Hello, this is Jana, and I’m here the latest episode of the Dutch Hotel. The series is set in London and it’s about a family that take-over the management of a haunted Hotel. Now we know that this story isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. There are those who say, “No, we don’t listen to spooky stories!”. But there are also other families who have been emailing us asking, “What happens next in the Dutch Hotel?” So we decided to make it a bit more of an occasional series, and this episode is dedicated to all fans of the Dutch Hotel.
The Dutch Hotel was due to open its doors on New Year's Eve.
Alan and Angeliki were working flat out to be ready. Before they could get anywhere, they had to hire senior staff. So they started to call round all their contacts.
The hotel's owner, Zelda, wanted to find a chef with an international reputation. Finally, they hired Carlos, an assistant chef looking for his next big career move. Angeliki persuaded a former colleague, Norma, to run the Back of House, which covered laundry, cleaning, flowers, and everything that guests take for granted. Next, Alan contacted an old friend, John, who had worked for 25 years as a doorman at a big hotel in Mayfair. He brought John in to run the Front of House, including the staff who wear bright uniforms and meet and greet the guests.
Once the top team was on board, they could make plans, like menus and schedules, and hire more staff.
Running a hotel is like being in charge of a small country. It's a complex business, and many things can go wrong. But Alan had an extra worry at the Dutch Hotel - the ghosts. There was no way of telling how the spooks and the guests would get along together.
"Don't worry," Angeliki reassured Alan, "We hardly see them these days. The spectres keep themselves to themselves."
But in the end, it wasn't the ghosts who threatened the New Year plans. Instead, it was another spooky problem: the virus.
After Christmas, John reported that he had to stay at home. Then the doormen and the bellhops who worked with John all called in with the same message. Soon the sickness spread to the receptionists who worked at the front desk.
Alan sat at his desk with his head in his hands.
"Seems like we'll have to call the whole thing off," he said mournfully. "Maybe we should just face facts and tell Zelda to wait until this whole thing is over before opening."
"Well, at least we aren't the only ones," said Angeliki, resigned to their fate. "These are difficult times for hotels and restaurants."
But when Alan called Zelda with the news, she exploded: "No, Alan!" she shouted down the phone. "We have guests flying in from all over the world. We can not tell them to go and sleep in the park. It’s very important to start the year the way you intend to continue. I’m superstitious like that. If we postpone the opening on New Year’s Even, we will just put it back again and again and again, all year long, and I can’t have that. "
Alan was at a loss as to what to do. "How am I supposed to open a hotel without any staff?" he asked. And when the kids heard their dad muttering to himself as he walked down the corridor, they came up with a suggestion. Nafsi asked:
"Why don't we ask the ghosts if they can do the jobs of the people who are sick?"
"Nice idea," said Alan, "But I don't think so. Even if they agree to help, we can't rely on ghosts to run the hotel."
"Why not? They ran it in the past, didn't they?" asked Yogi.
"Well, if they don't turn up for work, or if they play spooky pranks on the guests, what are we going to do about it?"
"At least ghosts don't get sick," said Nafsi. So in that way, they are more reliable than humans, aren't they?"
" I wouldn't even know how to ask them," said Alan, throwing up his hands."
But it was clear that he didn’t have any better ideas - so the kids decided to help him out. At bedtime, Yogi set the alarm on his phone for a quarter to midnight. When it went off, he was dreaming about ghosts playing football. Then, he opened his eyes, and in the darkness, he wasn't sure if he was awake or not. Eventually, he dragged himself out of bed and went to the next room to wake his sister.
"Where's the best place to find the ghosts?" whispered Yogi.
"Let's go down to the lobby," said Nafsi, "because we are most in need of doormen and receptionists."
The kids quietly shuffled out of the apartment, wearing their dressing gowns and slippers. Heracles, their ever-alert pet poodle, sprang out of bed and followed them into the lift. When they reached the ground floor, the lift doors swished open, and they heard the water spurting through the marble fountain in the centre of the lobby. Their dad had tipped fat multi-coloured fish into the marble pool the day before. So the kids went over to the fountain, where they were mesmerized by the fish for a couple of minutes.
"Is it midnight yet?" asked Yogi.
Nafsi looked up at the big clock above the empty reception desk. "It's already three minutes past midnight," she said.
"Can you see any ghosts?"
"Not yet. But I don't think there's any rule that ghosts have to come out at midnight."
There was nothing to do but wait. So they sat on one of the comfy sofas where they both couldn't help nodding off. It was only when Heracles started growling that Yogi opened his eyes and felt a gust of cold wind. For a moment, he wondered if he was still dreaming or not. A uniformed employee was holding the door for two gentlemen dressed in suits and shirts with wing collars. Yogi had never seen anyone dressed like them before. Not unless you count the period drama shows that Mum watched on TV. He nudged Nafsi to wake her up. She rubbed her eyes and said sleepily, "It's them, the ghosts! Stop growling Heracles, that's bad manners."
"How do we ask them to help us?" asked Yogi.
"Well, I suppose we have to speak to them."
She picked Heracles up under her arm, and the two children went up to the doorman.
"Excuse me, are you a ghost?" asked Yogi.
The doorman laughed. "Not that I know of," he replied.
"But then, what are you doing here?"
"I work here," said the doorman.
"But why don't we know you? Our dad manages this hotel, and we know everyone who works here," said Nafsi.
"Well now," said the doorman, "I don't know if you are aware, but this hotel is a rather special place, a little out of the ordinary, shall we say."
"Because it's haunted?" suggested Yogi.
"Lots of people think that," said the doorman, "And I can see why they do. But the truth is much deeper and out-of-the-ordinary. I ain't a ghost, any more than you two are."
"So, you're not... dead, then?" asked Nafsi.
"I don't think so," replied the doorman. "The best that I can explain is that here in this hotel, the past and the future meet up. By rights, we shouldn't be able to see each other, but for some reason, we can. So I go about my business, and now and then, I see you future people walking around the place. It was scary at first, but now I'm used to it."
“We feel the same about you," said Yogi.
He laughed. "By the way, Angus is my name. Pleased to meet you."
"I'm Nafsi, and this is my brother Yogi."
"Unusual names, in my time, anyway."
"We have a favour to ask if you don't mind," said Yogi bravely.
"You can ask."
"It's like this," said Nafsi, "Our mum and dad planned to open the hotel on New Year's Eve but lots of the staff are sick and can't come into work. So we were wondering if the ghosts - or people from the past - could help us out?"
"You mean, we would be working in two different centuries at once?" asked the doorman.
"If that's possible."
"Well, I don't know," said the doorman, "I would have to talk to my colleagues."
"But would you consider it if we get Dad to come and talk to you?"
"Certainly, we can talk," said the doorman. "But I can't promise anything."
The kids both went back to bed. As Yogi fell asleep, he felt satisfied: “We’re not scared of the ghosts anymore.”
In the morning, Nafsi and Yogi tried to explain to their parents what they had found out during the night.
“What on Earth were you thinking, getting up in the middle of the night and talking to ghosts?” asked Angeliki, their mother, crossly.
“We were thinking that we would help you out,” said Yogi. “Besides, he says they aren’t ghosts. They aren’t even dead. They are people just like us - only they belong in a different time.”
“Oh yeah, that makes perfect sense,” said Mum, sarcastically.
“It sounds like some sort of parallel universe thingy,” said Alan.
“Yes, that’s it!” said Yogi. “It’s another dimension, that’s all, nothing to be scared about.
“Fooy! If it isn’t ghosts, it’s some sort of twilight zone nonsense.” declared Angeliki.
“What’s your explanation, then?” asked Nafsi.
But their mother didn’t have an answer. Alan, however, seemed more thoughtful. Even Angeliki could see that he was giving serious consideration to the kids’ idea. “You’re not really going to hire a bunch of ghouls are you?” she asked her husband.
“Naaa!”said Alan. “It’s a daft idea… but then again, what choice do we have? Zelda says we have to kick the New Year off to a good start or - basically, we’ll be out of our jobs. She didn’t say that, but I can feel it’s what she means.”
The kids thought it was hopeless. Their parents would never take up such a crazy proposition. All day long, Alan tried to recruit some temporary staff - but the recruitment agencies had very little to offer him. His boss, Zelda, was calling him to ask what his plan was.
“Alan, you know me, I don’t like quitters. I like people who can solve problems.” He was in a tight corner.
However, in the morning, the kids could see that their dad looked more relaxed. He had a little glint in his eye that they recognised.
“You did it, didn’t you?” said Nafsi. “You spoke to the ghosts last night. I can tell.”
“Your father got up in the middle of the night. I don’t know where he went,” said Angeliki. “I presumed he wasn’t so crazy as to go and recruit some ghosts.”
“Well you’re right,” said Alan. “I did speak to the ghosts - I mean the people from another time - and we reached an agreement. They are going to help us out. We don’t have much choice really. Zelda won't let me postpone the opening. So we are going to have a joint effort. A sort of combined New Year’s Eve, with guests and staff from past and present.”
The first guests arrived at 4 pm on New Year’s Eve. Nafis and Yogi were downstairs in the lobby to watch them arrive. The young couple looked very glamorous. Yogi said, “Do you think they are from the past or the present?”
“From the past, silly,” said Nafsi. “Nobody wears a huge feather in their hat these days.”
But actually, she was wrong. The guests were dressed up for New Year’s Eve, because when they went over to the reception desk, Mum checked them in using the computer. She was sitting next to old-time receptionists. They had agreed that the guests from the past would sign in using the registration book.
In the kitchen, the cooks were working on a menu from 1899, including Russian pancakes and black caviar, turbot, Peking Duck, and lobster, but they were using modern cooking equipment for the most part.
In the dining hall, to keep the party spirit of New Year, the staff wore carnival masks - to look like jesters and cats and birds of prey. And some of the modern staff wore the sort of mask that you buy in packs from the pharmacist. The masks were helpful because some of the people from the past had rather pale complexions. In fact, in some cases, you could almost see right through them.
At midnight, the head waiter rang the bell and everyone, old and new, sang Auld Lang Syne - the words of which have not changed in over a hundred years.
The doorman threw open the entrance to the hotel and shouted out “Welcome, everybody welcome, come in for a drink on the house!”
Apparently, this was a New Year’s tradition at the hotel. Nobody had told Alan.
Fortunately, there weren’t too many New Year’s revellers who heard the offer of free drinks, but the first to come in was one tall, dark stranger. Apparently, the appearance of such a person heralded good luck for the year.
He went into the dining area and sat at the bar. Angeliki almost fainted when she saw him. She said to Alan:
“Have you seen who’s sitting at the bar?”
“Who is he?”
“That’s Gugu Miquel,” she gasped.
Gugu Miquel was Mum’s favourite singer. She had been totally in love with him since she was a teenager back in the 80s.
“But, didn’t he die a few years back?” asked Alan.
“He did,” said Angeliki, shaking. “Which is why I’m so shocked to see him - especially as he’s looking just like he did back then.”
But of course, at the Dutch Hotel, you shouldn’t be so surprised when people from the past put in an appearance.
And that was New Year’s Even at the Dutch Hotel. If you’ve listened this far, we guess you are a fan of the Dutch Hotel. Here’s our writer, Bertie. Bertie, can you explain, are they ghosts or not at the hotel?
Well sort of, but nobody knows what ghosts are, presumably. So they don’t have to be the lost spirits of dead people.
Are you just coping out, so that the story isn’t so spooky?
Well not really, because I can’t figure out in my mind, how the spirit of a dead person would work. What exactly would that be? But people like Elon Musk, the billionaire have talked about parallel universes, and I thought that might be more interesting and perhaps more plausible.