THE LOCATION. BUT, FOR THE CURIOUS, IT IS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM.*
**This has been posted because of the interest generated by my other post about Urban Exploration. Time will tell if this is a popular enough feature to make it a regular thing.**
1. The building and it’s abbreviated history.
The hotel first opened in the late 1500’s. It has been known by two names, one was when it first opened. In more modern times it was known by another. Writers, painters, politicians and celebrities have stayed in the hotel over the years. Infuriatingly I can’t find a specific date for when the hotel closed down. There are plenty of references to the fact that this historic place now houses a world famous coffee house and a hiking gear retailer, but, no date anywhere about when it closed its doors for the last time.
It had to be open as late as 2003 because I remember going there for a work’s party. It was old and had the look of a shabby but stately lady who’d seen better days. The carpet was plush, if a bit faded and the walls and ceilings were stained almost dark brown from cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke that had been exhaled over the years.
My daughter worked at the newly fitted coffee house and it became a regular talking point amongst the employees as to what sort of condition the place was still in, whether squatters were living there and if it were haunted. One of the coffee house managers told them that he had keys to the hotel and if they wanted to have a look to let him know and he’d give them the keys.
2. Entering the Dragon.
My daughter and a colleague decided to take him up on the offer and one day after their shift had finished they did indeed ask for the keys. Armed with the keys and nothing else but a growing sense of excitement they unlocked the door and went in.
Despite the fact that the hotel had only been closed for a few years everything was covered in a thick layer of dust. This was probably due to the advanced age of the building itself, it was built in the late 1500’s and old places tend to manufacture dust, and it’s location in the town center.
The electricity was off and the whole downstairs area was dark, dank, and eerie. It was also deathly quiet. The entire hotel, in fact, felt as if it had been wrapped in an insulating layer of cotton wool that refused to allow the noise of the busy town to invade its dead halls.
The two coffee shop explorers wandered over to the reception desk and found most of the room keys were still mounted on the board behind the desk. Telephones and stationary still adorned the counter top. Letter boxes still awaited post for guests who were never going to stay there again.
My daughter’s exploration mate found where the mains electric box was and he turned on the electricity. The entire hotel hummed visibly as the electrics geared up and started running up and down its three floors. They both went to the lift (elevator) and went up to the first floor (second floor in the US).
They headed down the hallway and looked in rooms with open doors. Some of the rooms were in complete disarray, while a few others still had beds with linen on. They looked like a guest had just awakened and thrown the covers back to get out of the dusty bed.
In one room, they found holiday snaps (pictures) that a guest had left behind. Pictures of a better time, perhaps, but in the haste of leaving and heading to their next destination had been left behind. No one it seems from the hotel staff had bothered to collect the pictures and see that they were sent to the missing owner.
Besides an air of sadness the hotel felt as though it were still inhabited by some sort of ghostly guests. “The rooms,” my daughter said, “felt as though the floors, ceilings and walls were full of memories just waiting to come out and be noticed.” Not too surprisingly they both began to get a bit spooked by the place.
Especially after they’d found the ‘bird room.’
One of the hotel’s guest rooms had a broken window and birds from around the town had obviously set the room up as a giant nest haven and nursery for their young offspring. Nests littered the walls and floor. Broken eggshells and loose feathers were scattered everywhere. The only thing missing were the birds.
As they rode the lift down to the ground floor and turned the electricity off, they heard noise coming from the vacant floors where they’d just been moments before. This added to the already spooky feeling that they both felt growing in them. The beat a hasty retreat to the hotel’s connecting door to the coffee shop and it wouldn’t open.
Fighting back a rise of panic they began to bang on the heavy oak door to get someone’s attention. Finally after what seemed an age the manager opened the door. With raised eyebrows he asked them why they hadn’t just opened the door themselves as it was unlocked.
They explained that it must have been locked or stuck. The manager shook his head. “No to both of those ideas,” he said, “It wasn’t locked and I opened it with one finger on this side.” My daughter and her colleague looked at each other and said, “Oh.”
3. The big finish.
Neither one of them ever went back to tour the old place again. Like Shirley Jackson‘s The Haunting of Hill House, whatever walks the halls of that hotel, walks alone.
- Urban Exploration: Off Limits Curiosity Can Kill (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Urbex: Urban Exploration (euzicasa.wordpress.com)
- Urban Exploration for Wimps (livefreerange.com)
- Explorers of the Underground (outsideonline.com)
- Interesting “alternative” things to do in / around Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria? (ask.metafilter.com)
- Urban Exploration and Forgotten Theatres… (bigseance.com)
- Who Has the Right to Preserve a City’s Past? (theatlanticcities.com)