Time flies. In a blink the year is almost over and it's Halloween once more.
I've been asked point blank so many times, which is the most haunted hotel I've checked into and in retrospect, in the 20 years I've been making temporal homes out of hotels, the one thing that is quite clear to me is that some departed souls do not wish to bid adieu yet to their temporal homes on earth. I cannot tell you in no uncertain term that ghosts exists, but I do think when people die some parts are left behind, and sometimes we feel their presence and more eerily, they know we are there too.
The 'bad news' is that, I think these presences are everywhere, even right where we live, at home. Personally I've had more run ins with them at home than in hotels and usually they loom larger and pose more menacingly in human residences. I think it's a territory dispute of sorts and since spirits don't recognize deeds and lease contracts, such disputes always tend to be quite bothersome. By comparison, given the sheer size of hotels and the number of rooms there are in each property, one must wonder why some rooms are haunted while others are not and if only 1 out of 1000 rooms is haunted, why do you have to check into that one?!
To be fair, I think most stories of hauntings in hotels are just exaggerated hearsay. One of the reasons why there are always murmurings along the corridors is because we expect to hear them. When people are left to their own devices, the imagination can go wild. Little incidents can escalate into full scale dramas. I know of this person who created a sensation in a hotel lobby because he claims things move by themselves in his room. Turns out that's due to loose hinges on a cabinet door and a powerful ceiling fan.
Of course some hotels are deem haunted on more 'credible' basis and one surefire way to induct a haunted hotel is via the deaths that have taken place there. There are many hotels with infamous deaths even in recent memory. There was a murder in Westin KL in 2004 that was never solved and the lack of answers has led to rife speculations that the hotel is 'dirty'. The Hilton Singapore also had a spate of bad luck with unfortunate demises when a groom fell to his death in a freak accident in 2010. Didn't help that earlier in 1974 Briton Linda Culley was murdered and hacked into 13 pieces at the same hotel. People tend to make automatic connections, however illogical.
At the Ritz Carlton Singapore a Japanese businessman stabbed himself to death in the bathroom in 2009 and caused a stir in the local media. Ironically the RC Singapore has always prided itself over its iconic bathrooms with the octagonal windows. Nearby at the Swissotel, a series of horrific and baffling deaths from falling starting with a Russian tourist in 2013 followed by at least 3 others since had sullied the hotel's reputation, to say the least. Very graphic visuals of the deaths circulating the net didn't help ease speculations.
I think people always equate violent deaths to possible hauntings, so much so that it's been etched into our consciousness that once someone dies in a hotel, it's bound to be haunted. I supposed on that count all hospitals, as well as every field leveled by earthquakes and every coast inundated by floods are confirmed haunted. In fact after the great Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and the Japanese tsunami 2011 there have been virulent sightings of ghosts by many in the affected areas.
I really don't know the veracity of these reports nor do I purposely avoid such places. I feel for the souls of the painfully departed and try to be mindful of the pain and sufferings they leave behind for their loved ones. I was in Japan 2 months after the earthquake in 2011 and saw such beauty amidst the destruction it's ethereal. I've also recently toured Sri Lanka, an island ravaged by years of civil war and the catastrophic Boxing Day tsunami, and am happy to report that I was only haunted by the occasional mozzie whilst lodging at some of the most affected regions of the island.
So where do I think is the most haunted hotel in the world?
Actually the most haunted hotel in the world is the rooms we keep empty for fear in our heart and mind. I've learnt to utter a prayer for strength before I sleep at night whether I am at home or in the darker remote corners of existence. Bathed in the light of clear conscience, I do not have any spooky experiences to recount for some time now.
Not even when I last visited the grandee of haunted hotels, The Grand Hyatt Taipei a year ago. It has been renovated so extensively since my previous visit it's like a new slate for the property altogether.
So was it really haunted before?
Let's leave that to another Halloween, another post, perhaps.
Interesting lobby decorations @ Grand Hyatt Taipei