When you win a free four-day trip to Taiwan, leaving immediately — as in “Go to the airport, right now” immediately — you don’t have time to care about where you’re going to stay.
So after attending a recent Taiwan Tourism Bureau event, where I was one of six winners of a trip for two to Taipei departing that same night, I was pleased to land at the comfortable Westgate Hotel in Taipei’s Ximending district.
Here’s the scoop:
The contemporary Westgate Hotel, decorated with some unusual artwork like these flying Buddha-like statues, is located less than half a block from the Ximending metro station, part of Taipei’s efficient and wide-ranging MRT system that can take you around the city. A seemingly endless parade of buses traveled the streets in front of the hotel, which we also took as we went exploring. We found the public transit system easy to navigate with signage in both Mandarin and English.
Surrounding the hotel, the Ximending district is a young people’s hangout, with a multi-story karaoke palace across the street, storefronts selling clothing and various gadgets, and lots of inexpensive noodle shops and snack stalls lining the narrow lands and pedestrian passages.
Hotel Facilities and Services
The hotel’s front desk and concierge staff all spoke good English and couldn’t have been more helpful, offering umbrellas on rainy days, providing directions, and assisting with transportation questions. Since we’d had no time to plan our trip, we especially appreciated the staff’s assistance.
On the second level, the Westgate has a small fitness room, as well as a business center.
My favorite part of our stay at the Westgate Hotel was breakfast, an ample morning buffet that’s included in the room rates. The buffet featured both western and Chinese options, from eggs and ham, yogurt, and fresh fruit, to steamed buns, congee, and a fascinating assortment of pickles and fermented vegetables.
On such a short, spur-of-the-moment trip, everyone in our group was battling at least some jet lag, so we made frequent trips to the self-service espresso and cappuccino machine in the breakfast room. Tea, juices, and warm soy milk were available at breakfast as well.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
Furnished with white linens and walnut-toned wood, the 121 small, modern guest rooms all have air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, safes, and free Wi-Fi, which worked well. The beds were firm and comfortable, particularly after our 12-hour trans-Pacific flight.
Guest rooms come in several general styles. The entry-level units, dubbed “Cozy” rooms, measure 280 square feet (26 square meters), so they live up to their name. Their main drawback is that they’re interior rooms without windows.
The room where my husband Alan and I stayed, a “Premier” unit also measuring 280 square feet, had twin beds that were almost touching; the Premier units come in king bed options, too. We had a window, although it faced a nearby building, providing light but no view.
In the room’s entry was a vanity counter with a sink, towel racks, and a bit of storage space. The shower and toilet were in separate cubicles next to the sink.
Double room rates at the Westgate Hotel start at about US$90-100/night, including breakfast — a good deal for this well-located modern hotel, where we unexpectedly landed for a three-day spur-of-the-moment Taipei stay. You can make a reservation at the Westgate Hotel website or compare rates and book through a site such as Hotels.com or Expedia.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. The Taiwan Tourism Bureau hosted our stay at the Westgate Hotel as part of their “Taiwan Now Boarding” promotion.