WELCOME to Haunted Wirral, a feature series written by world-famous psychic researcher, Tom Slemen for the Globe.

In this latest tale, Antonia is targeted by ghostly chefs

IN Wirral there are some beautiful and popular award-winning hotels and inns, ranging from grand country house-style retreats to humble rural pubs with half a dozen cosy rooms to accommodate the weary traveller and visiting tourist – and some of these properties are haunted.

In my experience, it's rare for prospective customers to be put off staying at a hotel by rumours of ghosts.

In fact, I'd say a majority of people would see a hotel's phantom as the main attraction in today's paranormal-obsessed society – but – in the following case, the proprietors of a certain well-known Wirral hotel have asked me to withhold the name of their establishment because of the nature of the haunting – and it is a very seedy haunting indeed.

The strange story began to unfold in the late summer of 1996, when a 24-year-old Birkenhead girl named Antonia and 26-year-old Liverpool boyfriend Mikey were loaned a 1972 Volkswagen Camper van by their mutual friend Keith, a Tranmere butcher of 23 and a guitarist with a struggling local band named Wut.

Keith was recovering from a broken leg sustained from a disastrous crowd dive at a poorly-attended gig.

Mikey wanted to take Antonia down to London and then on to Warminster, supposedly a hot-spot for UFOs, but Antonia thought her boyfriend was a terrible driver and thought it would be safer if they explored Wirral instead, and she even had a certain old hotel in mind.

It was a bit pricey, but well worth it because of its picturesque setting amongst acres of countryside and because of the delightful meals and above all, the friendly service.

Antonia had been there a few years ago with her first boyfriend, and recalled sleeping with him for the first time in a four-poster bed in one of the many rooms with their stained-glass windows, oak panelling and antique furniture.

The couple booked in as Mr and Mrs Mead but the hotel receptionist, a young ginger-haired man with a Welsh accent, was suddenly told in a whispering voice by a very petite lady in her fifties that the room he'd booked the couple into – Room 9 - was not ready.

"But that's the only room we have," the receptionist told the lady.

The middle-aged woman gave an awkward smile at Antonia and Mikey and said: "I'm so sorry, but Room 9 isn’t ready and there are no other rooms available."

At this point, another woman – much older that the first one - came out of the doorway of a tiny office behind the reception counter and said: "Room 9 is perfectly ready, Margaret". Then she nodded at the receptionist and he apologised about the mix-up to Antonia and Mikey and took the keys off the hook and led the young couple to the stairs.

Antonia distinctly heard the younger woman ask her senior: "Do you think that's wise?" and the older woman replied: "Oh, stop being such a worry-wart! We had a priest in .."

As soon as Antonia was alone with Mikey in their room, she told him what she had heard and he said: "Are you sure she said "priest"? Might have said "police" or something.

"I can pick up on the vibes of a place, and there’s a peaceful atmosphere in here."

Antonia and Mikey fell fast asleep in the four-poster around 1am, and at three in the morning, Antonia awoke to find four weird men standing over her.

She tried to scream but she realised she'd been gagged – and she was also tied down.

Two of the men leaning over Antonia were dressed in the white uniforms of chefs with the tall toque blanche hats – and these chefs had bizarre masks with long bulbous noses.

One of the chefs was squeezing a large piping bag, covering Antonia’s upper body with a cold stabilized whipped cream, and the other chef was taking cherries from a bowl and putting them on the cream.

Two men on the other side of the bed were dressed in the style of 18th Century footmen with embroidered jackets and white curly wigs - and one of these strangers held a long dagger - the other was holding a silver platter.

"What a tasty living cake, Rupert!" one said to the other.

The other one asked: "May I have the first slice?"

The one with the dagger suddenly said: "Let's see what she tastes like!" and plunged the dagger into Antonia's chest.

She screamed - and awoke in a sweat. Mikey said it had just been a nightmare, but Antonia had the same 'dream' on the following night.

Believing the dream to be some supernatural re-enactment from something that had happened in Room 9 in the past, she went to reception and confronted the two women – who turned out to be sisters who worked for the owner of the hotel.

They said nothing unsavoury had happened in Room 9, but later that day an old female guest approached Antonia in the bar.

She said that in the 1950s, a young French student staying at the hotel criticised the cuisine at the hotel, and said the chefs were incompetent and unhygienic.

The chefs and two kitchen workers dressed up one night, and full of drink, went to the student's room – Room 9 - in masks, and tied her to the four-poster.

They pretended they were going to eat her and gagged her.

A theatrical dagger with a harmless folding blade was plunged into the student. Her heart stopped from shock and would not restart.

The incident was covered up, and the chefs and kitchen workers were dismissed.

The four of them were now all dead. Since their deaths, the tragic prank had been re-enacted by the ghosts in Room 9 - especially when a young girl was staying in that room.

Antonia and Mikey left the hotel immediately.

Haunted Liverpool 34 is out soon.