Though it was originally built as a retreat house for friars of the Dominican Order, much of this dilapidated building’s history has been anything but peaceful.
The Dominican Hill Retreat House was built in 1913 atop a hill in the famed Philippine City of Pines. With the outbreak of World War II, it became a camp for refugees escaping the Japanese army, but was eventually invaded. The Japanese secret police, the Kempeitai, committed terrible acts of brutality, massacring, raping, and torturing many of the inhabitants, and even decapitating nuns and priests.
In the 1970s, the wartorn building was converted to the sophisticated and beautiful Diplomat Hotel, but the hotel was shut down by the ’80s, and left abandoned. The deserted, deteriorating building became infamous for being one of the most haunted ruins in the country. Various folklore and ghost stories surround its gray and washed-out red walls. Many people saw headless apparitions at night, and reported hearing screams, cries, banging on doors, and other strange and desperate noises. Some believe the building is haunted by the restless spirits of its grim history.
The supposedly haunted ruin attracted an influx of visitors, and the old hotel is now under rehabilitation by the national government as a Heritage and Nature Park. The hotel has two floors and an accessible roof deck with a panoramic view of the city, and its west wing has been cleaned and remodeled as an event space. It’s now a place to experience both beauty and eeriness in Baguio City’s cold climate.