Ghost stories are a traditional part of New England evenings, and have been since before the founding of our country. So what can be better than spending an evening in a haunted Massachusetts hotel, inn or bed and breakfast? Let’s be honest … you’re not likely to be disturbed by either the dead or undead in a haunted hotel. Ghosts aren’t on the payroll, so they don’t perform when you ring for room service. But what you do find is a good story, and the right ambiance, so that if you’re inclined to such things, you can pick up on a mood you’re not likely to find the your typical Holiday Inn.
So here are my five favorite haunted inns, hotels and bed and breakfasts in Massachusetts. Note that the rankings aren’t based on number of reports of ghosts. Instead it’s a totally unscientific method of comparing the stories, the ambiance, dining and drinking options and overall, total experience.
And for those howling about why the Lizzie Borden B&B didn’t make the list? As one writer states, who has stayed in the house on multiple occasions, and even done paranormal investigations there, unless you’re using equipment, your chances of encountering the paranormal is pretty low. While I might, if pressed hard enough admit that there is a place for paranormal tools of the trade, they take a distant second to what you see with your own eyes. Obviously a very grisly and gruesome murder took place at the Lizzie Borden house B&B, but the reports of hauntings were pretty light, until the house became a B&B and a destination of choice for just about every paranormal reality show out there. Ratings depend on finding the paranormal, not finding a house has no spooks.
#5 Hawthorne Hotel, Salem
No list of the top haunted hotels in Massachusetts would be complete without the ghostly Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, named by Travelocity as #4 on their list of top 10 haunted hotels in the United States. Then again, some of the ghost stories bandied about appear to be based on the TV show Bewitched, which is now far enough in the past to have become part of the mythology.
The Hawthorne is famous for the spectral hands that touch guests in Room 325, as well as a phantom child who won’t quit crying, along with other more typical bumps in the night. The sixth floor is also noted for the apparition of a woman, seen roaming the halls and occasionally in rooms.
The management doesn’t believe the hotel to be haunted, and the series TAPS did an investigation and found nothing as well. But that doesn’t stop people from believing, and on occasion, experiencing the paranormal.
The haunted, or rather alleged to be haunted Hawthorne Hotel offers fine dining in their own restaurant, which is also reputed to have it’s own, nautical spook , and since it’s centrally located in downtown Salem, there are plenty of dining options. The rooms are lovely, to be expected in an upscale hotel, and exude an old world feel.
#4 The Salem Inn
According to the owners of the Salem Inn, rumors of a ghost on the presence is pure poppycock. The employees and guests say otherwise. No less than three spooks are thought to be found in this haunted Massachusetts hotel, the first of a woman that the staff has named Katherine, the second is a little boy who can be heard running up and down the stairs and through the halls. Finally there’s the specter of a cat, which haunts the parlor. Room 17 is noted for lots of strange noises, but you might experience those in any of the rooms of the Captain West house, a 19th century mansion of some architectural note, the oldest of the five buildings which make up the Salem Inn.
In addition to the possibilities of catching a spook in action, the Salem Inn is a great base for touring Salem and locations related to the Salem witch hunt. In cold months you can choose a room with working fireplaces, all the rooms are stocked with antiques and it’s simply a gorgeous place inside and out. A good breakfast with lots of variety is served, and you’re walking distance from several restaurants.
For ambiance and value, I give the nod to the Salem Inn over the Hawthorne Hotel. If it’s hauntings you’re looking for, it’s a much better bet as well, if for no other reason that there are a lot fewer rooms. And keep in mind, if you’re booking for late October, and you didn’t book in November of last year, it’s a good time to start looking in nearby Marblehead!Read the travel review in A Gothic Curiosity CabinetGo to the Salem Inn website
#3 Concord’s Colonial Inn
The oldest part of the haunted Colonial Inn in Concord, Massachusetts dates back to 1716, and the ghosts reputed to roam this haunted hotel date from shortly after this time as well. Tell the staff you’re in room 24 and you’re likely to hear the stories. At the time of the revolution, Room 24 was part of the offices and residence of Dr. Timothy Minot, who had the unenviable task of caring for the wounded from the battles of Lexington and Concord. The building was also supposed to have been the morgue for the battle as well, explaining the bloodied soldier seen in Room 24. There are also tales of a woman killed by her married lover in the same room, perhaps a Native American woman as well. And then there’s the man – some believe it’s Dr. Minot, others Ralph Waldo Emerson or Henry David Thoreau, both of which lived for a time here. Ghosts or not, you’re staying in history here.
There are dining options nearby, but you might just want to stay in and dine at Merchant’s Row, the hotel’s fine restaurant. There’s also a bar with a load of ambiance, heavy wooden beams, wooden floor, as close to a colonial feel as you’re likely to find. Pretty much all of Concord can be toured on foot, including the genuinely creepy Old Burial Ground Hill. Since the town does suffer a bit from congestion, you have the added bonus of an assured parking place.Read the travel review in A Gothic Curiosity CabinetGo to the Colonial Inn website
#2 The Beechwood Inn, Cape Cod
The Beechwood Inn is spectacularly situated for a haunting. Built in 1853 and located in Barnstable on Cape Cod, almost directly across the street is the site of the original Barnstable house. Firemen and other observers reported seeing the ghost of a woman fleeing the Barnstable House as it burned some years back, and and floating over to the Beechwood Inn. The new Barnstable House was built close by, and provides a casual but upscale dining experience, as well as a well-stocked bar. There are other dining options nearby, including some with their own ghosts. You’re also within easy walking distance of the famous House of Eleven Spirits, often noted as one of the most haunted houses in the country.
The Lilac Room gets the most reports of being haunted, followed by the Rose Room. But the female specter in question has been spotted all over this haunted bed and breakfast. In addition, she seems to be fond of playing pranks, particularly locking people in and out of the Rose Room.
A hauntingly beautiful Massachusetts bed and breakfast by any standards, the rooms are stocked with antiques, the wrap around porch offers rocking chairs and a breeze, and the ancient beechwoods provide lots of shade. The inn’s hosts prepare an amazing breakfast as well.Read the travel review in A Gothic Curiosity CabinetGo to the Beechwood Inn website
#1 Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, Sudbury
The Wayside Inn provides plenty of rooms for fine dining, as well as an authentic looking 18th century barroom, though in fact it’s a replica built after most of the inn burned in the 20th century. A pet project of Henry Ford, the entire inn as well as a nearby grist mill, church and other outbuildings were restored and the whole place has a feel of a miniature Colonial Williamsburg, without the interpreters. There’s even a museum and gift shop at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, so despite the fact you’re well in the country, there’s plenty to do and see.Read the travel review in A Gothic Curiosity CabinetGo to the Wayside Inn website