And I’ve been feeling a bit spooked out recently, because Bertie keeps on playing creepy music on his guitar.
Oooh, spooky. I Know what that means. Halloween must be coming soon. But just as importantly - we have a new series about a mysterious hotel in London. It’s called the Dutch Hotel, and rumour has it that it’s haunted. But then again, perhaps that’s just an old story. The Jones family are going to move into the hotel and manage it. Just to recap their names: the dad is called Alan, the Mother is Angelike, and the kids are Nafsi and Yogi.
So how would you feel about spending your first night in a reputedly haunted hotel? Would you be excited - or just a bit frightened?
Listen on to find out.
The family was moving home, and that meant packing everything up. There were crates and boxes for all their precious belongings, and a skip for all the junk they had collected over the years. The skip required some tough decisions:
Do I really need to keep this doll that was once so beloved? Or this toy dumper truck that I played with when I was three years old?
Probably not. But the guitar - well that’s definitely coming.
AS for the furniture - nearly all of it went to Billy O Ryan, the antique dealer. The hotel was going to have far grander beds and chairs than the Jones’s ever sat or lay on in their little muse house. Though there were one or two pieces that had to come - like dad’s desk that he used for drawing and painting - which was his hobby - and he was not a bad artist either!
Hector, their miniature Poodle, watched anxiously. He knew something was afoot, and did not want to be left behind. When he saw his bed go into the back of the furniture van, he tried to jump in too, but it was too high for him.
Since they were only moving a few streets away, it took just five minutes to drive there. The redecoration of the hotel was still not quite finished, but it was near enough for them to move in. They were taking a palatial suite of rooms on the fifth floor.
The ceiling of the mainroom was a cupola like in a church. All the rooms had marble fireplaces, deep panelled doors, the walls were decorated with white alabaster columns, and gold cornices ran around the tops. Oil paintings and water colours - mainly of country scenes like pheasants and fox hunting - were hung all around.
“Wow!” said the kids, “We are going to live like Royalty!”
Heracles ran around excitedly, exploring the rooms. Once or twice his claws skidded on the marble floors.
But the furniture was still somewhat lacking. So, the kids were going to sleep on inflatable mattresses on the floor. Not that they minded. It was more fun that way.
Now here, we must take a little pause for about one minute’s time. I know I can’t wait to find out if the kids see a ghost in their new home, but Bertie’s told me that I’m not allowed to turn the page and look ahead. So hang on, while I tell you about an amazing new podcast from our sponsor Wondery.
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Now, back to our story. Where was I? Ah yes, the Joneses have just moved into their new home, a suite of rooms in The Dutch Hotel, that some people say is huanted. The Jonses haven't seen any evidence of ghosts - not yet at at any rate
After unpacking about half of their things, everyone was hungry. The hotel kitchen was not yet open, so dad and the kids went out to buy fish and chips from their favourite shop in Paddington. The chips there were so famous there that people came all the way from Notting Hill to collect the - back in the old days. Now, of course, they just ordered an uber delivery.
But the dad and the kids went in person. “How are you today?” asked Sunny, the fish and chip frier.
“We’re doing great,” replied Yoga. “We just moved into The Dutch Hotel. It’s going to be our new home.”
“Very nice,” said Mustapha, “Apart from the ghosts.”
“Mum says the ghosts are just a wild story,” said Nafsi.
“I don’t like to contradict your mum,” said Sunny, “But I used to work in the kitchen of The Dutch Hotel. Everyone who worked there will tell you that the ghosts are very real.”
“Did you see one with your own eyes?” asked Yogi.
“Yes, with my own eyes. He came into the kitchen, picked up a knife, and chopped up potato chips.”
“How did you know he was a ghost?”
“Because I could see right through him.”
Until recently the kids thought the idea of ghosts was an entertaining idea. But now the repeated warnings were starting to make them nervous. When dad joked:
“Perhaps we should buy a bag of chips for the ghosties,”
They kids did not laugh. In fact they were rather quiet all the way back to their new home, which did not seem like such an inviting place to live any more.
“Don’t worry,” said Dad, “Nobody has said the ghosts mean any harm.”
“So do you believe in them now?” asked Nafsi.
“1. I don’t believe that ghosts exist.
2. If ghosts do exist, they won’t do us any harm.”
“So they do exist,” concluded Yogi.
“I didn’t say that.”
“But you almost did.”
The kids had been planning to play hide and seek around the hotel, but they cancelled that idea. It seemed safer to stay in their rooms. Mum helped them inflate their blow-up beds with an electric pump, and they spread out their sleeping bags. For the moment they just sat and watched a movie on dad’s laptop. Fortunately it was a funny movie about a clever dog and did not feature any ghosts in it.
When it was nearly bedtime, the family received a visitor. He was one of the few people who knew where they were. His name was Father Kostas and he was a Greek Orthodox priest. Mum had asked him to speak to the kids about ghosts.
“Do you believe in ghosts, father Kostas?” asked Nafsi.
“I believe that some buildings are haunted by spirits,” he said. Mum’s eyes widened. This was not the answer she had been hoping for. She was actually quite angry that he was reinforcing the idea of the supernatural. Dad noticed her expression, but the Father did not, and he continued.
“Buildings have history, and many things have happened to them. There is a kind of atmosphere that lingers on. But do not worry children, the Lord is watching over you, and He will keep you safe. You can sleep well, and you will be fine in the morning.”
“What do you think happened in this hotel?” asked Yogi.
“It’s an old story, I can’t say if it’s true or not,” said Father Kostas. “But legend holds that this hotel was once owned by two Dutchmen who were twin brothers. They both loved the same girl, and they fought a duel over her at the break of day in Hyde Park. Both of them fired their pistols at the same time, and they killed each other. Ever since then, the hotel has been haunted, or so they say.”
“But are you sure that nobody has ever been hurt?” asked Dad.
“Yes, I have never heard of anyone ever coming to any harm. In fact, I knew the former manager of this hotel quite well, some twenty years ago. He said that the ghosts were always quite helpful.”
The children felt a little reassured not so much by the priest's words, but by his personality that was very calming.
So they did manage to fall asleep. And they slept soundly until Heracles started barking. He was in the main room, and he would not stop. His barks got shriller and shriller. The kids heard dad get up and go into the room to tell him to calm down. Then they heard Heracles whimpering.
“Dad, what’s happening, is it a ghost?” called out Yogi. Dad did not answer. So the kids got up and very cautiously opened their bedroom door. It led directly into the main room. Dad was sitting on a bench by the window, with Heracles on his lap, shaking like a leaf. Dad was stroking the dog’s curly head.
“What happened, you look like you’ve seen a ghost!” said mum, who had also arrived, wearing her dressing gown.
“You have seen a ghost, haven’t you?” said Nafsi. “Was it a servant, like the night watchman described?”
“No,” said Dad, shaking his head. “They weren’t human at all. They were like a pair of greyhound dogs. And when I came into the room, I shooed them away, and they went through the door.”
“You mean, out into the corridor?”
“Yes, but the door was closed. They went straight through it.”
“Oh,” said Yogi, “So the ghosts are real, then?”
“I never thought I would say this,” said their Dad, “But I can only tell you what I saw with my own eyes.
And that was the second part of our spookie story, the Dutch Hotel. How do you feel now that Dad has seen a ghost dog? Are his eyes playing tricks on him? It seems that Heracles was pretty spooked too.
And I’m delighted to dedicate this story to
Sofia and Henry. Their mum Kamila writes
I just wanted to let you know my kids, Sofia and Henry, love Storynory, we couldn't get through car trips without it!
The Katie's stories are a big favorite, and we really enjoyed the Dutch Hotel as well, can't wait to see what will happen next!
Yeah! I want to know what happens next too. Thank you so much Sofia, Henry, and Kamala for supporting Storynory on Patreon.