The majestic Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, Canada, was built in 1888 at the terminus of the railway, meant as a retreat for traveling businessmen. The picturesque surroundings and luxurious amenities earned it the nickname “the Castle of the Rockies.” Over its 128 years, the hotel has been host to distinguished guests such as Queen Elizabeth II, Helen Keller, and Marilyn Monroe.
But there are some other distinguished guests at Banff Springs who have never left.
Legend has it that a man murdered his wife and young daughter before committing suicide in Room 873. But if you’re hoping to reserve that room during your stay, you’re out of luck. Paranormal activity in Room 873 apparently reached such a fever pitch that the hotel decided to brick up the room—thus setting its otherworldly legend in stone.
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Guests who were lucky enough to stay in Room 873 before it was sealed claim that they were terrorized by horrible disembodied shrieks and screams in the middle of the night. Maids charged with cleaning the room were unable to remove bloody fingerprints from the bathroom mirror.
Banff Springs Hotel representatives assert that the murder-suicide is merely a gory ghost story; no such crime occurred, and there is no blood-spattered room sealed behind a brick wall. Nevertheless, some enterprising guests have done their own detective work in an attempt to prove that Room 873 did in fact exist. On other floors, there are rooms ending in the numbers “73,” except on the eighth floor. The baseboard where Room 873 would be is cut, as if there were a door there, and there is a corresponding light on the ceiling. If you knock along the walls between each room, you’ll hear a sound tap-tap-tap. But knock where Room 873 is alleged to be, and instead you’ll hear a lighter, hollow-seeming sound.
Other guests claim that despite the hotel’s best efforts, the ghosts of Room 873 are still very much in residence at Banff Springs. Some have reported seeing the spirit of the young daughter standing outside her room, as if lost.
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The doomed family of Room 873 isn’t the only contingency of ghosts to haunt the illustrious hotel. Another infamous guest who is said to have met her death at Banff Springs is the Ghost Bride. Long ago, as she walked up the stairs in the main hall of the hotel to meet her groom, a bride lost her footing—some say she slipped, while others say her dress caught fire on one of the many candles adorning the stairwell. She tumbled forward and fell, breaking her neck. Guests have claimed to see the ghostly specter of the poor girl, dressed in her wedding gown, both on the staircase and in the ballroom. Some have even claimed that, on the back of her long dress, rising flames can be seen. The Ghost Bride of Banff Springs has become so famous that she even has her own Canadian postage stamp and collector coin.
A friendlier spirit encountered by guests is the former Scottish bellman Sam McAuley, who loved the hotel so much that he said in death he would return to haunt its halls. Guests have claimed to receive the assistance of a very friendly bellhop with a Scottish accent before learning that no such person works at the hotel. Others, upon handing Sam a tip for his hard work, have seen him simply vanish right before their eyes.
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Though the hotel may not want to discuss the veracity of the reports surrounding Room 873, they’ve embraced their other ghosts with a family-friendly Halloween Heritage Ghost Tour. If you’re discreet, perhaps you can sneak off to the eighth floor for your very own ghost hunt.