A Time-Traveling Experience: Hotel From the Past

In October 1979, two couples in Dover, England, set off on a vacation together through France and Spain. The journey turned out to be one that took them to another world. When they tried to find a hotel to stay, they were struck by some posters advertising a circus. “It was a very old-fashioned circus,” Pauline recalled. “That’s why we took so much interest.” 

Further on, they did find an old-fashioned building marked “hotel.” Inside, they discovered, almost everything was made of heavy wood, and there seemed to be no evidence of modern conveniences as telephones or elevators. Their rooms were also extremely simple. There were no locks but simple wooden catches, no pillows, and the bathrooms had old-fashioned plumbing.

The next morning, when they were eating breakfast, two gendarmes entered wearing very old-fashioned caped uniforms. There was also a woman wearing a silk evening gown sitting opposite from them. “It was strange,” Pauline said. “It looked like she had just come in from a ball, but it was seven in the morning. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.” After receiving what turned out to be very bad directions to Avignon from the gendarmes (they didn’t seem to understand the word “auto-route”), the couples were astonished to pay a bill that came to only 19 francs. They left before the staffs could change their minds. 

After two weeks in Spain, the couples made a return trip through France and decided to again stay at the odd but very cheap hotel. This time, however, the hotel could not be found, even after the couples drove up and down the road three times looking for it, certain they were in the exact same spot (they saw the same circus posters). After returning to Dover, the pictures they took of the hotel did not process, as if the pictures had never been taken. Little research revealed that French gendarmes wore uniforms of that description prior to 1905.

My friend M S shared this story with me. It first appeared in “World of Strange Phenomena” by Charles Berlitz, published 1988 by Wynwood Press. The story also appeared on numerous blogs, uncredited. This story was also reported on the British TV Series “Strange But True” in 1995, Season 2, Episode 2 at 3:39.

When I asked her if she had any “ghost stories” to share with me, she said she remember she read this story somewhere a while ago. She also pulled up the thread she saw it at to help her better tell me the story. She really liked this story because it was “spooky, creepy, and mysterious”. When I asked her if she thought the story was real, she said no. Regardless, she really liked how there are so many detailed descriptions to make the story believable. I asked her why does she classify this as a “ghost story”, if there were no mentions of particular “spirits” of any deceased person. She said that the fact that the couples encountered the buildings and the people in them, but then turned out to have never existed, must be related to some form of “spirits” or ghosts from the past.

Personally, I also really enjoyed the story. I believe the reason for that is there are so many detailed descriptions, such as the names and exact locations provided. Also, the fact that there are no other evidences but merely the verbal accounts of these couples make the story more appealing; it adds a mysterious shade as there are no ways to prove its validity, while the details make it sound so realistic. I believe this is not necessarily a “ghost story”, but definitely a paranormal or supernatural story. The “time-traveling” aspect of the story also adds a science-fiction tone to the story. If the couples did travel “back in time”, then the people they saw and talked to could be considered as spirits of people of the past. However, another argument could be made that the couples simply entered another dimension, so their state should be questioned, rather than those of the dimension they entered. As it can be seen, the perception of the story can differ from person to person, depending on how they approach it.