When I was in Taipei, I fell in love with art again—but it wasn’t in a museum. Of course, I did fulfill my armchair art enthusiast obligation in all the normal ways: I visited Taipei’s most famous museum hot spots, hung out in cafes, talked to local writers and photographers. On a particularly drizzly day, for instance, I experienced the delightfully bizarre Museum of Contemporary Art; on another, I spent an entire day wandering around the National Palace; on yet another, I talked shop with artists and writers at an expat bar in a gritty neighborhood in Taipei.
On yet another, though, I found it when I checked in to the Hotel 73.
What’s most surprising about this hotel, a rectangle-shaped high rise in the middle of downtown Taipei, is not its ultra-modern rectangular architecture or its dressed-to-impress minimalist décor. It’s not the Western-style buffet, the slick elevators, the funky track lighting in the hallways, the sleek mini-bar built effortlessly into the closets, or the shiny 32-inch flat screen TVs in every room. It’s the room itself, epitomizing the revolutionary concept that lets international travelers actually experience Taiwanese art while they’re putting on their pajamas, brushing their teeth, or making a pot of instant coffee in the morning. In short, the idea behind the Hotel 73 is to bring Taiwanese art to the traveler—not to force the traveler to find the art.
The Hotel 73, a 49-room hotel just a few blocks away from the imposing Chang Kai-Shek Memorial Museum in Taipei’s trendy downtown district, is literally a mélange of local art, culture, and creative talents from the city’s diverse artistic community. The hotel prides itself on functioning as a platform for showcasing the country’s most interesting and unusual art pieces, and each guest room is decorated entirely differently to reflect the sensibilities of the piece of art it is showcasing. My room, which was painted jet-black, featured a king-size bed made up with a white down comforter and light blue square pillows. Bare red bulb lights hung on each side of the headboard. The room felt edgy, evocative, and contemporary–definitely a room with an attitude.
The room rates, which begin at a mere $66, are entirely all-inclusive: whichever room you stay in (they offer everything from standard to elite to suite), rates include the room, all taxes, all service charges, and a warm buffet breakfast. All rooms are equipped with 32-inch flat-screen TVs, cable television, VOD, wireless internet access, a teapot and coffee maker, a hair-dryer, and a minibar. They even provide free laundry detergent in case the mood strikes you to do your laundry at the on-site facility.
Like so many hotels in Taiwan, the service is also impeccable. For instance, when housekeeping was tidying up my room and discovered that my TV wasn’t working properly, they called me on my cell phone to ask me if there was anything they could do in addition to upgrading me to a nicer room (I was perfectly elated with just the upgrade). One morning, after having called my traveling partner and finding him not in his room, the receptionist called me to find out if anything was amiss. The next day, an hour after I’d checked out of the hotel, I received a phone call from the concierge asking me if I’d like them to send me my shampoo bottle, which they found in the shower stall. From the moment we checked in until the moment we left, the receptionists at the Hotel 73 were polite, friendly, accommodating, and kind. For anyone looking for a trendy oasis in the middle of a chaotic city, this place is a place worth considering.
After all, Hotel 73 is a gallery, and each room is a canvas.
Check Priceline or the hotel’s website to book your room.
Review and photos by Kristin Mock, who was gratefully hosted in Taiwan by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.