Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ghosts in hotel rooms

Everyone loves a good ghost story even if they know it’ll give them nightmares later – and I’m no exception. There’s something thrilling about listening to someone else’s tales of eerie moans and white apparitions in the company of friends, knowing these aren’t happening to you.


However, the fear factor takes on an entirely different, more spine-chilling dimension when you’re in a strange and ancient land. And especially when the ghost is literally sharing your hotel room. 


Ghost stories are especially plentiful in Europe. In Europe, every other building is at least 300 years old and countless people have lived, died – and even been murdered - within their walls.

Lots of buildings in France and England even have plaques on their walls saying something like "XXX died here in XXX," when a famous person is known to have died in that house. It's very interesting from a historical viewpoint, but certainly not if you're wary of ghosts.

My cousin, who claims to have a third eye that enables her to see spirits, recently recalled checking into a hotel in Bordeaux, France. She said she saw images of people from the past all along the hotel corridor, as she was walking to her room. “They all looked pale and were lined up against the wall expressionless,” she told me.

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Most Europeans I’ve spoken to don’t seem to care much about having to live with spirits long gone. They even put up patiently with the idiosyncrasies of the ghosts - taking everything in with an amused air. Perhaps banging doors and footsteps on the second floor are as much a part of their lives as cable television and the internet.

Some Asian visitors however, still prefer to stay away from anything other-worldly. I certainly do. Many years ago, I checked into a small hotel in Innsbruck, Austria which had all its walls painted black. The somber atmosphere should have foretold of eerie occurrences but I naively chalked this up to a taste for the avant-garde and a penchant for dark colors.

In the middle of the night, however, the radio in this Innsbruck hotel began blaring at full blast. Startled out of my sleep, I immediately shut it off. Later, amidst the fog of a waking dream, it came on again. The skeptical might attribute this to faulty wiring but who really knows?

And why did the radio only turn on at midnight?


Another summer, I was staying alone at one of Venice’s top hotels and very much enjoying a room filled with antiques and facing the Grand Canal. However, again, in the middle of the night, I awoke with a jolt, feeling incredibly hot and suffocated.

I automatically assumed it was the air conditioning and so I called the front desk to complain about the air-conditioning.

 The night clerk arrived within minutes, white as a sheet. Without explanation, he moved me to another room where I promptly resumed a comfortable rest. I thought it odd that he hadn’t even bothered to check the room’s cooling system, but soon forgot about this.

I stayed on for a few more days, walking around Venice and making the rounds of my favorite shops. Later, I found out from one of the young men at the concierge desk - who I bumped into at a Venice pizzeria one evening - that my first hotel room was known to be haunted, and that guests often complained feeling suffocated while sleeping there.

That's why the night clerk looked like he'd literally seen a ghost...

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