Friday 10: Haunted Hotels

Happy Halloween!

In honor of today and Monday's post about the spectre of Ivan the Red taunting me at Burg Bernstein, I've compiled a list of 9 other beautiful haunted hotels in Europe, the US and Canada.

Before we go any further, you should know that I didn't pick the creepiest hotels, like Karosta Prison Hotel in Latvia. From the website: "According to the prison's history, there are a lot of people who died in this place and most of them were shot in the head." I like a good scare and I'm a skeptic about the whole ghost thing, but. . . nope, nope nope! Not for me. Not on a bet.

I also skipped some of the most famous hotels, like The Stanley Hotel, which was made famous by The Shining

Instead, I picked places I would genuinely like to visit in areas with rich histories and lots to do. The whole haunted thing is just a bonus. 


#1 Hotel Burg Burnstein - Burgenland, Austria

There are 10 unique guest rooms in this beautiful Austrian castle that overlooks the lowlands. The castle has a long, storied history extending back to the 800s, changing hands multiple times between the Austrians and Hungarians thanks to its location in prime borderlands. Its most famous inhabitant, however, was László Almásy who was born in the castle and went on to inspire the title character of The English Patient. The castle has been passed down through the generations and the Almásy family continues to welcome guests to stay at the castle and explore Burgenland today. 

Haunts: Red Ivan, who is also known as Raging Wolf and Schlosshansl. According to this website he was a murderous 13th century knight who beat a bishop  to death and haunts the castle "by showing himself beside children's bed [. . .] He has been described with flaming red hair, a skirt at knee length and an evil laugh!" 

Caterina Frescobaldi (aka the White Lady) is the second ghost.  The story goes that she committed adultery so her husband had her buried alive in the 15th century. She appears in white and has an icy touch. People who stay in the Tantalouis or Vinzenz have the best chance of seeing her, apparently. 


Nestled into the Loire Valley, south of Angers, sits Château de Brissac, the tallest castle in France. It dates back to the 11th century, but was completely rebuilt in the 15th century. The first Lord of Brissac bought the castle in 1502 and it has been passed down from generation to generation since then. Today the 13th Count of Brissac opens the castle to tours. A few lucky guests can book nightly stays in one of its opulent rooms. 

Haunts: Legend has it that in the 15th century one of the castles owners, Jacques de Brézé quickly tired of his wife’s adulterous ways and murdered her and her lover. It is said that the lovers still haunt the castle. Moans can be heard in the night and the woman, dressed in green, wanders the halls, earning her the nickname La Dame Verte, or the Green Lady. 

#3 Ackergill Tower - Scottish Highlands

A dramatic 15th century seaside castle in the Scottish Highlands near Wick. Ackergill Tower is set on 3,000 acres and includes a restaurant, private beach and loch for fishing. There are 68 guest rooms and 5 guest cottages available for a unique and quiet country getaway. 

Haunts: The castle was owned by the Keith family in the 15th century. They had a history of feuding with the Gunn family, including murders and revenge murders. So the night before Helen Gunn’s wedding, Dugald Keith kidnapped her and held her in the tower. Helen tried to escape, but she fell to her death. She reportedly wanders the castle, appearing either as a green lady or in a red gown. 

#4 Parador de Jaén - Andalusia, Spain

Perched atop Santa Catalina Hill, Parador de Jaén commands attention and offers spectacular views of Jaén and the Andalusian countryside. The original fortress was built by the Arabs, but after Ferdinand III of Castile conquered it in 1246 the structure was rebuilt. The current iteration dates back to the 18th century and retains its Arab roots. In 1968 it became a Parador, one of the many beautiful and unique heritage building that Spain turned into hotels.

Haunts: Two ghosts are said to haunt this castle. One is of a young woman who supposedly died from heartbreak in Room 22. The second ghost is nicknamed Terrible Legarto, the Terrible Lizard, who died of hunger while imprisoned here. 

via Hotel Burchianti

via Hotel Burchianti

#5 Hotel Burchianti - Florence, Italy

Between Piazza Santa Maria Novella and the Duomo is Hotel Burchianti. It was first opened in 1919 by the Burchianti sisters, who welcomed a number of famous guests, from opera singers to poets, into their boarding house. There are just 11 rooms here, a few of which have beautifully restored frescoes. 

Haunts: For such a small space, there sure are a lot of ghosts roaming around. There are reports of a child skipping in the halls, a knitting woman, and a ghostly maid who continues her cleaning. The Fresco room is singled out as the most haunted room. Benito Mussolini may have stayed there and guests have reported everything from icy breath on their skin to pink-hued apparitions of a man.  

via The Langham Hotel

via The Langham Hotel

#6 The Langham Hotel - London, England

A 5-star hotel located in London’s West End, the Langham Hotel opened its doors in 1865. It has been welcoming high profile guests from royalty to celebrities ever since. You, too, can follow in the footsteps of the likes of Oscar Wilde and sleep in one of their luxurious rooms. Or, if that’s a little too rich for you, perhaps partake in afternoon tea at Palm Court, the “birthplace of Afternoon Tea.” 

Haunts: According to the HuffPo article “Room 333: The Most Haunted Hotel Room in London”, the list of ghosts that haunt Langham is extensive and Room 333 is especially hopping. There’s the ghost the likes to shake the bed. And the doctor who committed murder-suicide on his honeymoon. And, finally, the German prince who jumped to his death. Other ghosts have been seen elsewhere. Napoleon III apparently haunts the basement. A butler with holes in his socks, a footman with a powdered wig, and a man with a horrifying face wound have also been seen in the hallways.


#7 The Battery Carriage House Inn - Charleston, South Carolina

The Battery Carriage House Inn is a bed and breakfast overlooking Charleston Harbor near Fort Sumter and Battery Park. The original house was built in 1843, but it was abandoned during the Civil War. It sustained damaged during the Siege of Charleston, which wreaked havoc on the city itself. After the war, a wealthy Yankee Colonel bought and refurbished it. Today visitors can stay in one of the 11 rooms and enjoy Southern hospitality, breakfast,  afternoon tea, and evening wine receptions. 

Haunts:  The Inn has fully embraced its ghosts and has a whole page dedicated to stories and sightings. Room 3 has had a little girl who died at the Inn tends to hang out on the porch and an apparent congregation of glowing spirits in the bathroom. In Room 10, the Gentleman Ghost tires to woo ladies by crawling into bed with them (how this is gentlemanly, I don’t know). Meanwhile, Room 8 has the most macabre sightings of a headless torso from the Civil War. 

#8 Captain Lindsey House Inn - Rockland, Maine

Built in 1835 as a home for its namesake, Captain George Lindsey, who first turned it into an inn and tavern two years later. Today the inn is appointed in a beautiful and welcoming “new nautical” style. Its located close to the harbor in Rockland’s historic district and makes a good base for exploring the Mid-Coast of Maine or partaking in the city’s annual Maine Lobster Festival. The Inn also partners with Stephen Taber to offer a sailing package

Haunts: A group of ghost "experts" declared that no less than 35 ghosts, including Captain Lindsey himself, haunted the building. 


#9 Fairmont Banff Springs - Banff, Alberta

An iconic luxury mountain resort within the confines of Banff National Park. The beauty of the stunning Canadian Rockies serve as the backdrop to this hotel’s long history. It all began when William Cornelius Van Horne, general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway decided that a series of luxurious hotels along the railway would entice tourists travel the CPR. Construction began on the Banff Springs Hotel in 1887 and it opened on June 1, 1888. Van Horne’s vision was spot-on because Banff Springs, despite being destroyed by a fire in the 20s and undergoing many expansions and renovations, has remained a much-loved destination.

Haunts: A few spirits, it seems, haunt to halls of Banff Springs. There’s Sam, a bellman who promised to come back and haunt the hotel after he died (which happened in 1976). There’s also a ghost bride who is often seen dancing in the Cascade Ballroom. This year, the resort is even offering its own Heritage Ghost Tour  for guests who want to hear more about the hotel’s history, its spirits, and maybe—just maybe—experience one firsthand.

#10 The Algonquin Resort - St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

The Algonquin Resort is another luxury Canadian hotel with deep roots. It first opened in 1889 and its award-winning golf course followed in 1894. Today golf and seaside luxury still draw its guests in. The location offers access to beautiful beaches, the Bay of Fundy, whale watching, the town of St. Andrew, and more. 

Haunts: Two women haunt the Algonquin. One is a fastidious former employee who has been known to rearrange tables. The second is a jilted bride who took her own life in Room 473 after being left at the alter. Like Banff Springs, The Algonquin is hosting a Ghost Walk through historic St. Andrews-by-the-Sea this year.

Would you stay at a haunted hotel? Have any good ghost stories from your travels? Let me know!

I hope you have a fun, candy-fueled Halloween and a wonderful weekend!



Friday 10: Canadian Thanksgiving!

It's Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, so I'm writing this on Thursday and getting ready for a drive up to Muskoka. After all of my years in Canada, having Thanksgiving on a Monday still feels odd to me, but I love being able to celebrate it twice a year. I'm really looking forward to visiting everyone, getting out into the country, and relaxing. 

We were hoping to go on a long hike through Algonquin Park before the winter comes, but I injured my calf and should be resting it. I'm not very happy about it. I tried to convince S that I was feeling good enough to do a little hike yesterday morning. Then my leg swelled again at night after some light walking. Whoops! We will still drive up to see the fall colors, but I may have to be tied down in the car. 

Algonquin Park, Whiskey Rapids Trail, Summer 2012

Algonquin Park, Whiskey Rapids Trail, Summer 2012

I'll be back on Tuesday, hopefully with a full belly and some great photos! In the meantime, I put together a collection Thanksgiving, travel and food links for the week.  


#1 Some fast facts about Canadian Thanksgiving. While the origins of Thanksgiving are a little murky and sometimes debated, Martin Frobisher, an English explorer, is often suggested as the originator. After landing in Newfoundland in 1578, he held a feast to give thanks their safe passage across the Atlantic. This was 42 years before the Pilgrim and Wampanoag Thanksgiving in 1621 in Massachusetts. 

#2 & 3 So what did they eat, anyway? The First Nations origins of Thanksgiving foods. And look at what the Pilgrims/Wampanoag might have eaten for their harvest feast. Spoiler: No pie! The horror!   


#4 Giving Trippy a look after hearing about it on Go Fork Yourself. It's a travel site that allows users to ask questions about places and "destination experts" answer them. The idea is that the best answers get voted up and rise to the top. 

#5 Following the trail of N. Howard (Jack) Thorp through New Mexico. (via NYT Travel)

Thorp’s New Mexico is a place of overlapping cultures and harsh beauty, of cowboys and their whooping, hollering animal calls. It captures the mesquite and cat-claw thickets of tornillo bushes and encounters with the “wild and wooly” cow men of Roswell and Carlsbad.

It sounded like my kind of place.


#6 I loved this Foodie Originals video of Joseph Johnson, a sous chef at Michelin-Starred Mélisse in Santa Monica. The passion and dedication it takes to work in the food world always  (via Eater). 

# 7 This Pumpkin Chili has become a staple in our house. It's healthy, filling, and so easy to make. I usually omit some of the sugar and add extra chili powder and cayenne for some heat. Don't let the pumpkin throw you off, it's very mild!

# 8, 9 & 10 Lastly, I'm heading off to make some portable snacks for the weekend: Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas (a great alternative to chips), Pumpkin Oatmeal Anytime Squares, and, maybe some Healthy 5-Ingredient No-Bake Granola Bars (via Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker)

That's it for this week! I hope you have a lovely weekend and, if you're Canadian, you eat lots, spend time with loved ones, and celebrate the things you are thankful for. Bring on the turkey! 

Friday 10: Scenes from Ottawa

This time last week, I was on a short trip to Ottawa with the ladies of S's family. We had beautiful weather and packed a ton of sites into a few short days. Here are 10 of my favorite photos and places.


After our long drive, the first thing we did was go for a short walk and stopped to watch the activity in the Ottawa Locks. What I love about Ottawa is that it feels like a city, but there are reminders of nature everywhere you turn. The locks, nestled between Parliament Hill and the Fairmont Château Laurier, have a lovely view of the Gatineau Hills across the river in Québec.

I don't have great pictures of the canal, but it stretches 7.8 km all the way to Dow's lake with lovely paths beside it. People are constantly running, biking, and walking its length. In the winter, it becomes the world's largest skating rink


I got up early every morning for a short run. It was such a lovely to see the city. The area around the Peace Tower/Parliament is usually fairly busy, but this morning it was so quiet and still. 

byward market veg.jpg

One morning, I ran down to the Byward Market to get fresh fruit for breakfast. It seemed like a great idea until I started running back with a bag of peaches and plums. I felt pretty silly with a big plastic bag in one hand and my other arm stuck out like a chicken wing to counterbalance the weight. I just imagined myself as the Great Fruit Bandit and ran faster. 

What I loved about the market was how lovingly everything was displayed. Each stall has signs telling you whether they are a vendor reselling produce or if they are a producer selling only what they grow. Love that! 

We ended up going back to the market almost everyday and took a trunkful of produce back home. 


One day we took a Greyline Hop-on Hop-off double decker bus tour. It was a perfect way to get acquainted with the city and see some beautiful views. This one shows Parliament Hill to the right. The National Gallery of Canada is the crystal-shaped building to the left and the spires next to it belong to Notre-Dame Cathedral


The Canadian War Museum apparently looks like a plane when viewed from above. Its fin spells out "Lest We Forget" in morse code in English and French. 

We didn't get to go inside, but I've added it to my long list of "Museums I need to visit in Ottawa."


A quick view of the Prime Minister's house, 24 Sussex Drive (the grey mansion on the left). It's difficult to get a picture of it from the road because former Prime Minister and ladies-man extraordinaire, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, had trees planted for added privacy from paparazzi. I imagine the view over the river is lovely. 


We also saw the Canadian Museum of History. I visited the museum a few years ago when it was called the Canadian Museum of Civilization and loved it. The rebranding, according to CEO Mark O'Niell, will broaden "its focus on Canadian historical themes." They are currently working on new exhibits for Canada's 150th Anniversary in 2017. 

The graceful curves of the building emulate the land when humans first arrived in Canada, from the bedrock of the Canadian Shield to the receding glaciers. 


We also had a great view of the generating station and Rideau Falls, where the Ottawa and Rideau rivers meet. The surrounding park is 2.89 hectares. Just another example of how much nature you can find in the city. 


On Friday we got up early to catch the ceremonial changing of the guard, which starts at 10 am sharp. We got to Parliament Hill around 9:30 and had a pretty fantastic view. 

We were right next to a Canadian Forces medic and her stretcher, which added an extra level of suspense to everything. "Will someone pass out?!?"

It's not easy standing around for an hour in a bearskin headdress and a heavy uniform when it's really, really hot out. So I'm happy to report everyone made it through like champs.


And my last picture is a reflection of the Confederation Building next to Parliament Hill. I love how it seems like a few of these newer buildings were built to serve are mirrors. 

So that's it for Ottawa today, a of my favorite photos to share.

It was such a whirlwind trip, but I'm so happy I was able to go. We even made a stop in the quaint little town of Merrickville (they have Mrs. McGarrigle's famous mustard there, if you're into that sorta thing) for lunch and some shopping. Not only did I get to know S's family better, I fell in love with Ottawa a little bit. I already miss running by the river! 

I have a feeling there's so much more to see and experience from museums to parks to food. There are about a zillion restaurants in the Byward Market area alone. 

Have you ever been to Ottawa? Any favorite places to recommend? 

The city is really gearing up for Canada's 150th Anniversary, so the next couple of years are a great time to visit if you are interested.

Have a great weekend!