Raven Hall Hotel (where Bram Stoker is thought to have written some of Dracula)


The scary novel Dracula was published in June 1897 with a first print run of 3,000 copies. Reviews were mixed however over the last century it has steadily sold millions of copies. Here I am at the coastal Raven Hall hotel where Irish novelist Bram Stoker wrote some of the novel. It sits in a small quiet scenic village clinging to the coast in east Yorkshire. As I arrived and walked up the drive a child's party was about to start and I followed some flustered-looking mums up the main door of the hotel, some carrying red balloons.


Dracula was in the planning stages for about five years. In the summer of 1890 a 45-year-old Bram Stoker was on holiday on the east coast. In Whitby - about fifteen miles north of this hotel - he entered the library and requested a rare book about religion and Romania. The librarians allowed the novelist to browse through the precious tome. He made some notes to further develop the idea he had about. He found the name Dracula in this book and he thought it meant "devil" in Romanian. On this visit or a later one he stayed at the Raven Hall Hotel and wrote some of the novel - or at least fleshed out the plot. Accounts vary. He wrote most of the novel three years later in Cruden Bay (a small village on the north coast of Aberdeenshire,).


While whizzing around the countryside I thought I'd go and fling my eyes on the hotel. I parked in the car park and had a stroll around the perimeter of the place. Judging by the people I bumped into the average guest was about sixty years old. Strolling along the main side elevation of the building I looked up at the windows and wondered if Bram had one of the dearer rooms offering a view to Robin Hood's bay. Could he ever guess what a successful novel he was writing? He penned six novels already but the next one about Dracula would create tentacles that reached across the planet. The paper copy was only half of the story as there have been over forty Dracula films made. When Universal film studio's released a version in 1931 it sold 50,000 advanced tickets at one cinema alone culminating in a $700,000 profit.


Accounts vary as to how much of Dracula was written in his hotel. I saw a documentary where the narrator stayed in the hotel though the hotel owners confessed to not knowing which room he'd occupied. He may have penned ten pages here, maybe a hundred.


I spoke to a couple on a bench then did another tour of the hotel's perimeter walls that prevent guests falling down cliffs. When I returned to the couple fifteen minutes later they were still sat on the bench. The woman said, "I'm sorry if I looked at you funny before - I was disagreeing with my husband about something and I'm afraid you got the facial expression." I told her most women look at my funny anyway (and I didn't notice anyway.) Another couple on mobility tricycles told me they'd booked a weekend at the hotel a year before Covid but had cancelled due to them both suffering from a bout of astute diarrhea. They had only just felt strong enough to finally stay at the hotel - that truly was some bad diarrhea. I did a salute and left.