Six hotels in Asia with spooky reputations – and the stories behind them

12:43 | 05/04/2018
From Bangkok and Taipei to Narita and Macau, these are the hotels that made some vacations, well, impossible to forget.
6 hotels in asia with spooky reputations and the stories behind them
A scene from the Thai horror film Shutter. Not recommended for late-night viewing when travelling alone. (Photo source: Shutter)

Hotels are an integral component of travel. A perfectly wonderful vacation could be ruined by a stay at a fleabag bed-and-breakfast with fraudulently gorgeous photos on its website. Sometimes, traffic from the street through non-doubled-glazed windows keeps you up at night.

And other times, the thing keeping you up used to have a pulse and is now going bump, bump, bump in the night right there in your room.

We’ve all heard about supposedly “haunted” hotels. Stories of lights switching on by themselves, an uneasy feeling of being watched, footsteps that stop at the bed, blink-and-you-miss sightings along the corridor... Basically, enough material for a Thai horror movie or two.

Some of us, who are sceptics, shrug off these tall tales as nonsense. Others are habitually superstitious, knocking on every hotel room door before stepping in. And then, there are the thrill-seekers who actively seek out these storied accommodations just to see if “anything happens”. Cue creepy music for effect.

Whatever your stand on the paranormal, this is a list of hotels around Asia that just can’t shake their curious reputations. Most of these eerie rumours are easily Googled. Some of these stories – believe it or not – are TripAdvisor reviews. All of these urban legends are unverifiable.

Make what you will of these peculiar tales. Happy travels!


6 hotels in asia with spooky reputations and the stories behind them
(Photo source: Baiyoke Sky Hotel)

At 88 floors above Bangkok's famous Pratunam Market, Baiyoke Sky Hotel was Thailand's tallest hotel as recently as 2012, and is part of the 304-metre tall Baiyoke Tower II.

But what looms over this architectural feat are the spooky experiences of some hotel guests. There is a review on Tripadvisor that mentions sounds from the bathtub, footsteps, key cards that got mysteriously moved, and even the sensation of something cold passing by.

Some connect these strange goings-on to the demise of three workers in May 2012. They were putting up billboards on the building when the cable suspending their gondola snapped. The gondola tilted sharply, plunging three out of the five workers to their deaths 67 floors below.


6 hotels in asia with spooky reputations and the stories behind them
An old picture of Grand Hyatt Taipei's lobby that displayed the talisman-like paintings. (Photo source:

Renovated a few years ago, the modernised Grand Hyatt Taipei is a sight to behold. Its beautiful, marbled lobby and rooms with a modern Oriental theme are certainly worthy of an international celebrity guest list boasting the likes of Hugh Jackman, Song Hye Kyo, Nicolas Cage and Hidetoshi Nakata.

But Google the five-star hotel and you'll also call up posts about experiences with scares, not stars. Like the sound of a third person snoring when there were only two people in the room. Another guest was purportedly kept up the whole night by a non-faulty toilet that was being flushed repeatedly.

The Internet might even dredge up photos of an old Grand Hyatt Taipei showing two giant talisman-like paintings that used to be displayed in the lobby.

The hotel management's insistence that they were gifts from a fengshui master for luck, and not for warding off spirits, didn't stop the stories from spreading. Some guests even took to the Internet to advise checking the paintings in the rooms – if you find a talisman at the back, apparently, you might want to ask for another room.


6 hotels in asia with spooky reputations and the stories behind them
(Photo source: Hotel Marroad Narita International)

Its proximity to Narita Airport makes this hotel a popular choice for flight crew. Naturally, the majority of the hotel's tales come from flight attendants.

A colleague shared an account from her ex-air stewardess friend. All through the night, she was kept awake by the sound of a leaking tap coming from above. These were interspersed with noises of loud footsteps moving across the floor from the room upstairs. It only occurred to her the next morning: There wasn't a room above her. She was on the highest floor of the hotel.

Some point to a gruesome incident that took place in 1999 as the source of the hotel’s legend. Members of a cult named Life Space placed a fellow member's rotting corpse in Room 1272, reportedly refusing room service and the management's requests to leave for months. When the police was finally called in on Nov 11, they found the body of Shinichi Kobayashi.

According to the news report, the 66 year old had lost consciousness due to a fatal blood clot in the brain. However, his son refused medical help for him and smuggled him out of the hospital to the cult’s guru Koji Takahashi for treatment. The old man soon died but Takahashi convinced his followers that Kobayashi was still alive and continued "treating" him through touch.


6 hotels in asia with spooky reputations and the stories behind them
(Photo source:

Three hours north of Beijing, along the Yangtze River, is where you’ll find Yu Shan Hotel or Yu Shan Fan Dian. It is said that this 220-room hotel sits on land that used to be part of the royal garden in the Qing dynasty.

Google the hotel and you’ll come across stories of what is supposed to be Empress Dowager Cixi’s spirit walking the hotel grounds and courtyards. Talk about a celebrity sighting.


6 hotels in asia with spooky reputations and the stories behind them
(Photo source:

This hotel has an interesting origins story. Its owner Jamshedji Tata was reportedly denied entry into the Watson Hotel as it was only for white people. The Indian pioneering industrialist was so incensed by the discrimination that he vouched to build a hotel that was worthy of Mumbai and attract people of all races.

This is the completely unproven part of the story.

The Watson Hotel's architect W.A. Chambers drew up the floor plan for the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. But – and here's where it starts to get dodgy – when Chambers returned to India from a trip to England, he apparently found that the hotel was built in the opposite way he had intended.

While some sources reported that he died in London, others say that the disheartened architect apparently committed suicide by jumping from the fifth floor of the hotel. Rumours of Chambers' ghost walking in the old wing have been popular ever since.

Again, completely unverifiable.


6 hotels in asia with spooky reputations and the stories behind them
(Photo source:

If you suddenly smell perfume, you might want to ask for another room. One guest experienced exactly that each time she stepped into the bathroom, even though she did not bring any fragrances with her. The next morning, she apparently found her make-up – which she had laid neatly on the countertop the night before – in disarray.

What she later discovered gave her the chills: A gruesome murder took place in her room in 1997. After having sex with two prostitutes, a man killed them both, chopped up their bodies and flushed the parts down the toilet.

A TripAdvisor review offered another tale. This traveller checked into Room 1009 at 2am. Apparently, he saw an old man wearing a vest and reading glasses enter the room and vanish without a trace. Without every hearing the sound of the door opening or closing.

At least he was quiet. How very considerate.



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