There can be no sight more absurd than five tipsy mummybloggers trying to hide behind a teeny tiny cart in the dead of a Barcelona night, as they keep watch on a spooky hotel.
Unless it’s the sight of those very same mummybloggers shrieking their heads off and running as fast as their little legs will carry them, as Frankenstein’s monster lumbers out of the hotel and starts coming towards them through the shadows …
This was the scene at 1.30am yesterday – no, actually today – as Jo Beaufoix, Sticky Fingers, Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy, Littlemummy and I all tested out the most unusual offering at amusement park Port Aventura.
This is a real horror of an inn, going by the name of Hotel Burn, where you pay €240 a night to be scared very nearly to death. This involves people jumping out of wardrobes at you, hiding under your bed, writing ‘tonight you die’ on your mirror and leaving your bath full of blood.
It turns out that for ten months of the year, Port Ventura is a normal family park, offering the usual mix of squeal-inducing rollercoasters, like Dragon Khan, and more sedate rides aimed at little ones (and scaredy cats like me), like the lovely China Teacups. Then, from September to November, it gets Halloween fever and the place starts to sprout ghosts, ghoulies and a lot of fake cobwebs.
During the day, the pumpkins, ravens and vultures are all quite kitsch. At night, when it’s very dark and the place is full of people sporting incredibly realistic face painting – we saw someone with a cigarette stubbed out on his face and a woman with a huge, oozing gash on her cheek – it all takes on a more spooky air. Strangely, it seems that despite this, in Spain Halloween is still very much a family occasion – we saw tiny children at the evening Parade of the Monsters, and the show – featuring Death with his scythe, a man being electrocuted, the girl from the Exorcist writhing on a bed, a caged man in a strait jacket and a zombie bride, was finished off by, believe it or not, Woody Woodpecker in a dracula cape.
The Halloween attractions are given a rating so you can decide whether or not your little ones are going to enjoy a shiver down the spine or simply howl the place down. Rides and shows are awarded up to three pumpkins for scariness.
With Hotel Burn, there is no confusion, though – it’s just plain frightening. Port Aventura PR chief Oriol Garcia Valls has tried it himself and says, ‘It’s 12 pumpkins. I tried it and was chased round my room by a man with a chainsaw.’
It’s not my idea of a relaxing night, and Oriol says it’s common for guests to creep downstairs at 1am to take refuge in the lobby until 3am – the time when all the scary stuff stops, so that people can get a bit of rest. You even have to sign a disclaimer before checking in, saying you don’t suffer from heart conditions. This year, it was fully booked almost as soon as the details went up on the website.
Luckily, Hotel Burn does not take children, so that’s my excuse all sorted out. Our merry band of mummybloggers stayed at the Hotel Gold River, next door to horrifying Hotel B, which is brand new but built in a Wild West pioneering style. Log cabins at the back of the hotel are Little House on the Prarie dinky, or for high-end luxury, there is Lucy’s Mansion. There are three other hotels as well, dotted around the park, and there’s loads of information on rates, on other rides, on various promotions and on how to get there in the first place at the website, Port Aventura. I came via Ryanair to Reus airport, just ten minutes away, and went back via Barcelona airport on Easyjet, which involved an hour’s drive and an hour waiting to check in, so I know which option I prefer.
It was such a pleasure to be out and about and in the sun, so many thanks to Port Aventura for a fantastic stay. The best part of the trip was getting to know warm and wonderful Jo and gorgeous Sticky, and, of course, seeing the lovely Are We and fabulous Little again – it seemed as though we’d been friends forever as we had a fantastic evening of tapas and chat before we got a bit brave and ventured to Hotel Burn.
And Frankenstein? Did he pounce? Did all the mummybloggers live to tell the tale? I’m glad to report that they did – he simply came outside, shrugged his shoulders at us and sparked up a cigarette. Very Spanish.