One of the advantages of living in another country is the opportunity to experience favorite spots over and over again. When I lived in Taiwan, three hotels became the go-to spots when I wanted to dip into luxury. They are Hotel Royal Hsinchu, Westin Taipei and The Grand Hotel.
Hotel Royal Hsinchu– When I lived in Hsinchu, Taiwan, an hour south of Taipei, I was fortunate to live within walking distance of the Hotel Royal Hsinchu.Gleaming marble, lush arrangements of fresh cut flowers in the lobby, a dining room of smooth service and sumptuous meals were a welcome reprieve from the noise and bustle of the streets outside. We headed here often for an oasis of calmness—sometimes to swim in the pool or for a celebratory dinner at the hotel’s Ming Court restaurant.
We also belonged to the fitness center where we attempted to stay in shape in air-conditioned comfort. The hot tub and sauna were also a draw.
All of these delights are still part of the hotel’s ambiance and offerings. For those staying overnight, rooms range from Superior Single to Deluxe Double and have what one wants for a night of comfort and convenience. Complimentary Wi-Fi, a coffee maker, refrigerator, DVD player and a safe are standard.
Because the hotel is honed in on business travelers who make repeat visits and stay for more than a few days, the friendly service is well-tuned. These days, room rates start at $141 with breakfast included, according to Hotels.com. You can also compare rates at Priceline or Agoda.
Hsinchu, located about an hour south of Taipei, is terrific hub for a day trip to Beipu, a Hakka town in the mountains outside of Hsinchu. Beipu is known for its temple– the oldest in Taiwan, incense making and its tea. The tea is a mixture of pounded grains, tea leaves and puffed rice. This is the only place you can get it.
The Westin Taipei, just minutes from the Nanjing East Road MRT in Taipei, is a perfect location for making one’s way around this sprawling city. After a day of visiting must-see attractions, the plush bedding, huge marble bathtubs, and roomy quiet rooms are meant for unwinding.
Plus, there’s plenty to make a world traveler with a hankering to be pampered very very happy. There are in-room spa services, exercise DVDs and equipment to use in your room, a workout room, a large pool, a two-lane lap pool, a Jacuzzi, a steam room AND a movie theater.
The Grand Hotel , also in Taipei, is one to visit even if you don’t stay here. We’ve visited and stayed. Of all the hotels I’ve been to in Asia, this one is my favorite. Perhaps, it’s because the Taipei Grand Hotel is a wonderful example of a blend of classic Chinese architecture and western tastes.
Magnificent doesn’t begin to describe the lobby where red and gold décor evokes thoughts of royalty and richness from the ceiling to the floor. Dragons, birds, flowers and Chinese characters are prominent design features. Each step through the hotel is surrounded by meanings connected to Chinese history, legend and tradition. For example, the plum-flower caisson design of the lobby’s ceiling represents a blessing for prosperity and luck.
My first visit involved afternoon tea in the hotel’s Grand Garden Restaurant. The fare was a satisfying mix of western and Chinese food. Steamed dumplings, finger sandwiches, tasty desserts and green tea were a part of the pleasure.
When we stayed here, we opted for an inside standard room that suited us just fine. Our room did not have a window to the outside, but to the hallway. Since we spent most of our time in our friends’ Prestige Grand Suite with French doors that opened to a balcony overlooking the expanse of Taipei, we didn’t care. About five people split the cost of this suite. We wanted our own room since our daughter was with us.
Like the hotel’s lobby, restaurants and common areas, the rooms at the Taipei Grand Hotel are a wonderful blend of Chinese and western. The comfort though, heads towards western sensibilities. This means bedding is plush and the mattress firmness is just right.
The Grand Hotel is not as convenient to an MRT stop as the Westin, but the hotel does have a free shuttle service to the MRT. Before you embark, make sure you know when you can get back.
*The first photo is of the Grand Hotel
All other photos courtesy of each hotel.
Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers Association