Taipei Accommodation & Cuisine
Taiwan’s oldest five-star hotel has been around for half a century, but thanks to recent renovations and an unswerving focus on friendly service it’s stayed at the top of its game. Families coming during the warmer months may want a room beside the Ambassador’s outdoor swimming pool.
With just 48 rooms and a side-street location, this is an excellent little retreat for those who dislike crowded lobbies, and who prefer attentive service with a genuine smile to the ultra-efficient but sometimes soulless processing occasionally experienced in larger establishments.
Grand Hyatt Taipei
Best known for and often chosen by business travellers because it’s right beside Taipei World Trade Centre, the Grand Hyatt’s location is also a godsend for those who wish to be near Taipei 101 and the capital’s best shopping. Renovations ahead of 2015’s silver anniversary are another reason why top-end leisure visitors are making increasing use of this hotel.
Palais de Chine Taipei
Located a stone’s throw from Taipei’s bus, railway and bullet-train stations, Palais de Chine Taipei is ideal for those who want metropolitan comforts while making excursions into the capital’s hinterland. The hotel boasts every feature experienced travellers will expect of a purpose-built five-star hotel, including an Executive Lounge which may just be Taiwan’s cosiest.
Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Taipei
Refitted rooms and top-notch service ensure this landmark, a favourite with business visitors, is a strong challenger for pole position. To make the most of the building’s 43 floors, consider staying in the Horizon Club, and relaxing in the hotel’s rooftop pool.
The Regent Taipei
The only hotel in Taiwan to appear on Conde Nast Traveller’s Gold List of ‘World’s Best Places to Stay’ for two consecutive years, The Regent Taipei is sited within striking distance of every part of the capital, not to mention outlying attractions like Danshui. The attached mall is highly rated by shopping addicts, so guests wanting gifts for folks back home needn’t go out of their way.
Eating Out in Taipei
The range of cuisines visitors to Taipei can enjoy reflects the tides of local history, and thus is vast. In addition to restaurants which serve superb fresh and light Taiwanese food such as the Shin Yeh chain, there are gourmet eateries where the menu has been strongly influenced by mainland Chinese cooking styles. Almost all of those in the latter category were established after World War II by refugees who followed Chiang Kai-shek to the city. Dumpling-fan heaven Ding Tai Fung is one; Peng Yuan, which has built its reputation on sweet-and-sour deep-fried Hunan dishes, is another.
For many tourists, night markets are one of Taipei’s main attractions. Shilin Night Market is the best known and busiest, but for those staying on the other side of the city, Raohe Night Market is every bit as good. Night markets and street vendors are excellent places to try traditional snacks such as hamburger-like guabao (Chinese steamed bread filled with pork belly and pickles) and choudoufu (stinky tofu).
The fifty years Japan ruled Taiwan had a lasting impact on kitchens and palates, and high-end sashimi is served in many places including Yun Sushi and Yuzu Japanese Kitchen. Located inside Taipei’s main seafood market, Addiction Aquatic Development combines a standing-only sushi bar, an oyster bar and a wine bar. The food is exceptional.
Because of Buddhist influence, vegetarian food has always had a place on Taipei’s dinner tables. These days, meat-free needn’t mean self-denial, as a feast at Yu Shan Ge can prove. Because some of the Chinese Nationalists who arrived in Taiwan after 1949 were Muslim, the capital has a smattering of halal eating places, including Yunus Halal Restaurant.
Western businessmen have been coming to Taipei for decades, so it’s no surprise the city has a complete range of North American and European cuisines, with everything from poutine to chimichangas to jagerschnitzel. In recent years, Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants have added even more diversity to the capital’s dining scene.