Everyone I meet has a story about the Grand Hyatt Taipei. But these tales rarely touch upon the hotel’s spacious rooms, extensive buffet breakfast or enviable location next to the famous Taipei 101 tower. Instead, they’re all about the hotel’s rumoured resident ghosts.
I hear anecdotes about unexplained, late-night knocks on room windows and mysterious noises in the corridors. One friend says she checked in, immediately fell ill with a fever, then miraculously recovered when she stepped outside the hotel the next morning. Another friend stayed for one night, then vowed to never set foot inside again. He won’t say what happened.
So my mind is racing when a porter picks up my suitcase and ushers me across the marble lobby towards reception. Is there a specific room I should avoid? Are there blood-hungry ghouls lurking in the mirrored lifts? Will I be woken in the night by a shrill scream – or maybe something even creepier, maybe just a cold finger running up the back of my neck?
No, I won’t be, a hotel employee assures me. The hotel’s reported to be haunted because travellers believe that it’s built on the site of a prisoner-of-war camp and that people were executed there. And that’s simply not true. The Grand Hyatt Taipei is built on the remains of a military warehouse, but it was used to store munitions, not prisoners.
Still, I’ve heard too many stories to be completely convinced. After checking in at the front desk, I’m whisked straight upstairs to my Grand Executive View Suite, a stylish and plush apartment that starts to put my mind at ease. The space is split into a spacious living room, a warm, cosy bedroom and a sleek bathroom tiled with large slabs of grey marble. All of the rooms are decorated in plush fabrics and have enormous windows. Look at all this light! Surely no ghosts would linger here.
Paranormal activity promptly forgotten, I relax and enjoy the hotel. The brand new Oasis Spa is a calming retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city outside, the heated outdoor pool is the perfect place to wile away an afternoon and the café serves up delicious lava croissants that ooze a rich chocolate sauce through layers of flaky, buttery pastry. Even if there are rumours of some light paranormal activity, all of this pampering makes the risk worth it.
But then night falls, and my fears resurface. Thoughts of ghosts rising from the floor, stiff arms creepily outstretched, flood my mind. I have visions of ghouls rattling doors when the clock strikes midnight, slipping from room to room and terrorizing guests.
Despite my fears, I slip into the enormous king-size bed and quickly fall into a deep, dreamless sleep and am only disturbed by … my alarm. A sleep that feels like it lasted five minutes actually lasted eight hours. No spectres slunk out of the wardrobe. No spirits had slipped through the walls. There wasn’t even a bump in the night.
Which leaves me wondering, why all the talk about ghosts? Why discuss restless souls when the Oasis Spa offers everything from a deep-tissue Meridian Massage to a soothing Moor Mud Wrap? Why linger on rumours when there are so many concrete things to focus on – the food, the facilities, the location? Like everyone who’s stayed at the hotel, I now have plenty of stories about the Grand Hyatt Taipei – but if you’re looking for tales of a house of horrors, then you’ll have to go somewhere else.