Let me begin by stating for the record that tales of phantoms and poltergeists at the Grand Hyatt Taipei are, for the large part, based on a misconception.
This stems from a debunked belief that the hotel occupies a site which used to serve as a prison camp and torture facility during the Japanese occupation. In reality, the Japanese used it for a much more prosaic purpose: storing supplies. Type 99 rifle ammunition and dried hardtack are generally of little utility to wraiths.
Moreover, the actual plot encompasses more than just the Grand Hyatt; it extends to neighbouring buildings like the Le Meridien and W Taipei. Both hotels seem blissfully free from spectres, which suggests that on the balance, even the undead aren’t big fans of Marriott Bonvoy.
That hasn’t stopped fertile imaginations from flourishing, however. Jackie Chan supposedly fled the presidential suite at 3 a.m after one such paranormal encounter, and the rumour mill went into overdrive after a pair of calligraphy scrolls disappeared from the lobby following a renovation in 2015.
Superstitious individuals believed that with the talismans now gone (which, contrary to popular belief, were generic statements of goodwill rather than an amulet warding off otherworldly beings), there was nothing to hold back the supernatural hoards. In reality, management just decided they clashed with the new contemporary décor.
So I had no misgivings about staying at the Grand Hyatt Taipei, not because I have no belief in the supernatural, but rather because my life is so hopelessly staid that the only emotion they could possibly conjure for me is pity. In that sense, my stance towards the matter matches that of C.S Lewis:
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
Besides, I had a World of Hyatt Category 4 free night voucher to spend.
|🏨 tl;dr: Grand Hyatt Taipei|
|A superb location next to Taipei 101 plus a wide range of dining options and facilities makes the Grand Hyatt Taipei a solid choice. You know, corporeal.|
|👍 The Good||👎 The Bad|
|🇹🇼 When You Wish Upon a STARLUX|
Grand Hyatt Taipei: Arrival and Check-in
The Grand Hyatt Taipei has a prime location downtown, next to Taipei 101 in the Xinyi district. It’s about a 40 minutes from the airport, depending on traffic, and the Taipei 101 MRT station is just adjacent.
When it opened in September 1990, its 850 rooms and suites made it the largest hotel in all of Taiwan- a title it retains till today. The most recent renovations were finished in 2015, which makes it relatively modern, though perhaps not sparkling new.
The lobby certainly puts the “grand” in Grand Hyatt, with its eye-catching chandelier (apparently, some great misfortune may befall it if the opera ghost is not paid his monthly stipend of 20,000 francs), ornate European-style fountain, stately pillars and soaring skylight. It feels like a bit of a missed opportunity that the designers didn’t opt to build a grand staircase, since escalators rather ruin the charm.
I arrived at 11.40 a.m, a few hours ahead of the official check-in at 3 p.m. However, the staff were warm and cheerful, and after a bit of typing at the computer managed to find me an available room.
No, I didn’t ask them how many people had died in it.
Grand Hyatt Taipei: 1-King Bed Room
The lead-in category at the Grand Hyatt Taipei is the 1 King Bed room (also available in two twins, no, not those twins), which measures in at 33 sqm. I was offered an upgrade during online check-in to a 50 sqm Premium room for about S$80, but figured I didn’t need the space as like a ghost, I had no body to share it with.
Rooms are fairly standard Hyatt stuff, though cosy enough with an earthly colour palette. A small seating area was available next to the windows with electrically-controlled blinds, and work could be done at the table below the television.
Bedside tables lacked built-in USB charging, but such capability had been retrofitted via a simple plug beneath the counter top. Fortunately, unlike some older hotels, master switches can be found at each bedside for easy control of the room’s lighting. This means that if you hear something go bump in the night, it won’t be your knee against the bedframe.
The work desk area had two universal power outlets, a USB charging port and a HDMI connector to the TV. Don’t forget that it needs to be powered on (see the button on the extreme left), and once done, you can use the TV as a second screen.
Wi-Fi speeds were a zippy 41 Mbps down and 45 Mbps up, perfect for a Ghostbusters marathon (repeat after me: the last Ghostbusters movie was released in 1989, and no movies have been released since then).
The mini-bar was empty, allowing for storage of personal items. I gasped when I saw a horribly-disfigured apparition with a distended belly in my photo, before realising it was a reflective surface.
I checked the wardrobe and there were no monsters inside, nor Tom Cruise. Only a bathrobe, ironing kit and digital safe.
The bathroom was clad in grey marble with a large circular backlit vanity mirror, ample counter-top space, TOTO bidet and a shower cubicle complete with oversized rain shower head. Water pressure was excellent, there was even a bench to sit on while scrubbing your feet.
The lack of a bathtub was disappointing, however, because without it how could I drown my unwanted prematurely-born infant by way of a jilted ex-lover?
Balmain Paris amenities were provided in single-use containers. Hyatt announced back in 2019 that they’d eliminate single-use items by June 2021, but that doesn’t seem to have filtered to East Asia yet.
The Grand Hyatt Taipei’s fitness centre is open 24 hours daily, and boasts an impressive range of equipment plus onsite trainers. Guests can also make use of the sauna, steam room and a hot/cold whirlpool, but be advised: they’re strictly clothing-free, and all the haunted houses in the world have nothing on middle-aged dangly bits.
The outdoor swimming pool is located on the 5th floor, and open from 5.30 a.m to 9.30 p.m daily. I read online that the water was heated, though it was more lukewarm when I visited (it doesn’t help that it’s shaded for most of the day). Besides, the area is rather exposed, which means strong gusts of wind are not uncommon. After all, that’s the only logical explanation for how my personal effects were suddenly dragged into the pool by an unseen force.
A few lounge chairs and cabanas are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Unfortunately, I had to leave the hotel at 6 a.m the following morning to catch my STARLUX flight back home (and not because a phantasm of my old drill sergeant appeared asking rhetorically whether I would like to “sleep some more”). This means I couldn’t try out the breakfast spread, which I hear is rather impressive.
I’m not a World of Hyatt loyalist, but even so I’d have no hesitation to return to this hotel, thanks to its excellent location and wide range of facilities. I mean, I even came back to my room at night to find all my laundry neatly folded and placed in my bag, plus a souvenir doll on the bed, which I can only chalk up to excellent housekeeping.
That said, they did miss cleaning the beet juice oozing from the walls.