newsletter  /  october '08

This Issue:

There are spirits in my mini-bar! Haunted Hotels From Around the World

Boo!! 'Tis the season once more, when everything scary, silly and strange becomes really cool (and we're not talking about the American presidential election). Happy Halloween everyone!! October 31 is fast approaching and the gross and ghoulish will be out and about, looking for candy and trying to scare the bejeezes out of you. Seeing it's about that time, to relate tales from the crypt, who are we to not pander to the masses and give our very own chilling list of haunted hotels from around the world.

During our extensive research we were surprised to find that Europe and North America seem to have an inordinate amount of spirits who just don't want to leave their former residences (though we're thinking with the recent economic downturn, many may change their minds and finally move on). Even so, there are places to stay around the world where spooks and specters float in the night. And some of these are even available on our site for you to stay, if you dare... Here is our top 13!

The Nottingham Road Hotel (South Africa)

What's the best way to keep good staff? Don't let them leave. This hotel in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa has a barmaid who apparently decided the tips were just too good. The barmaid's spirit has been known to move pots around the pub, open beer taps, ring a service bell (which was supposedly no longer in working order) and has even been attributed to deflating tires of certain guests. They were poor tippers of course.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (USA)

There are so many haunted hotels in the United States, it was tough to pick just a few. We picked this one because it's just so cool. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, California is supposedly home to the ghosts or Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift. Marilyn is said to haunt a full length mirror that was once in a room she was known to frequent. Guests have reported catching glimpses of the blonde bombshell in the mirror as they pass. Clift stayed in room 928 while filming From Here to Eternity and guests have reported being able to hear him pacing and rehearsing his lines.

Buma Inn (China)

The Chinese take their spirits seriously, and this one at the Buma Inn in Beijing seriously wants revenge. Apparently a guest at the Inn was poisoned by the chef and subsequently died. The chef was so upset about it, that he then killed himself afterwards. The murdered guest is said to be seen roaming the halls forever in search of the chef, looking to inflict his revenge.

Breakfast Creek Inn (Australia)

According to the Brisbane Visitor's Guide this Brisbane hotel is apparently known to almost the entire population of Australia. If that wasn't weird enough, it's apparently haunted as well. It was built in 1889 by William Galloway, the former Lord Mayor of Brisbane. One night, apparently drunk, he fell from a second floor window to his death in 1895. Having undergone many renovations since then, his ghost is said to have been seen and heard wandering the older, original portions of the hotel.

Toftaholm Herrgard (Sweden)

Once home to a baron this hotel in Toftaholm, Sweden is haunted by a young boy. The boy, a commoner, fell in love with the baron's daughter. The baron disapproved and arranged for his daughter to be married to someone else. On the day of the wedding, the boy hung himself in the rafters. His spirit is said to haunt room 324 where the rafters once were.

Genting Highlands Resort (Malaysia)

Located just north of Kuala Lumpur, this popular resort and casino has apparently seen its fair share of suicides by those distraught after incurring gambling debts at the tables. Various visitors have related stories of seeing a man jump from the top of the hotel only to vanish before hitting the ground. It's also said there are rooms in the hotel that are not available to stay in no matter what the occupancy level of the hotel because of the strong presence of otherworldly spirits.

Ballygally Castle Hotel (Ireland)

It's a castle, therefore it must be haunted. The Ballygally Castle Hotel is haunted by Lady Isabella Shaw, who was imprisoned here in the 17th century for the horrible crime of giving birth to a daughter instead of a boy. So distraught, she apparently jumped to her death clutching her daughter. Her ghost is said to be heard wandering the halls, knocking on doors…while holding her crying baby. Creeeeepy.

Dragsholm Slot - Hotel (Denmark)

Another castle (go figure), this one located in Sealand, Denmark is home to three ghosts; the Gray Lady, White Lady and the Earl of Bothwell. The Gray Lady is apparently a maiden who was so devoted to the castle she returns nightly to check on the grounds. The Earl of Brothwell was captured here in the 1500's and imprisoned in the cellar where he subsequently went mad and died, now forever to wander the halls. The White Lady is a daughter of one of the former owners who fell in love with a commoner. Her father found out about the illicit affair and imprisoned her in the castle. During renovations in the 1930’s a skeleton in a white dress was found behind one of the walls lending credence to the tale.

The Stanley Hotel (USA)

We like creepy movies, and Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" is as creepy as they come. Based on the Stephen King novel, King himself based the Overlook Hotel in his book on The Stanley Hotel in Park Estes, Colorado. The Stanley is said to be haunted by its original owner F.O. Stanley and his wife Flora. Stanley's ghost has been seen wandering the lobby, bar and Billiard Room while Flora continues to play the piano in the Music Room. Guests have reportedly heard music coming from the room. When they open the door the keys are seen moving on the piano as well, but as soon as they go closer to investigate, the music stops.

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel (Canada)

Set in picturesque Banff, Alberta the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is said to be haunted by a ghost bride. Legend has it that a bride was walking down the grand staircase to the lobby for her wedding reception. The "train" on her gown apparently brushed against one of the numerous candles used to light the lobby and caught fire. In her panic, she apparently tripped and fell down the stairs, breaking her neck. Her ghost has been seen wandering the halls still in her dress. Just more proof that eloping is the best choice.

The Savoy Hotel (India)

Famous as the inspiration of Agatha Christie's first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the Savoy Hotel in Mussoorie, India is apparently haunted by its former owner, Lady Orme. Murdered by sipping on some strychnine mysteriously placed in her medicine bottle, Ms. Orme's murderer was never found. Her ghost has reportedly been seen aimlessly walking the halls of her old hotel.

The Savoy Hotel (India)

Famous as the inspiration for Agatha Christie's first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the Savoy Hotel in Mussoorie, India is apparently haunted by its former owner, Lady Orme. Murdered by sipping on some strychnine mysteriously placed in her medicine bottle, Ms. Orme's murderer was never found. Her ghost has reportedly been seen aimlessly walking the halls of her old hotel.

The Langham Hilton Hotel (England)

An iconic hotel in the middle of London, the Langham is reputedly one of the most haunted hotels in the world, with as many as 7 different ghosts seen from time to time. Some of the ghosts are dressed in Victorian clothing, one of the ghosts is said to be that of a German soldier, another is said to be the ghost of doctor who murdered his wife and then killed himself, and the Emperor Louis Napolean III is said to haunt the basement. Room 333 is supposed to be the most haunted of all, in which a BBC reporter watched a specter appear from a floating, glowing ball, right in front of his eyes.

The Queen Mary (USA)

It's a boat, a hotel and it's haunted. How cool is that! The former luxury liner was bigger and faster than the Titanic in her day and was used to transport troops in World War II. Now permanently docked in Long Beach, California and converted to a floating hotel, the Queen Mary is reportedly home to various different ghosts. The boat has been the site of 49 deaths, so there could be a few ghosts to choose from. There is the sailor crushed behind Door 13 of the engine room, now seen roaming the halls only to disappear behind the very same door that killed him, there are the women in 30's style bathing suits seen sitting around the first class pool (though the pool has been closed for decades) and there's the little girl who drowned in the second class poolroom, often seen (and heard) in the area while clutching a teddy bear. There is apparently more, but we're just too freaked out to continue talking about it.

Lucky, Lucky Chicken Bone! Superstitions from around the World

Continuing with the entire "Hallowed Eve" theme and the inevitable focus on bad luck cast by onyx hued felines, we got to thinking; "where exactly do these superstitions come from?" Considering superstitions are defined as beliefs not based on any reason or knowledge, isn't it surprising (and less than reassuring) how many international airlines do not have a row 13 on their planes? All across the globe, parents and grandparents of various cultures and creed, pass on irrational traditions and beliefs with no proof these actions will change the course of our lives. Yet how many people avoid walking under that ladder? How many hotels in the world are missing a thirteenth floor? And just how many souls are saved by saying "bless you" after someone sneezes?

Numbers have long held mystical meanings for many cultures throughout the world. The number 13 has always been considered unlucky and the irrational fear of it is called triskaidekaphobia. Some attribute this superstition to the Last Supper when Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th person to sit at the table. It appears this belief may date even farther back, as evidenced by the number 13 being omitted from an ancient Babylonian law code, the Code of Hammurabi (1760 BC). A similar superstition exists in Asia regarding the number four, because the pronunciation is phonetically similar to the word "death" in Korean, Chinese and Japanese. As a result, buildings in these Asian countries generally won't have a fourth floor. On the other hand, the number nine is considered lucky in Thailand because it shares the same pronunciation as the word "step". Stepping forward is an indication that good luck is approaching. In China it's the number eight that is considered auspicious because it sounds similar to the word for "wealth."

Knocking on wood is another common worldwide superstition. The expressions "knock on wood" and "touch wood" are used to ensure a good thing continues (and at the same time preventing the opposite from happening) after it has been verbally expressed. An example would be; "My baby sleeps through the night, knock on wood." People will follow up the expression by touching or knocking on a piece of wood. The superstition stems from either the thought that luck is granted by knocking on a wooden cross or from the belief that some spirits live in trees. Also common, are superstitions associated with black cats. Considered unlucky in many parts of the world for an alleged association with witchcraft, a black cat crossing your path is considered a bad omen. Even in countries with no association to witchcraft at all, such as Romania and India, the black cat is considered a harbinger of bad things to come. However in England, Ireland and Scotland the opposite belief is held, where black cats are held in high regard and considered to be quite lucky.

Another common belief in many countries, though perhaps not as widely known, is the concept of the evil eye. The evil eye is a look of envy or malice which can put a curse on the person who is being looked at. In India brides and babies often carry a dot of kohl (makeup) behind their ears or on the bottom of their feet to prevent any harm cast from the many eyes focused on them. In Greece the concept of the evil eye dates back more than 2,000 years and can only be cast away by a prayer said by an older relative of the opposite sex. Those of Jewish faith believe fish are immune to the evil eye and in Islam every compliment paid is followed by "Masha'Allah," meaning "whatever God wills," to ward off the evil eye.

Though many superstitions are shared the world over, some are very specific to the country or region where they originated. In India it is considered good luck on a journey if an elephant is spotted. Having to do with Lord Ganesh, the elephant god is known as the remover of all obstacles. The Chinese consider it bad luck to say that a baby is cute as this can tempt ghosts into carrying the child away. In Thailand and Myanmar it is considered unlucky to keep cracked or broken mirrors or drinking glasses in the home. A broken, chipped or cracked glass is thrown out immediately. The number of superstitions in Thai culture are endless, but amusing ones include the ritual of biting new shoes-yes, with the teeth in your mouth-so they do not "bite" your feet, and the belief that if you bend over and look through your legs, you will see a ghost. Though we're not entirely certain what would make you do this in the first place, it does seem like a good thing to know.

Double your fun with a Double Points offer from Agoda Rewards!

All bookings at hotels with a Double Points offer will earn you twice the points you would normally earn. For example, if you book a hotel worth US$100 you would usually earn 2,500 points - or US$5 - but with the Double Points offer, you get double the rebate…worth 5,000 points (US$10)!

How do I know how many points I will earn for a Double Points booking?

For regular bookings, Premier members earn 25 points per dollar spent and Elite members earn 31.25 points. If you make a reservation worth US$1,000 on a Double Points hotel and the full amount is charged to your credit card, Premier members will receive 50,000 points on the transaction (rather than just 25,000 points). Elite members will earn 62,500 points (rather than 31,250 points).

How do I know which hotels offer double points?

All hotels with a Double Points offer are posted at - these offers are updated monthly. Also, any hotel included in this promotion will have a Double Points promotion note on the hotel page.

For more information on Agoda Rewards, please visit

TRAVEL TIP : Jet Lag - Circadian Rhythms Are Not Dancing Locusts!

That's circadian, not cicadas. Circadian rhythms are basically the daily cycle everyone goes through. Wikipedia calls them; "a roughly-24-hour cycle in the biochemical, physiological or behavioural processes of living beings". These tend to get all out of whack when jet lag kicks in and makes you fall asleep on your keyboard at work, the day after returning from that trip of a life time. Anyone whose experienced jet lag knows what a drag it can be. Though variable between individuals, the general recovery period for jet lag is supposed to be one day for each time-zone crossed during the flight. Lots of home remedies are out there, but none are deemed truly effective. However, there are some things you can do to minimize the effects:

1. Go along with the local meal and bedtime schedules to get into a new daily routine.
2. Avoid over-eating, eat small meals more often and include lots of fruits and vegetables.
3. Get enough sleep before you leave..
4. Exercise as much as you can both while on vacation and when you get back.
5. If you do use, don't overuse sleep medications. 2 days usage max.
6. Avoid excessive drinking (we realize that this last one may be tough...but try.)

These won't stop jet lag, but they might help you recover a little quicker and prevent you from being face down, snoring at your desk upon your return.

Review of the month: Lebua at State Tower Hotel

Created by David McMahon

From the moment we arrived we were made to feel special. Smiling, friendly yet professional staff took care of our check-in and showed us to our suite. An upgrade to the Executive 2-bedroom suite made us feel even more special! Fantastic views from the two balconies, but we were more interested in the superbly-equipped kitchenette, the immense settee, the broadband Internet access, the Bvlgari bathroom accessories, the BTS day pass, the wonderful breakfast buffet that went on until 1130 (very civilised!). How could you possibly fault it?

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