Because we were all free, and the opportunity came up to jet out of HK on Western and Chinese Valentine’s Day (ie. Lantern Festival) weekend, me and my friends went to Taipei for a last minute getaway trip care-of my pal, DJ Angus Wong’s, hospitality friends and family discount at the amazing W Taipei.
In total it was a 48 hour trip. We departed Friday night via Cathay Pacific and jumped on a plane to Taipei where we were immediately picked up by the W Hotel limo and whisked to the W Taipei less than an hour away from the airport for hotel check in… and then party immediately after. That first evening, Angus was hosting W Taipei’s 3rd Year Anniversary bash with W Singapore’s Mr. Has. When the W has these parties, they tend to fly in the big music guys from other W’s in the region. I’m a big fan of both Mr. Has and Angus so it was definitely a great way to start the evening and the weekend.
In terms of quality of design and quality of fit out, the W Taipei is a great urban hotel, that’s tasteful and cosy, doing great service to the W “lifestyle” which is pretty much party party party. I loved the public spaces, the heated pool, as well as the top floor bar/restaurant, Yen, with amazing views of the city.
The rooms are comfortable, and well layed out. All internal doors and walls can be hidden in the pocket, so the whole space can feel more open and more free. There’s a great spatial flow. If you make a reservation here, make sure to ask for a room with a window that faces the Taipei 101. It makes for a more dramatic effect.
The great thing about W Taipei is that the hotel is located right in the middle of an ever modernising CBD (Central Business District).
Right next door is the humongous Eslite Bookstore, the 24-hour bookstore with cool cafes and several design stores and independent fashion located within.
Also down the street from W and Eslite is the Taipei 101 Tower and mall where you can go up to check out all of Taipei from the top of the city. There aren’t too many skyscrapers in in Taipei so you can pretty much see everything around the tower 360 degrees.
But if you’re wanting your agenda away from malls as much as possible, then you can forego lux shopping for Taipei’s indie designer boutique lanes instead off Dunhua South Road.
My pals loved the Frapbois Shop… a teeny bopper destination shop which sold all things quirky from Frapbois, CdG, and Kenzo, to a name a few brands.
I loved this curated wasteland shop, called Artifacts… which is basically their version of Kapok or Colette, except less French.
You can drink Faro beer while you shop.
And check out the cool clientele.
It’s Taipei, so luxury indie goods are not cheap. That said I wasn’t really in a buying mood myself, so I settled for one of these key chains… guess which one I got?
There were some stores which sold awkward merchandise…
Like what’s that all about?
Of course, we also had to go to the original Din Tai Fung in Xinyi for some Xiao Long Bao. I’m not kidding… it’s certainly the best, and for some reason, tastes way different than the Hong Kong DTFs… much lighter and tastes more fresh.
We went on some random time… like 4pm, so the wait for a table was only about 15 minutes, compared to the 2 hours it takes to get a table during peak hours.
When in Taipei, make sure to have a sip of TenRen’s Tea, the best fresh hot and cold tea in the city. Lucky us in Hong Kong, we’ve got a location in Sheung Wan and another one in Causeway Bay’s Eslite location now. So refreshing.
If you want to walk off your Din Tai Fung, this TenRen’s location also on Xinyi Road, is your best bet. Also listed by Frommer’s as the location to go to.
A brisk walk down Xinyi Road and subsequently, Yongkang Street, will let you discover very cool old antique galleries, junk shops, and japanese cafes worth exploring with your camera.
There’s this random community oriented shop that sells its space to a different business owner everyday. The owner can sell their products AND hold interactive workshops about it.
I got so excited checking out their product of the day… some bamboo type contraption that you heat up on hot coal and hit your knees with… that i completely forgot to get the name of the shop. Nonetheless, if you just walk down on Xinyi Road, you can’t miss it. They even asked to take a photos of us, and were super excited to do so as well. Taiwanese people are all so super friendly.
Other cool things to see, a really amazing junks shop complex in a community space on 60 Yongkang Street. Really interesting selection of stores, each with their own unique offerings.
And if you’re lucky… you can meet this man who plays a mean two-string violin.