The Mount Washington Hotel has always slightly reminded me of the iconic Timberline Lodge, the famously eerie hotel filmed in the movie The Shining. It’s grand and beautiful in a way that only old hotels can be. Over the years Kiel and I have stayed at the Mount Washington, located in New Hampshire, numerous times. It’s one of our favorite places to recharge and feel inspired. They also throw a fabulous New Year’s Eve party! We return year after year for the cozy environment, gorgeous mountain range views, delicious food, skiing, and real life ghost story. (Photos 2 -4 were taken during New Year’s 2015. Additional posts from the hotel here, here, here, and here.)
Before I delve further into this ghost story, I’m going to give a little background on the hotel. It opened in 1902 as a summer playground for affluent guests coming in from Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Joseph Stickney, the hotel owner, was a wealthy industrialist who earned his money in coal mining and the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Mount Washington
was the brainchild of Stickney and his wife Carolyn. At the time of its grand opening, the hotel was the largest wooden structure in New England. No expense was spared in constructing it. The hotel was considered the most luxurious of its day.
One year after the hotel opened, Joesph Stickney died of a heart attack. He did not get the opportunity to enjoy the property for very long. His wife Carolyn inherited the property upon his death. She went on to remarry a French prince and became Princess Carolyn. Carolyn spent every summer at the Mount Washington Hotel
until her death in the 1930’s. Her room, now known as Suite 314
or the Carolyn Stickney Suite, still has the same carved oak bed that she brought back and forth with her from the South of France. Princess Carolyn chose that particular room because it had the best view of her guests arrival. It is rumored that she loved to be the best dressed and would quickly change if she found another woman to be more smartly dressed than her. Every evening she reserved a single person table in the dining room. The hotel still sets this table for for her every night.
Beloved by the hotel staff, Princess Carolyn has become a legend in life and death. There have been several accounts from hotel workers and guests who claim to have encountered a female apparition in Suite 314. Many believe it to be the ghost of Carolyn. Guests say they have seen her combing her hair at the end of the bed. They recall waking up in the middle of the night with pins and needles in their feet. Other accounts regale tales of the usual ghost activity — lights turning on and off, the electric fireplace suddenly lighting up on its own, items being knocked over, and the scent of a flowery perfume. Suite 314 is not the only haunted place in the hotel but it is the most prominent.
Kiel and I have spent a handful of nights in Suite 314 — always for New Year’s Eve. I will admit that I’ve never really believed ghosts exist. I found the room to be updated and cozy. I spent many hours reading alone in the room by the fireplace and never witnessed anything unusual. I loved the idea of the hotel being haunted but was glad that I didn’t have any real life experience to validate it. I cannot say the same for Kiel. He claims to have felt the pins and needles on his feet in the middle of the night. He also couldn’t go back to bed after seeing a man’s face in the mirror on the way to the bathroom at 3 in the morning. I chalked it up to having a wild imagination after a couple of drinks and watching the Ghost Hunter’s investigation of the suite on Youtube before bed.
Dress: Shoshanna c/o Shoes: Manolo Blahnik Clutch: Burberry (old)
This past November we returned to the Mount Washington Hotel
for a fun ghost hunting weekend with Strange Escapes
, a company that hosts weekend getaways for lovers of the unknown
. Our friend Amy Bruni
who owns the company, formerly of Ghost Hunters and now star of Kindred Spirits
on the Travel Channel, puts together one of a kind weekends in haunted hotels across America. The Strange Escapes
weekend includes a masquerade ball, paranormal lectures that range from UFO’s to psychic readings, and plenty of ghost hunting with Amy, her costar Adam Berry
, and a few famous paranormal faces. We jumped at Amy’s invite to the Strange Escapes
Weekend at Mount Washington. (See more events here
.) We had no idea what we were getting into but we loved the idea of such a unique experience with wonderful people at our favorite hotel.
On the first evening of our haunted weekend adventure we attended the Masquerade Ball thrown by Strange Escapes
. I was so impressed with how much everyone dressed up for the event. The costumes and masks were elaborate and well thought out. I was really happy that we were able to get a group photo with everyone. Our photo was put together at the last moment and ended up unintentionally having a very similar vibe to the group photo taken in the Shining
(I included it for reference). We danced until our legs hurt and ended the night with a glass of wine at the Cave Bar. If you ever stay at the Mount Washington Hotel
the Cave Bar
is a must! (Photos 5,6,8,9, and 10 taken this November)
The next day Kiel and I had a leisurely breakfast with Harry and my future brother in law Dan. There were several paranormal speakers scheduled throughout the day but we didn’t attend any lectures. Instead we played in the snow, took a scenic drive through Crawford Notch, had our family portrait sketched, and relaxed before heading up to Suite 314 for our first real life ghost adventure. Walking into this I had no idea what ghost hunters did aside from the few snippets I had watched in a Ghost Hunters episode. Amy and Adam met us in the room before the guests arrived for a private EVP session. An EVP, also known as an Electronic Voice Phenomenon, happens via the use of a recorder to detect sound frequencies that the human ear can not detect. The room has to be completely silent for it to work properly. Amy and Adam started off by turning off the lights and turning on the recorder and asking the ghost a series of basic questions — Are you a man? Are you a woman? Are you alone? What is your name? etc. After the session the recording is played back. If there is no ghost activity present the questions asked will turn up on the recording without pause. If there is ghost activity you can hear a scratching noise that will sound like a word. We heard a few of these scratchy sounds during our session but it was not enough to convince me of the existence of ghosts.
When our private session ended, a small group of VIP guests entered the room for the start of the official session with Amy and Adam. (I should note that there were other ghost hunting sessions happening silmaltaneaously in various haunted locations throughout the hotel). Amy and Adam started off with a similar EVP session allowing other people present to ask the “ghost” questions. The crowd was very engaged. Some people brought their own ghost hunting devices and others had toys in case the ghost was a child. They wanted the ghost child to feel more comfortable to respond. I had officially stepped into a whole new world! I was not convinced that ghosts exist. In my opinion the scratching sounds picked up by the recorder were just ordinary scratching sounds. There had to be a rational explanation for it. To me this EVP session was comparable to making out shapes amongst the clouds.
After the EVP session we moved onto another technique where a person isolates themselves by wearing high performance noise canceling headphones that hone in on any special sounds. We sat around the room while Amy faced the fireplace with headphones on. Adam continued to ask the ghost questions. After each question Amy would say whatever word or phrase that was being picked up on the recorder at the time. Most of the phrases were completely random. It sounded like the ghost was a man and not the Princess Carolyn. A woman in the room felt the ghost nudge her and that was the height of the activity. It was a relatively quiet ghost hunting night in Suite 314.
Kiel and I headed back to our room shortly afterwards for a bite to eat and to get ready for bed. We had a family suite with two bedrooms and a living room separating the bedrooms. Dan was in one room and we had the other room with Harry. When we stay at hotels we always leave the bedroom door open a crack with a light on for Harry (he sleeps in a portable crib next to our bed). We were snuggled up in bed for at least a half an hour when the bathroom light went out. “Dan leave that light on that’s for Harry” Kiel called out. There was no answer. Suddenly the door slammed. We were really confused that he would shut the door and turn off the lights on us. We assumed it was a practical joke. Kiel got out of bed to open the door and turn on the light. Dan was no where to be found. We opened up the door to his room and he was in bed unaware that anything had happened. We asked him several times if he closed the door on us and he responded that he never got out of bed. In that same instant Amy had just texted me to say there had been some activity in Suite 314. The ghost had been saying Kiel’s name over and over again on the EVP recording and we should go in there. At the time she wasn’t in the room. Her friend Grant Wilson, another cast member of Ghost Hunters, was hosting the session in the room and no one knew who we were. The group just found it interesting the the ghost was repeating the same name.
We were admittedly pretty freaked out. We tested the door a few times to see if maybe it shut easily, was on a slant, etc. but the carpet was too thick for it to have ever closed on its own. In a frantic state of mind we headed back to Carolyn’s suite in our pajamas. I didn’t bother getting dressed. When we arrived the lights were off and people were sitting all around the room. Grant greeted us and began to tell the ghost that Kiel was there and asked if he would like to say anything. A woman was repeating what she heard from the headphones again. The ghost’s name was Steve and he was high as a kite. He really wanted to talk to the girls.
Normally this would just seem random but the last time we stayed in this room was for New Year’s Eve 2016. (See pictures above. Original post here) A big group of our friends stayed at the hotel to ring in the New Year and we all headed up to our room at the end of the night to continue the party. Everyone in the room was a familiar face. At some point this random middle aged guy named Steve opened the door and came into the room. He refused to leave. He kept going on about how high he was and how wanted to talk to the girls. Our friend John escorted him out of the room with a little bit of a struggle. He ended up sneaking back in for a second time when someone opened the door to leave and we eventually called hotel security. It was a little unsettling. The next day there was not a trace of him in the hotel or lobby. It was like he appeared out of nowhere.
I don’t have any logical explanation for this series of events but there is no way any one in that room could have known about Steve or the things he was saying on New Year’s Eve in 2016. We never found out why the ghost was saying Kiel’s name over and over again but we were more than a little freaked out. Kiel probably more so than me. I walked into the weekend a skeptic and came out a believer. While I love the hotel, we didn’t sleep a wink that night. It might be a little while before we return again. I will return! I’ve stayed there many times and the ghosts have never bothered me.
If you feel brave enough to experience your own ghost hunting adventure in dreamy locales, check out Strange Escapes for upcoming events. Tune into Kindred Spirits on the Travel Channel on January 24th for more paranormal investigations with Amy and Adam.
Special thank you to Amy Bruni and Strange Escapes for an unforgettable weekend