Jamie Davis Whitmer is an author, ghost hunter and traveler. Her book Haunted Asylums, Prisons and Sanatoriums was published in 2013, and this could be considered a sequel, of sorts.
She opens the book with practical information on what it takes to do a full investigation at sites like old prisons and hospitals. These are expensive and time-consuming since the entire building must be rented to do an investigation. However, hotels that have a reputation for being haunted can be had for the price of the room, and many offer ghost tours for those who just want to visit. If you’re an avid spirit-seeker without a big budget, this is much more affordable. The Whitmers were able to use the tools of the trade in their room, or within hotel common rooms with permission from the manager. It never hurts to ask.
In the introduction, she shares her experience with spirits of the dead and her ideas of what, who, and why these hauntings occur. Her husband and co-author, Robert (or Bob), also shares his thoughts. He’s a practical man and says he is “open to the possibility that things exist that I cannot see, but … I go into this endeavor with an open but cautious mind.”
The author did a great deal of research on the ten hotels featured in the book. She opens each chapter with the history of the original owner(s), photographs of the hotel, notable events in town, the natural landscape and features, and tales of famous deaths, hauntings and experiences that gave these hotels their notoriety. She and Bob both write their first-person accounts of what they did—or didn’t—experience during their stay at each place.
Occasionally, the couple is delighted with their stay in the hotel but disappointed that they experienced nothing more than a great night’s sleep. Of course, ghosts aren’t on the payroll and don’t always show up when people want them to! On other stays, Ms. Whitmer writes of doors mysteriously opening, corner-of-the-eye glimpses of people who weren’t there when she turned her head, and an emotional experience that left her shaken.
It’s hard to resist the charm of these old hotels. If you enjoy “ghost tourism” and are looking for a firsthand guide to the top 10 haunted hotels, you should read this first before planning your trip. The people who led their tours were engaging and knowledgeable and clearly enjoyed their jobs. While room and tour prices will change, the authors do their best to help you plan your trip accordingly
I’m scheduled for a stay on the Queen Mary in a few months, and eager to tour to see the places that the authors described so beautifully. While I doubt I’ll see a ghost, I will know a bit more about the history of this great ship-turned-hotel, and the Whitmer’s account of their stay will have me keeping watch out of the corner of my eye.