A Night At A Hotel 70 Years In The Past!

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
May 26, 2020
Last Updated
October 4, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
7 min read
Posted in
Supernatural, Time & Reality

Surprisingly or not, there are many accounts of people stepping from one era into another on record. These apparent time slips can seemingly happen anywhere in the world and appear out of nowhere. Often without those involved in them fully realizing what is happening.

One particularly intriguing case occurred in 1979. Or should that be 1905? The encounter we are about to examine involves two married couples from England who were holidaying in France on their way to Spain. While searching for a place to stay they would find themselves at a hotel that had old-fashioned interior and seemingly old-fashioned guests.

A picture of two hotels - one old, one new - blended together

Do time slips exist?

Later research, after they returned home, would suggest that this strange hotel was not in a specific location, but in a specific time – seemingly somewhere in the early twentieth century.

The case would eventually attract the attention of paranormal researchers from near and far. And while there are discrepancies within the account (which we will also examine), these apparent anomalies might be opportunities to understanding this, and other truly bizarre happenings that apparently surround all of us.

Did the two married couples really travel back in time? Or might the whole thing have been some kind of bizarre group hallucination? Maybe it was some kind of practical joke? Whatever the truth might one day prove to be, the case is a fascinating one. And another small piece of the puzzle that is our collective reality.

The tale, while available in several publications, first appeared in the 1988 book World of Strange Phenomena by Charles Berlitz.

A Search For A Hotel One October Evening In France

According to the account, [1] two married couples from England, Geoff and Pauline Simpson, and Len and Cynthia Gisby, went traveling through Spain and France in the late autumn 1979. After arriving in France on the afternoon of 3rd October, after crossing the English Channel from Dover, they would rent a car to negotiate the French roads. However, by 9:30 pm they made the decision to find somewhere to sleep for the evening. It was then they saw a cozy-looking motel and so turned their vehicle toward it.

Upon reaching it, though, they were informed that there were no rooms available. There was, however, according to the gentleman dressed in an old-fashioned style uniform, a “small hotel” further down the road.

They set off in the direction of the hotel according to the man’s directions. As they traveled down the road, though, they began to notice how narrow it became. What’s more, it appeared as though it was cobbled and uneven.

A long old-fashioned hotel corridor

A long old-fashioned hotel corridor

Even stranger, they noticed several posters advertising “a very old-fashioned circus”. Intrigued but not necessarily concerned, they continued on until they saw a “long, low building” with several lights burning inside. This must be the hotel they mused.

When they pulled their vehicle into the parking area in front of the building and approached it, they were informed by several men stood speaking inside that the building was an inn as opposed to a hotel. A little confused they returned to their car and continued on down the strange, narrow road.

A short time later, they saw two buildings, both old-fashioned looking. One was signed as a Police Station, while the other building had a simple sign that read “Hotel”. Once more, they parked the car and walked toward the two-story building.

A Truly Strange And Bizarre Night

Once inside the door they immediately noticed how old-fashioned the interior was. In fact, there were no signs of any of the modern devices they would expect to find in most hotels. When they further looked around the lobby area, they noticed there were no telephones or even elevators. This old-fashioned style continued when they entered their rooms where not even the doors had locks.

Nevertheless, they would return downstairs to eat before each couple retired to their own rooms for the evening. There, though, they would notice further strange details. There were no curtains or even glass in the windows. Instead, there were simple wooden shutters.

The following morning, even stranger events unfolded. As they ate breakfast, a woman entered the breakfast room wearing a silk evening gown. She also carried a small dog under her arm. Pauline would later recall that although it was only 7 am, she appeared as though “she had just come from a ball”.

Then, things got even stranger.

Old-fashioned window shutters

Old-fashioned window shutters

Two gentlemen entered the room. Both were wearing the same deep blue uniform with a large hat and an old-style cape. It was obvious to the English couples that these men were dressed as old-fashioned gendarmes.

Regardless, the couples would finish breakfast and then return once more to their rooms. Before checking out, they would take pictures of each other near the old-fashioned wooden shutters. It was as they were leaving when the bizarre situation took an even stranger turn.

The Hotel That Was No Longer There!

As they went to leave the hotel the two men went to speak to the gendarmes in order to ask directions. They were looking to reach the “autoroute” (motorway) so they could head toward the Spanish border. However, the two gendarmes didn’t understand what the visitors meant by autoroute.

Assuming they had mispronounced the word, the two men accepted directions from the gendarmes and then Len went to settle the bill with the manager. However, he was charged what was a minuscule amount for four people, each of whom had eaten an evening meal and breakfast (around 19 francs). He would ask the manager to check the bill once more, but he arrived at the same amount. Len settled the bill and then joined the others waiting at the car.

By the time they had set off they had abandoned the directions given to them by the gendarmes and had taken to their own map they had brought with them.

A warped clock face on a deep blue background

Might traveling into the past be possible?

They would eventually arrive at the border and cross over into Spain where they would spend two weeks. When they were traveling back the way they had come, they would make the decision to stop at the strange and quirky hotel once more.

This particular evening was cold with a heavy rain beating down on their car. And of more concern to the two couples, they could not seem to locate the hotel. Believing they must have made a wrong turn somewhere along the way, they drove around again. They would see the signs for the circus and were certain they were on the right road. However, they could not locate the hotel.

They did, however, find the motel where they had received the directions from the man in the old-fashioned uniform.

Missing Pictures And Strange Discoveries!

They would enter the motel once more and ask to speak to the old man who had been working several weeks earlier. However, the person on the desk would claim that no man fitting their description worked there at all.

Now becoming confused and frustrated they drove around the area for a further several hours looking to locate the hotel from a fortnight earlier. However, they simply could not find it. They would eventually have to head to Lyon where they managed to find a room in a modern city hotel.

The following day they would return to England. One of the first things the couples did was to have the films from their cameras developed. All turned out fine – except for the ones that each had taken in the hotel rooms near the wooden slates. They were simply not there. What was even stranger was that all of the film had been used and was present. It was almost as if they had imagined taking the pictures. Both knew, though, they had purposely gone out of their way to take them, leaving them at a loss.

Although the two couples would not speak of the incident outside of their own circle, initially, they would eventually inform several close friends. One of them, after haring the description of the two gendarmes, would find a picture of that style of uniform in a book. The picture was dated as uniforms worn by the gendarmes up until 1905.

Suggestions Of Temporary Time Travel

Several years after the incident a local newspaper would publish the account after they approached the couples. Following that, there was a brief interest in the case from television networks, which would also attract several researchers into the paranormal. One of whom was a psychiatrist, Albert Keller, who would attempt to hypnotically regress Geoff in order that he might remember more from the incident. However, he could not recall any further details.

This is perhaps important as it suggests that the incident did not involve any missed time or memories. For all intents and purposes, he went through the experience as he would any other day. And consequently, he remembered the incident just as clearly.

A depiction of the inner workings of time

Many people claim to have temporarily stepped back in time

Might it be possible, as bizarre as it sounds, that for that brief 12-hour period (give or take) the two couples somehow traveled back in time, perhaps to 1905, or even before that? It is an idea that is too preposterous for many to even contemplate. However, if we accept the authenticity of the account for a moment, aside from some elaborate practical joke, this would be the only sensible explanation.

Might a “time-slip” have opened somewhere from the main road to the quiet country lanes that transported the car and the occupants to another time. That is certainly what many researchers who have examined the case have arrived at. However, there are some loose ends that still need tying up.

Areas Of Discrepancy

There were some areas of concern from those who have researched the case in the years since it appeared in the public domain.

For example, perhaps the most obvious discrepancy, as highlighted by researcher Jenny Randles, is why none of the locals appeared to notice how strange the four English people must have surely appeared to them. Remember, it is believed that they traveled back at least 70 years, if not more. We would imagine that their clothes and even the car would have stood out.

Perhaps these things were noticed only they were discussed away from these strange visitors

Another point of interest is the apparent cash the couples paid with. After all, the currency and coinage would have been quite different in the 1970s to that of the early 1900s. Might it be that the cash they had on them when they seemingly traveled over from one era to another changed with them?  Admittedly, it is highly unlikely. Why, for example, wouldn’t their clothes change?

Just One More Strange And Bizarre Encounter That We Don’t Understand

Once more, we can theorize that such differences may have simply been missed. Or indeed been noticed but not mentioned due to the sheer bizarreness. It is hard to imagine that any issue to do with money would be overlooked so readily. On the other hand, if the strange appearance and vehicle of the visitors were noted by the locals, perhaps they were simply happy to go along with what was happening in the hope that nothing untoward happened to them?

This, however, is just speculation. And it is likely that even the couple involved will have little more idea as to what took place that strange evening in the late autumn of 1979.

Whatever we might think of the account, it is perhaps difficult to believe that two married couples would suddenly make up such a bizarre story. Even more so when they waited several years to do so. They would have been more than aware of the ridicule that they will face.

And while they might have made a small amount of money from speaking of their encounter (although we stress we do not of any such arrangements, this is just a presumption) it certainly wouldn’t have been an amount worthy of weighing up the negative consequences of such a public declaration.

Check out the video below. It looks at cases of apparent time slips.


1 World Of Strange Phenomena, Charles Berlitz, ISBN 9780751 514827

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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