To the living world, our open sign never lights up and there are never any vacancies.
|My name is Tatiana, and I work as a receptionist at The Abbott Hotel. It was founded a few hundred years ago and remains one of the oldest operating hotels in the country, though you won’t find it on any travel or heritage websites. We’re a quiet, unnoticeable hotel to anyone who isn’t explicitly looking for us. Almost no one is ever looking for us.
We’re a modest size with only three full floors of rooms available for guests, and our guests tend to stay indefinitely. In fact, many have had their reservations longer than I’ve been employed here. Each guest is somewhat eccentric, but that’s to be expected in a place like this. They’re usually harmless and tend not to fuss at each other or at the small staff.
Mr. Charles Abbott, the owner, lives on site in a penthouse apartment on the top floor. The other staff, including myself, also live on site. I have a room decorated exactly to my liking with a private bathroom on the 4th floor. Sallie, the woman who does the cooking and some of the laundry, has her room beside mine. She’s a gentle elderly woman who makes the most delicious biscuits anyone could dream of. Across the hall is a vacant room that belonged to the receptionist before me, Vittoria. She grew homesick and moved to Italy just after she finished training me to take her job. Cecil, the custodian, lives in the room on the opposite end of the hall. I don’t know much about him but he always tells me jokes and stories I don’t understand and then laughs so hard that I can’t help but laugh along with him. There are two other empty rooms on our floor; one belongs to the gardener, so aptly named Herb, who has been on holiday for a couple of weeks now. The other was reserved for the staff member who cared for the horses and carriages back when that was the primary means of transportation, so I’ve never seen it occupied.
Now I suppose I should delve a little bit more into the guests, and what makes this hotel so unique. Our guests are many things; wealthy, poor, young, old, intelligent, funny, strange, and a variety of other adjectives I couldn’t possibly think of all at once. One thing they all have in common though, is that they are no longer alive. The Abbott Hotel operates as a sort of safe haven, or refuge for the dead when they either don’t know where else to go, or just want to see the country and be around company that can actually see and hear them. Some have been here so long that I think they’ve forgotten they have the ability to leave. Maybe they just don’t want to. Inside the hotel we’re all safe. We have each other. We have a few connections to the outside world which is how we gain new clients or get repairs done. You see, there are a select few living people who can see ghosts. Some call them psychics, some call them mediums, some call them crazy. Whatever your preferred label, they do exist, and they make operating this hotel much simpler than it would be if we could only rely on other dead people to get things done. Our electrician, for example, is very much alive but can see all of the guests and interact with everyone here. His great-grandfather is the one who first installed electricity in the building and I guess the gift of being psychic is hereditary.
You may be wondering what happens when we get living guests in the hotel asking for a reservation. This happens much less often than you might imagine. To all of the spirits here, the outside of the building looks like a hotel. It has a sign, and quite a bit of charm and character. To the living world, though, our open sign never lights up and there are never any vacancies. The lights always appear to be off, and the building seems abandoned. The staff and guests walking around would not be visible even if you pressed your face right up against the window. I still don’t understand exactly how it all works, but I do understand that most of the people who pass this building every day could look right at us and not see anything at all.
I’ve been working here for the better part of the last century and I’d begun to grow bored of the same routine every day. I’m grateful to Mr. Abbott for giving me the job and for treating me more like a member of his family than an employee, but no matter how close the staff and guests can be, it doesn’t replace the life or the family I once had. I was longing for something to break up the monotony of our existence, and that something happened to walk through the door last night.