The words in the elevator are simple, clean—crafted in a sans serif font, unassuming, yet somehow bold in a way I hadn’t expected from this boutique hotel next to Da’an Park in downtown Taipei. “Name is Dandy,” the sign says, confidently, cleanly, and boldly, its foggy mirror-like letters reflecting off the sleek mirrored walls. No pesky article, no superfluous three-letter word in front of it, no weak introduction distracting from the important part of the message. Since I’d just passed the so-titled “Escape Sling” in my 9th floor hallway—which was a sign pointing to a door that I assume led nowhere but outside—I realized how grateful I was to see this small reminder. Fortunately, if I’d had any doubt I’d checked in to the wrong hotel, the Dandy wanted to make sure I knew I was in the right place. Having just woken up after taking a 14 ½ hour flight, this was relief indeed.
This is the Dandy’s personality—small reminders. Not gentle reminders, but once-in-a-while gallant ones. Nothing too flashy, mind you; nothing too outrageous. The hotel is confident enough not to feel the need to doll itself up to travelers: its unobtrusive exterior, coupled with its sparse, modern interior, (translating to Lonely Planet’s writers as having “a cool jazz vibe”) is just as unassuming as its self-titled reminder in the elevator. From the street, the Dandy looks like a steep grey apartment building or industrial high-rise—there’s not much to it, and if you’re not looking for it, you might actually miss the entire building. The sign is a bit tilted and is covered in power lines; the entrance isn’t on the main street but rather on a side alley. But once you find your way inside, you’re in what the Dandy Hotel claims is similar to “rediscovering your tempo.”
While I’m not sure if my tempo necessarily needed rediscovering, I certainly felt a heightened sense of serenity once I stepped into the lobby. Inside the reception, which is sleek, modern, and sparsely-colored in beiges and whites, delicately-crafted paper birds in pastel hues hang from the ceiling. There’s a fancy slim-line LCD television playing the news next to a feng shui-inspired garden room. There are odd and unusual abstract cut-outs suggesting life-size animals like deer and moose scattered in strategic corners of the rooms, which soften the edges of the room and offer a feeling of being in nature (despite the obvious fact that everyone knows the animals are cut-outs). My first impression was immensely positive: this was an artistic oasis from the organized chaos that characterizes Taipei’s streets outside. Name is Dandy did not disappoint.
The Dandy Hotel has 73 rooms in 6 layouts, depending on how much you’re willing to spend and the kind of amenities you require. All rooms have, at minimum, a 32” flat screen television with cable, free broadband Wifi, a mini-refrigerator, ample closet space, a safe to protect anything valuable, a roomy shower room, and a plush twin bed with fluffy pillows and a fabulously soft goose-down comforter. Really—bedding is important to me, especially after a 14 ½ hour flight. The Dandy does their beds right.
In terms of pricing, if you’re perfectly content without a window, you can find one of their Economical rooms for NTD 2,340 (that’s $78 USD) during the weekdays and for NTD 2,520 (that’d be $84 USD) on the weekends. The rooms we booked, which were called the Elite rooms, were about ten dollars more than this. For those wishing to splurge, you can rent the entire Dandy VIP Suite for a little over NTD 4,000 per night (yes, that’s only $133 USD). The better the room, too, the better the view (my view was a motorcycle parking lot and a dilapidated old building with a funky little restaurant underneath it). Also, don’t let the small square rooms turn you off, either. You’ll soon find that everything in Taiwan is tiny, except for their hot pots, which are gigantic.
The buffet-style breakfast, which is touted as being Western-style, is a real temptation for gluttony. The breakfast is laid out on a long table, and everything is prepared hot in stainless-steel woks and pots. Perhaps because it was my first morning in Taipei and everything looked novel and exciting, I ate like I’d never eaten before: filling my plate with seafood stir fry with udon noodles, pig sausage, shrimp and pork dumplings, boiled gyoza with soy sauce, French fries, and freshly cut fruit, I had a breakfast that at home would have probably been a breakfast, a lunch, and a dinner combined (and maybe even breakfast the next day, too). Already in love with Taiwanese cooking, I completed my feast with a soy latte from the latte-machine. Taiwanese soymilk, after all, is supposedly some of the best in all of Asia, and while I’m not really able to test this claim, this place would definitely have my vote.
The staff, too, is remarkably patient with foreigners. While they don’t speak much English, every one of the concierge members, staff, and receptionists were incredibly friendly and were always willing to point, emphasize, repeat, and circle places on maps for me. They explained the billing very clearly, offered to carry my suitcase to the taxi when I needed help, and smiled at us each time we entered and left the hotel. In our two days there, I had already grown quite fond of the Dandy Hotel, a place that warns you on its website that because their hotel is so relaxing and nature-inspired that “at any moment, a truly creative idea may enter your mind.” My creative idea, which entered my mind as we pulled our suitcases into the back of a taxi, getting ready to take the high speed rail to our next Taiwanese destination, was this: I could totally live in this city. And someday, I just might.
The Dandy Hotel is across the street from lush Da’an Park and only a ten-minute bus ride to the famous Shilin Night Market, the Longshan Buddhist Temple, Taipei 101, and the Taipei World Trade Center. If you need a taxi to help you get around, the reception will happily call one for you, and a driver will arrive at the door in no more than a few minutes.
Check out their website to find current rates and available rooms.
Or book online at Priceline.