Cool places to lay your head in Taiwan [classic article]

The island of Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China (ROC), has a great variety of overnight accommodations to satisfy any kind of whim, from remote and quaint to sophisticated and upscale. There are several in exotic locales and some have acclaimed in-house dining. There are even accommodations with different ethnic flairs. Instead of just considering a generic place to spend the night, why not have your hotel be truly part of the Taiwan experience?

Silks Place – Yilan: Yilan is a major city in Taiwan and the first hotel in the Taiwanese luxury chain reflects the sophistication and quiet luxury of modern Asia. It sits in Luna Plaza, where there is a large shopping center with Taiwanese clothing boutiques carrying unusual – sometimes, charmingly odd – t-shirts, jackets and jeans.


Amazing views from Silks Place - Yilan

Amazing views from Silks Place – Yilan

Room décor colors are light, soothing neutrals, extending to porches with stunning views of the mountains. The on-property spa is open late night hours and even ablutions in your room benefit from a walk-in shower, tub with view of the room, and L’Occitane toiletries. In the morning, the breakfast buffet has a mix of Asian and Western specialties, including tropical fruit smoothies, smoked duck, pate’ and cereals. The breakfast room has a floor to ceiling window looking out onto the mountains.

Within walking distance of the hotel is Link, a restaurant with many local Michelin awards under its belt. They use the best of Taiwan’s fish, fruit and exotic vegetables, along with other special creations, and lift them into futuristic, philosophical artistry.

The Regent Taipei is where VIPs stay while in Taiwan. The hotel has in its basement and on its block some of the most luxurious stores in the world, including Mikimoto, Harry Winston, Hermes and Roberto Cavalli. One can get hairstyling by the pros at Alexandre de Paris, just like Jacqueline Onassis did. The hotel offers guests little pineapple cakes favored by the Chinese emperors, which have a smoky, bacon-like flavor with a touch of jam. Birds nest tarts are also available: they’re creamy like old fashioned egg pudding in a tart. The décor is modern with neutral tones and clean lines. The in-house spa, Wellspring, has a line of toiletries that are also found in the rooms. Guests can select from a pillow menu which includes down and buckwheat pillows.

In the morning, the cornucopia of food on the breakfast buffet is amazing. The focus is on pan-Asian delicacies like hot Taiwanese noodles, spicy Indonesian condiments, congee and steamed fish. However, they also have a full complement of Western breakfast foods, including German sausages and Danish cheeses.

Full House Resort , located on the romantic Sun Moon Lake, is an intimate bed and breakfast built of American timber, for a real cabin in the woods feel. It is decorated with the stylized paintings of one of the owners and downstairs is an intimate full restaurant featuring the aboriginal food of the Shao tribe. Have fun with the traditional Japanese style of table cooking – shabu shabu – with the freshest oysters, scallops and thin, fatty pork. There is outdoor seating, too.

The artsy eclecticism of Taiwan's Full House Resort

The artsy eclecticism of Taiwan’s Full House Resort

Hotel del Lago offers another take on Sun Moon Lake, with a traditional hotel ambiance and glamorous marina and deck porches with either city or lake views. Their restaurant focuses on very traditional pan-Asian cuisine, like salty duck eggs and the freshest exotic fruits.

When traveling far away from home, it is comforting to stay at a hotel for which service equals quiet precision. At the Splendor Hotel Kaohsiung, sure, it’s fun that it’s a high-rise and some rooms are 70 stories off the terrace. What’s more fun, in its own way, is the ease with which currency can be changed, check-in is accomplished, and drinks ordered at the elegant hotel lounge. Their business center is so comfy, it’s really like having access to a private city club. There is a shopping center downstairs.

In the morning, the buffet is tightly edited with nice offerings. For a different, delicately mild breakfast, try the made-to-order fresh noodle soup with sprouts and a bit of bok choy.

Silks Hotel Taroko is the only 5-star hotel located within the Taroko National Park. It is a stunning building, housing rooms with a traditional Japanese aesthetic. From the kimonos as well as Western robes in the rooms, Japanese soaking tubs, perfect feng shui arrangements of fruits, and fragrant candles lit for turndown service, you know you’re in for serious pampering. Aborigine singer-songwriters perform at the rooftop pool/hot tubs with different temperatures at night, for an exotic yet family-friendly evening.

In the daytime, the Taroko Gorge National Park offers amazing views of a 19-km canyon and all levels of hiking.

For a different sample of the Taroko area, check out the Leader Village Taroko, amidst the Taroko aborigine tribe. Simple, modestly priced aborigine-style cabins are grouped in a traditional village arrangement with Tang Dynasty touches in the décor. If you’re lucky, you’ll see wild monkeys on the walking path. The restaurant serves the freshest local and wild meats and vegetables in aboriginal recipes.

The Far Eastern Plaza Hotel in Taipei has a premiere view of Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world. The luxe amenities include a rooftop pool and hot tub overlooking the city. Their Marco Polo Lounge is a sophisticated place to get cocktails made from local tropical fruits. “Far Eastern” is a fun neighborhood with lots of chic clothing boutiques, bookstores and cafés.

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