Storytime! Here’s an oldie, but a goodie...
So, it’s October in Canada and we’re touring the Rockies.
After spending a few days at Chateau Lake Louise, horseback riding through the woods and hiking around the turquoise lake with our five-year-old son, Quinton, we check out and head over to the Banff Springs Hotel for the next stop on our latest adventure.
The Banff Springs Hotel opened in 1888. Styled after a Scottish Baronial Castle, it looks straight out of a storybook. It’s nestled in the heart of a picturesque town, in the middle of a national park, where deer and elk graze nonchalantly as you walk by quaint little shops.
Once inside, I soon discover the hotel is a maze of hundred-year-old corridors. Elevators are here and there. Huge rooms and staircases appear in the middle of nowhere.
I am in love.
To get to our suite we leave the main lobby, walk up a grand staircase, and head down a long corridor. From there, enter Mount Stephen’s Hall; an imposing medieval-inspired banquet hall with balconies and an oak-beam coffered ceiling.
After exiting Mt. Stephen’s, we continue along several additional hallways, turning left and right, up and down some more staircases, until we reach the Tudor Wing.
From there, take a lone elevator down a few floors. It’s tiny, old and derelict looking, but this is the route.
Continue along some more empty halls and then....we finally reach our suite.
It’s all by itself in an isolated, gothic looking alcove.
But, as expected, the suite is beautiful—bedroom to the left, sitting room to the right, all the windows overlooking huge mountain peaks and the Bow Valley below.
Close my eyes and we’re in Europe...or even fictional Arendelle, waiting for Elsa’s coronation.
Everything is old and beautiful...yet oddly eerie.
I have a five-year-old son, so I promise to take him on a ghost hunt around the hotel later that evening.
You see, at home my son’s going through a “Ghostbusters” phase. He loves the movie. So much so that we’ve made a ghostbusters backpack from an old cereal box, craft paint, and a bunch of buttons and gadgets from Home Depot. A dryer vent hose completes the proton pack.
Even pre-Pinterest, it’s awesome.
Evening comes and the three of us set out to explore this enormous and *famously* haunted old place.
However...none of the staff will talk about it.
Believe it or not, in some U.S. states, if a hotel is possibly haunted, they have to disclose reports of that nature to you *if asked*.
But not here.
“Ghosts? There are no ghosts here,” concierge tell us, much to our disappointment.
It’s supposedly the most haunted hotel in Canada, yet it’s clearly verboten for employees to speak of.
We finally find a good sport who looks over his shoulder before whispering, “we’re not allowed to talk about it...but go to the main elevators, hit the sixth floor, and then turn right.” The guy then winks at little Quinton.
So, we head to the main wing, straight to the bank of elevators.
The second elevator on the left opens.
We get off on the sixth floor and start down the quiet hallway. Gloomy, orange lights add to the atmosphere.
Creepy medieval pictures hang on the walls.
We pass rooms 662, 664, 666...
We’re tiptoeing along, totally having a great time. Ahead looms the end of the hall the man told us about and it’s the eeriest thing you’ve ever seen.
It’s actually the wing where royals stay if/when they come.
Orange electric candles flicker on the walls of this alcove. Pictures of royals, like King Henry, stare down at you. Chills run up my spine and I have to remind myself we’re just playing pretend with our five-year-old.
Quinton is sitting on a sofa, taking it all in, when a maid comes out of the royal suites.
We start talking.
“Come inside and see,” she says to him.
So, we explore the empty rooms, thank her, and then walk back to the elevators.
Once again...the second elevator on the left opens its doors.
We get on, get off at another floor, and explore some more.
We head back to the elevators, and...the second elevator on the left opens its doors.
We continue this for several floors. Every single time, the same elevator picks us up, as if waiting for us. My husband and I are giving each other bewildered looks by this point.
We watch other people come and go and ALL the elevators are in service. Yet, as soon as Quinton’s done exploring a floor, we head back, push the button, and the second elevator on the left opens its doors.
It’s now happening way too often to be a coincidence.
When finally done exploring, and ready to go out into the village for a tasty treat, we head back to the elevators and push the button.
“Betcha I know which elevator is going to come,” I joke nervously.
However, the fourth one down opens up instead.
“That’s a change. I thought for sure—”
The doors suddenly slam shut.
We all freeze, slowly turn our heads, watching in disbelief as the second elevator on the left opens its doors for us.
I swallow the lump in my throat.
Okay, this was only supposed to be make-belief fun, but we’re all looking at each other wide-eyed. We shuffle onto the elevator and Quinton pushes the button for the lobby.
When we reach the lobby, the doors open like normal. As we move to step off, they slam shut again. Then, they begin to open and close, over and over again, fluttering madly for several moments before stopping.
We spill out they moment they stop.
They slowly close behind us again as we walk away.
It felt like an old, invisible elevator operator was standing there—having a bit of fun himself.
A few days later we’re in the airport, flipping through books for sale in the terminal.
My husband finds one about The Haunted Rockies. In it is a section on the Banff Springs Hotel. The tales went on about a ghost bride, a deceased bellboy, a mysterious room with no doors or windows, and...
A certain haunted elevator.
Anyone wanna bet it’s the second elevator on the left?