Monday, December 20, 2010

Scaring Up a Splendid Stay in Salem, Part One

Alright, I daresay that I've kept you waiting more than long enough for a post on our recent stay at Salem's absolutely fantastic Hawthorne Hotel and I guess it's past time for the "reveal" as they call it on Ghost Hunters and the like.  First, though, I have to set the scene, right?

For those of you who've been around the blog for awhile and have kept up with my wordy ramblings, I'm not going to post the whole history of the Hawthorne again but if you'd like a refresher or are new, please feel free to click over here where you'll find history and pictures galore.  It was that post which led us to our recent stay at the Hawthorne so that we could find out firsthand if rooms #325 and #612 were, in fact, haunted.

Our first night had us staying in Room #325 where stories told of the sounds of a child crying, invisible hands touching guests, and the bathroom lights and plumbing turning on seemingly of their own accord. As a matter of fact, when Jamie and I arrived to check in on Wednesday afternoon, the desk clerk who warmly greeted me like family (Elizabeth I believe it was) told us that the couple who had stayed in the room the night before, who had no knowledge of the room reportedly being haunted, told her on check-out that their daughter had mentioned hearing a child crying during the night. Excellent!  I mean, er, spooky!

So what does Room #325 look like you might be asking yourself ... you are asking yourself that, right?  Well, even if you're not, you're going to find out!  Even though it's called Room #325, it's actually two rooms - four if you want to be technical and count the bathroom and the shower closet!

Room #325 Collage

This collage gives you a little bit of an idea of what the room looks like ... when you first enter the door you step into the bigger of the two sleeping areas which also has a nice seating area next to a very large closet where I had Jamie stow all of our stuff until I could get pictures taken!  Actually, she knew the drill without even asking so I suspect she's getting better at this!  See what looks like a closet door in that top left picture? That's not a closet ... that's the shower; hence the reason I call it a "shower closet"!   It might be a bit on the small side but the water pressure was divine and the hot water was abundant!

From the larger of the two bedrooms you walk through the door of the bathroom and then through the door on the other side (I guess you could call it a walk-through bathroom) to reach the smaller of the two bedrooms which also has a nice flat-screen TV of its own, a comfy chair to sit in, and separate temperature controls. Allow me to show you a few more views of the rooms minus the shower closet and bathroom:

Room 325 at the Hawthorne Hotel
The bigger room & sitting area 

The smaller bedroom in Room #325
The smaller room

Jamie in Room #325

Jamie posed in the chair in the smaller bedroom which I think was about the time she told me that she would be sharing the bed with me in the larger of the two rooms and Amanda, who was going to come over from Montserrat and spend a couple nights with us, could have the smaller room all to herself.  Not that she was scared of sleeping by herself in a reportedly haunted room, mind you, but she thought it was the sisterly thing to do.  Uh-huh ... right ... 

One of the things that I absolutely love about the Hawthorne (there are actually many but for now I'll just tell you about one of them!) is that the windows open so that people like myself who like to take pictures of everything can lean out of them and take pictures of the surrounding view minus having the screen in the way.  Granted, having a screen in front of your camera lens can make for some interesting effects but I guess in the big picture of things - no pun intended! - it's better to be able to move the screen up and out of the way.  Which is what I did to take pictures of the "view" from Room #325 - 

View from Room #325

View from Room #325

Obviously people don't book the room for the view but it was rather comforting to know that if a fire broke out, we'd be all set as we could have easily climbed out the window and made our way to safety.  Well, not that I can picture myself "easily" climbing out of a window or much of anything else but I think you know what I mean!

After getting ourselves situated and determining that dinner was going to be a late one as Amanda wanted to eat with us but she had some obligations to take care of at Montserrat until after 7:00, Jamie and I wandered down to the lobby to check things out and take some pictures.

The Lobby of the Hawthorne Hotel

Another thing I love about the Hawthorne in addition to the windows opening is its beautiful lobby - made even more beautiful when it's decked out for Christmas!

Jamie enjoying hot cider

One of the things that Jamie loved about the Hawthorne was the hot apple cider that was available on a table in the corner next to The Hawthorne restaurant.   While she sipped her cider, I wandered around and took some pictures.

Grand Ballroom Entrance

The Hawthorne Hotel Grand Ballroom at Night

The Grand Ballroom at the Hawthorne is a very popular spot for weddings and other meetings and it's quite easy to see why!  When we were there in September there was a wedding going on so I couldn't take any pictures but I was able to this time! 

Hot Apple Cider - Nom, nom, nom!

Have I mentioned that Jamie really, really loved the hot apple cider??

While Jamie continued enjoying her hot cider, I was busy taking pictures of a beautiful Christmas tree made of poinsettia plants in the lobby that I really liked.  I liked it so much that I decided to try to play photographer and shoot it from several angles in a rather futile attempt to be artistic ... 

Pointsettia Tree in the Hawthorne Lobby

PoinsettiaTree & Mirror

Pointsettia Tree & Mirror

I'm thinking I need to work on my lighting a bit. Oh, and in that last picture, see that bit of green down there in the right-hand corner?  I don't know what that is but it showed up in more than one picture that I took throughout the hotel and it didn't matter if I was using flash or not ... which in the case of that last picture, I was not.  Insert Twilight Zone theme music here.

Christmas Wreaths in the Lobby

In addition to the beautiful poinsettia tree and the other gorgeous poinsettias around the lobby, beautiful wreaths decorate the bookcases that contain "many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore" as our old pal E.A. Poe might have said.  The really quaint thing about these books, though, is that patrons of the Hawthorne are more than welcome to select a book to read and if they've not finished it before checking out, they're invited to take the book with them and then mail it back after it's been finished so that another patron can enjoy it at another time.  Show of hands ... how many other hotels let you do something cool like that? Anyone? Anyone? Yeah ... I didn't think so!

About the time I was starting to think that eating my shoe was a good idea, Amanda finally called and said that she was ready for me to come pick her up in Beverly so while Jamie stayed in our room and kept an eye out for anything unusual, I made the short drive over the bridge to Montserrat and picked up the oldest daughter.  Upon arrival back at the Hawthorne I quickly showed Amanda where she'd be spending the night, made sure that Jamie hadn't had any "visitors" while I was gone, and then we made our way downstairs for a much-anticipated dinner at the Hawthorne's Tavern on the Green.  The name of the restaurant stems from the fact that the Hawthorne is located directly next to Salem Commons which in most New England towns is also known as "the Green" - an area that was often common grassland at the center of a town or village that was used for grazing and sometimes for community events like times of celebration or public ceremonies.  In other words, sort of a park!

Tavern on the Green Entryway

Regardless of what you want to call the area next to the Hawthorne, the Tavern can only be called wonderful.  This was my third visit to its warmly wood-paneled interior having first had lunch there way back in October of 2008 and then visiting again for dinner when Jamie and I stayed at the Hawthorne in September.  I was really looking forward to our dinner on Wednesday, though, as I read the Hawthorne Hotel's blog and I knew that the Tavern was offering a three-course Tavern dinner on Wednesday nights for an extremely reasonable price. My mouth had been watering for the Turkey Pot Pie made with roasted turkey, potatoes and vegetables baked in turkey velouté and topped with a puff pastry crust ever since I saw it featured in a blog post!

Amanda Joins Us for Dinner

While the girls mulled over the menu and weighed the pros and cons of a burger versus a sandwich versus seafood, I had already made up my mind!  Jamie finally decided on a BLT with onion rings and Amanda choose a bacon cheeseburger as apparently you can't go wrong with bacon.  We also ordered a warm crab and spinach dip with blue corn tortillas for an appetizer as it just sounded too good not to order!  Unfortunately, I barely got to sample the dip as my sausage and potato soup that came with my meal was too good for me to stop eating and by the time I finished, the girls had made short work of the dip and chips!  I guess we were all hungry!

In addition to my soup and entrée, my Tavern dinner also included a Chef's Choice dessert which turned out to be an absolutely delicious apple-cranberry strudel that was warm and flaky and perfect for a cold winter evening.  I was nice enough to even let Jamie have a few bites as she was too full from her BLT to order her own dessert but apparently mine looked awfully darned good - which it was!

Dinner at the Hawthorne Tavern Collage

Oh, and don't feel bad for Amanda in the Dessert Department as she ordered a Chocolate Crescendo of her very own -

Chocolate Crescendo

In addition to the beautiful wood paneling and comfortable seating in the Tavern, there is also an absolutely gorgeous fireplace where a warm fire was crackling away ...

Fire on the Hearth

... beneath a mantel that was beautifully decorated for the holidays -

Village on the Mantel in The Tavern

Fireplace Mantel Decorations

By the way, you may have noticed that in a good number of the pictures I post of the Hawthorne, there are prints of sailing ships like the one above.  If you're wondering why it's because Salem was, at one time, one of the most important ports in the Nation and it's maritime history is much richer than the witchcraft history that so many people think of when anyone mentions Salem, Massachusetts.  America's first millionaires lived in Salem - sea captains who made their wealth in overseas trade and brought their money and precious cargoes home to Salem.  Yes, 19 men and women died during the witchcraft hysteria of 1692 but if you only go to Salem looking for that history, then you're missing out on way too many other good things.  At least in my own history-loving humble opinion!

Following our wonderfully delicious dinner and desserts in the Tavern, the girls and I made our way back upstairs to spend a little time making good use of the hotel's free internet as well as watching some mindless television before finally deciding to call it a night and turning out the lights.  Oh, and would you look at that! ... This blog post seems to have gone on way too long so you'll just have to come back for the next installment to find out if there was anything that went bump in the night! Darn the luck and my overly wordy posts!

11 comments:

  1. Those poinsettia trees are just gaw-juss! And the desserts! Oh my gravy!

    I love smaller hotels that really know thier business. Makes traveling so worth it... many times even better than the destinations themselves.

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  2. Yes, indeed... the ocean is one of my niece's most favorite things about growing up in Beverly and the thing she misses most about going to college at UMass Amherst.

    The poinsettia tree must've cost a small fortune to assemble! But it is spectacular.

    I'm guessing our 8 day cruise will be about 6 months worth of blog fodder? Is that about right?

    You SO need to get hired as a photo journalista! srsly!

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  3. The Christmas decorations at the hotel are just delightful - what a beautiful place it is, and the food looks yummy!

    I really want to know if your sleep was disturbed by anything spooky so I guarantee I will be back for your next post. :)

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  4. My, oh my. What a fab place! And Barb is right about you needing to be a photo journalist. The Hawthorne needs to at least comp you a stay, complete with meals! Just sayin.

    Big hugs, honey...

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  5. You wrote this so well and provided such wonderful pictures, that it felt as if we were there with you. Now about the ghosts?

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  6. Seems so cozy there! I need to take a trip up North I think!

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  7. How fun, but I kind of knew that you wouldn't get to anything about the hotel during the night. Now we'll wait some more. You are all still here so it couldn't have been too bad.

    I didn't know about Salem having the largest port anywhere. Now that's something you can post about too. I'd like to know about that. You know I love boats. When I think of Salem, Massachusetts I always thing about witches.

    Have a terrific day Linda. Big hug. :)

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  8. what a beautiful place! I LOVE that pointsetta tree! just gorgeous. I'm betting that nothing went bump since form the pics, the place looks so inviting and cozy.

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  9. The Hawthorne ought to have your pictures as part of their next brochure. Excellent!

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  10. my word, that is jaw droppingly beautiful! and your header as well!

    smiles, bee
    xoxoxoxoxoxo

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