Every so often someone will sense a presence, or feel a room suddenly turn cold. There are even stories of a woman in starched white cap and apron passing right through a wall.

Chambermaid Lizzie McGrath stepped onto the Empress Hotel fire escape to say her rosary, just as she did every night before retiring to her sixth-storey room.

Alas, what Lizzie didn’t know was that a contractor had disassembled the platform. She plunged to her doom.

That was in 1909, the year after the hotel opened.

It wasn’t the last we heard (or saw) of poor Lizzie, though. Oh, no. Every so often someone will sense a presence, or feel a room suddenly turn cold. There are even stories of a woman in starched white cap and apron passing right through a wall.

John Adams remembers hearing such tales when he worked at the Empress during his student days in the 1960s. “Her ghost is seen up on the sixth floor,” he says.

In modern times, Adams is better known for his history tours of Victoria, including one called Ghostly Walks. It was, therefore, no surprise to him to learn the Fairmont Empress has been named by Condé Nast Traveler as one of 44 Haunted Hotels Around the World You Can Stay At — If You Dare.

In truth, Adams says, most places qualify as haunted if you look closely enough. “There are ghosts everywhere in the city.”

And ours is far from the only town to titillate tourists with scary yarns. “Haunted tourism is, believe it or not, a pretty popular thing.”

A lively niche market caters to travellers keen on sharing a room or restaurant with the dead. Tourists flock to other destinations on the Condé Nast list, which range from Florence, Italy’s Hotel Burchianti,

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