Banff Springs Hotel is one of the highlights of travelling in Canada. The majestic 125 year-old beauty site prominently in the Banff Valley and has welcomed guests from British Royalty to Marilyn Monroe. It goes without saying that many things have occurred within those stately walls with that kind of history. Yet a few guests seem to have lingered well beyond their time here. You might even say they never checked out…
This brings us to one of the most enduring mysteries in Canadiana. The most storied hotel seems to have a secret. That secret is Room 873, which clearly exists, yet has long been covered over. So here’s the question: just what the heck happened in Banff Springs Hotel Room 873 and why is it hidden?
A Missing Room at the Banff Springs Hotel…
Whether you’re into the heebie jeebies or you’re a little more sceptical, you can’t deny there’s something strange about the eighth floor at the Banff Springs. Every floor has a room ending in ’73 – with this exception. Yet when you look at images of this area, you clearly see a room was built here and then bricked up and covered in drywall.
The room is there – as you’ll see in the video below.
The story goes that a family of three checked in to Room 873 years ago; a father, mother and little girl. One night the man went crazy and murdered his two loved ones. We presume he took his own life after, though that seems to get glossed over.
After the investigations, management at the Banff Springs Hotel refurbished the room and put it back in service. But it seems the mother and young one never really moved on; guests in Room 873 were greeted with violent screams in the middle of the night. The startled guests would turn the lights on to find bloody handprints on the walls that would reappear after housekeeping wiped them off.
And supposedly – though this is hearsay – the chilling tale inspired Stephen King to write his horror masterpiece, The Shining, although we know he wrote that at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, and I suspect King buffs will debunk that rumour.
No Ghosts Please – We’re a Business
The Banff Springs Hotel tends to stay quiet about Room 873, and the other apparitions that keep popping up as guests continue to frequent the Grand Dame of the Canadian Rockies.
There’s the bride of the staircase, who fell to her death on her wedding night and has been reported dancing alone ever since. And Sam McAuley, the friendly old Scottish bellman who refused to retire and said he’d work there forever.
Some guests – and even former Banff Springs Hotel employees – will tell you he’s still working there, smiling, and helping out behind the scenes.
Having worked at the (former) Oak Bay Beach Hotel for six years while in university, I can attest strange things do happen. Doris Gravlin, the famous ghost of the Victoria golf course was actually murdered in the hotel and we’d frequently have guests asking why a woman was standing at the foot of their bed at 3AM.
Some guests found that creepy. Others found it fascinating, and stayed at the same room each year for a chance to see the spectre. There was a story there – a tragic one, actually – and it’s safe to say it didn’t end well.
And that hotel – the tudor style Oak Bay Beach – has since been torn down and rebuilt, so I don’t know if Doris found her peace.
Whatever your stance, it’s pretty clear that something happened in Room 873. Call it creepy or fascinating, it certainly adds to the lore and mystique surrounding the impressive legacy of the Banff Springs Hotel – a must-do on any trip across Canada.