Salem, Mass. is one of the oldest cities and one of the most haunted places in America according to those who believe in the paranormal. Here’s what happened when I accidentally booked a room at one of the most haunted hotels in Massachusetts (and in the U.S.).
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The time a scared skeptic accidentally booked a haunted hotel in Salem, Massachusetts – The Hawthorne Hotel
A scared skeptic?
Me. I’m that scared skeptic.
My top criteria when choosing a hotel: location, peer reviews, historical significance, cost and quiet. Now if it were my husband, he would love to add a haunted filter on that hotel search. Not me. I’m what I call a scared skeptic. I don’t really believe, but I don’t not really believe.
I mean there are some things you just can’t explain away. Like the time I stayed in a NYC hotel where I had bad vibes from the moment I stepped out of the elevator. And the creepy sensation continued inside the hotel room. Later that night as I was drifting off to sleep the lights turned on, flickered and then turned off again. I told myself it was because parts of the hotel were under renovation. And the next night I intentionally made sure I was overserved.
So how did I accidentally reserve a room at Hawthorne Hotel, one of the most haunted hotels not just in Salem, Mass., but in the entire United States? Because I chose Hawthorne Hotel for its location, peer reviews, historical significance, cost, and well, I didn’t get as far as quiet (or haunted) apparently on this particular reservation.
Here’s how our family accidentally stayed at the haunted Hawthorne Hotel in Salem
Some background to set the scenario: I got a fabulous $250 roundtrip flight deal from Boston for my solo trip to Madrid. All I needed to do was to get to BOS from MSP. So I used my frequent flyer miles as well as for my return trip to the Twin Cities. Then I thought, why not have my husband and son meet me in Boston for a few days and we’ll make this an efficient and cost-effective family vacation to Boston. So they used their frequent flyer miles to meet me at Logan Airport on my return flight from Madrid. I was beyond excited that I booked two trips (one international and one for an entire family) for almost free.
Searching for great Boston hotel deals
I remained on my almost-free high until I started searching for the best hotel deals in Boston. As it turned out, the timing wasn’t exactly great (early May 2019). Both the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins were in the NBA and NHL playoffs. And, as I mentioned, I’m all about hotel location. I prefer a place with a high walkability rating and we were planning to walk The Freedom Trail in Boston. That was only going to happen if I was willing to pay $500+ a night for a hotel room in Boston. I was not willing.
This was in my early days of blogging (Google still hadn’t even authorized my website as a domain yet or whatever it needs to do) so no chance of getting a hosted stay – and no chance when there was very little hotel vacancy in Boston due to the playoff games (fans had them booked).
So I searched my favorite travel search engines, but actually found a great Groupon rate for a two-night stay at this charming historic hotel in Salem, Massachusetts. Hawthorne Hotel had great reviews, lots of history, inexpensive, could walk to a lot of other historical places.
Now, granted, Salem is not exactly Boston. On the map, the two cities may appear close, but timewise it can take more than an hour maybe even two to get from one place to the other. This change in travel plans all worked out as my husband and I have always wanted to visit Salem. This was our chance (we did eventually get to Boston for a day via the train from our friend’s house who lived in North Reading, Mass. at the time).
How I learned the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass. was haunted
Our Lyft driver.
That’s who informed us that the Hawthorne Hotel was haunted. And in a nonchalant, no-big-deal kind-of-way during our drive from Boston’s Logan airport to the hotel in Salem.
I thought maybe he was kidding, but there’s no way he would have known that I would never intentionally stay in a supposedly haunted hotel. He was not kidding. My son looked it up on his phone and validated our Lyft driver’s story that the Hawthorne Hotel was indeed (allegedly) haunted.
I told my son not to tell me anything. But he told my husband who was then very giddy. I’m pretty sure I sighed and thought, “Well, I am sleep deprived and jet lagged from my Madrid trip so maybe I’ll just sleep through everything.”
And then we’re booked on the most haunted floor at the Hawthorne Hotel
But I didn’t know that. I only kinda figured it out when my husband and son started whispering and laughing when the Hawthorne Hotel desk clerk checked us in and announced our floor and room number.
And not only were we booked on the same floor where the most paranormal sightings occur, but we were like just a few feet away from Room 612 – where numerous people have witnessed a woman’s apparition. I typically blame my husband for a lot of things – and booking at a haunted hotel on the most haunted floor next to the most haunted room seems pretty likely that he had something to do with it. But he didn’t. He didn’t even know the name of the hotel until we were well on our way.
Redrum was the first word that came to my mind when we reached our Hawthorne Hotel room on the most haunted floor. Anyone else?
So what happened when we stayed all night in Salem’s haunted Hawthorne Hotel?
We survived staying on the most haunted floor near the most haunted room in Salem’s haunted Hawthorne Hotel – and not just one night, but both nights.
Well, not exactly nothing. I became a little disoriented trying to find the bathroom the first night. It’s understandable as I had been at an Airbnb for the previous week. My son must have felt some kind of presence (my presence standing next to his bed – yeah, that’s creepy in and of itself) because I scared the crap out of him unintentionally. Oops.
Oh, and then he woke up to find the closet door closed that he had left open (I had shut it…I think). I heard about that the next day.
And we did see a few orbs on our photos. But they’re just some kind of reflection off those old chandelier lights or backscatter. Probably. That’s what I kept telling myself. Do you see them on the bed in the first guest room image?
My husband was so disappointed. He was more than ready for some paranormal activity at the Hawthorne Hotel. Although we did smell apples while waiting for the elevator one time.
Why is the smell of apples a scary thing at the Hawthorne Hotel?
According to what we’ve read and heard from others while visiting Salem, some of the paranormal activity at Hawthorne Hotel includes the previously mentioned apparition of a woman in front of Room 612 as well as roaming around that hallway pictured earlier that makes me think, “Redrum.”
Others have heard a baby crying on the third floor. And there have been numerous reports of smelling apples inside the Hawthorne Hotel. Apparently, the Hawthorne Hotel sits on a former apple orchard that was owned by Bridget Bishop, the first person executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials of 1692.
Maybe someone had just sprayed Febreze, but we all three definitely smelled apples in the hallway – on the most haunted floor of one of the most haunted hotels in America – Hawthorne Hotel.
Some of the nice and not-so-scary stuff about Hawthorne Hotel in Salem
Would I stay at the historic and haunted Hawthorne Hotel again? Absolutely. And here’s why.
History of Hawthorne Hotel
I’m all about history. Built in the 1920s, the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass. was named after one of my favorite authors and Salem native, Nathaniel Hawthorne. It’s designated as one of the Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This program acknowledges hotels that have maintained their authenticity, sense of place and architectural integrity.
Hawthorne Hotel’s Tavern on the Green; one of the best places to eat in Salem, Mass.
We ate at a few places in Salem, Massachusetts – including one place that earned a spot on my best mac and cheese in the U.S. list. However, for our first night we were too tired to search for a place to eat. So we ate downstairs at Hawthorne Hotel’s Tavern on the Green. No regrets! All the food was fabulous – especially my New England clam chowder. I was in Boston (kinda) so I had to try its clam chowda.
Location of Hawthorne Hotel in Salem
Salem, Massachusetts is a very walkable city. We seriously walked everywhere. And Hawthorne Hotel is ideally located right in the heart of Salem making it nearby the best attractions and top things to do. So its location is one of the top reasons why Hawthorne Hotel is the best place to stay in Salem.
Here are the best attractions within walking distance of the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass.
Top things to do in Salem, Mass.: Shopping in downtown Salem with all its cute shops and curiosities
Downtown Salem is blocked off as a pedestrian walkway with several cute boutiques, places to eat, and places that invite the curious to enter. Downtown is also where we began our amazing Salem historical walking tour, which I’ll write more about in a separate post soon. Hawthorne Hotel is nearby – like literally just a few hundred feet.
Top things to do in Salem, Mass.: Visit the Burying Point Cemetery
One of the highlights of our historical walking tour was visiting The Burying Point Cemetery, which features the Salem Witch Trials Memorial Wall. This must-do experience is very close to the Hawthorne Hotel. See related post on the most intriguing and beautiful cemeteries in the world.
Top things to do in Salem, Mass.: Photo op with Bewitched statue
Anyone remember Bewitched, the TV sitcom that ran from 1964 to 1972? I’m pretty sure I only saw it in reruns, but my husband watched it in prime time as a child. And he may or may not have had a huge crush on Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery). So he was pretty excited when we discovered her immortalized in a bronze statue in Salem. The statue is very close to the Hawthorne Hotel – only a few blocks away.
And he was excited that she and the TV cast and crew stayed at the Hawthorne Hotel when they filmed an episode of Bewitched in Salem.
We later learned in our Salem history walking tour that this whole Bewitched thing was a bit controversial. More about that later when I share more details about the top things to do in Salem, Massachusetts in a future post.
Top things to do in Salem, Mass.: Photo op with Nathaniel Hawthorne statue
Even closer to the Hawthorne Hotel is another statue – this time the hotel’s namesake, Nathaniel Hawthorne. One of my favorite classic writers. I reread Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street last year. See what else I read in my 2019 reading challenge. Or check my one-word book reviews of 2020.
Top things to do in Salem, Mass.: Tour the House of the Seven Gables and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace
Touring The House of the Seven Gables (inspiration for the book of the same name) and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace were one of our top tours and recommended things to do in Salem, Mass. – and within walking distance of the Hawthorne Hotel.
I’ve never read the book, but was inspired to purchase The House of the Seven Gables at a really cute (and supposedly haunted) bookstore called Wicked Good Books. I’ll share more about these experiences in a future Top things to do in Salem, Mass. post.
Top things to do in Salem, Mass.: Shopping or just browsing at Harrison’s Comic and Pop Culture:
My two guys were frequent visitors of Harrison’s Comic and Pop Culture store – just off the pedestrian walkway in downtown Salem and a few blocks from the Hawthorne Hotel. So many vintage comic books, toys, posters and so much more. They even brought a couple issues of Archie comic books back to the hotel for me – my favorite comic book growing up! I was Team Betty.
Where to eat in Salem, Mass.: Try the best donuts in Salem
We don’t really know if Honey Dew Donuts is the best; it was the first place we found as it is super close to the Hawthorne Hotel and kept going back. The donuts and breakfast sandwiches were pretty amazing. We don’t normally frequent chains while traveling; however, I believe this franchise is only in Massachusetts. We don’t have Honey Dew Donuts in Minnesota.
Although maybe we should have checked out this Dunkin Donuts in Salem, which our walking tour guide said was haunted. And these ghosts were funny practical joker ghosts. More about that in a future post.
Tour the Salem Witch Museum – top things to do in Salem, Mass.
You can practically see the Salem Witch Museum from the front entrance of the Hawthorn Hotel; however, we did not get an opportunity to visit as we ran out of time. It’s one of the closest attractions to Hawthorne Hotel. You’ll also walk through the Salem Common (next door to the Hawthorne Hotel) to get to the Salem Witch Museum.
And so many more of the best things to do in Salem are within walking distance of the Hawthorne Hotel. If walkability is one of your top filters when searching for a hotel in Salem, Mass., then I highly recommend the centrally located Hawthorne Hotel. I’ll share more details about these top things to do in Salem in a future post.
No paranormal activity during our stay at the haunted Hawthorne Hotel
So while we did not experience any paranormal activity during our stay at the historic and haunted Hawthorne Hotel, I can, however, recommend Hawthorne highly as the best hotel to stay in while visiting Salem. I’m hoping to publish our fabulous Salem history walking tour experience soon so please watch for that post. Lots of fun things to do in Salem, Mass.
Other mysterious places and haunted mansions I’ve visited
Here are a few other top places where I’ve visited that people have claimed to be haunted – haunted mansions, haunted cemeteries, haunted farmhouses.
Glensheen Mansion murders and ghost stories
People claim that Glensheen Mansion is haunted due to the Glensheen murders in 1977. Elisabeth Congdon, heiress to her father’s mining fortune, and her private nurse were murdered inside the Glensheen Mansion. While I did not experience any supernatural vibes (only awe-inspiring beauty), rumors have circulated over the years of seeing ghostly apparitions of two women in the upstairs bedroom window and in the basement as well as mist appearing in the library and lights flickering throughout Glensheen Mansion.
When you take the Glensheen Mansion tour, you will not hear about the murders nor the haunted mansion stories as those tales can be disturbing to some guests. However, the tour guides will answer questions about the Glensheen Mansion hauntings and Glensheen Mansion murders with a brief answer or direct you to the gift store where you can purchase books about the Glensheen murders and haunted stories.
George Stoppel Farmstead in Rochester, Minn.
We took a fascinating daytime tour of the historical grounds and buildings while guests of The History Center of Olmsted County in Rochester, Minn. This tour transported us back to what life was like living in Minnesota during the 1860s. One of the highlights was the George Stoppel farmstead – where he and his family and his brother’s family first lived in a cave on the property during the first winter.
We returned that evening as a stop on the Rochester haunted trolley ride. Now while the Stoppel farmstead seems harmless during the day (although I picked up on a creepy sensation as I took photos on the grounds by myself), I must confess this historic place in Rochester, MN gives off a different vibe at night.
One of the Rochester haunted trolley guides (a medium) shared a story of not only seeing an apparition of a man in front of the Stoppel house, but that she was physically pushed away when approaching the front stoop. Again, I’m a scared skeptic so here’s my lovely and not-so-scary experience as guests at the History Center of Olmsted County in Rochester, Minnesota.
Madrid’s Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery
I’m not aware of any paranormal activity at Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery in Madrid, Spain. Although with more than 5 million people buried in one of Europe’s largest cemeteries, I’m sure some folks have some ghost stories to share. I visited on a beautiful blue-sky day and was mesmerized by the monuments and memorial at Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery. However, I must admit that I came across many haunting sculptures and mysterious tombs and grave markers. And my brochure was written in Spanish…so maybe? See my full post about my experience at Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery – one of the top things to do in Madrid.
The most mysterious and intriguing cemeteries in the world
Cemeteries do not scare me. In fact, I find them fascinating and calming – and typically visit them during our travels. I like to think of cemeteries as outdoor art galleries featuring beautiful masterpieces, haunting sculptures and stunning architecture. Learn more about my pursuit of the most beautiful and intriguing cemeteries in the world.