When I think of Taiwan, a few things spring to mind. First, Taipei 101, the world’s third tallest building. Second, the hot springs, which are scattered around the island. And, of course, you can’t forget Taiwan’s amazingly rich food culture. On our recent trip, we experienced all of these essential sides of Taiwan both outside and all within the exuberant luxury of the five-star, Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei.
Honestly, we could have stayed in the hotel for our entire stay in Taipei. It’s kitted out with a rooftop swimming pool, steam room, sauna and hot spring pool. The gym is also really big and has all the equipment you can think of. If you’re short on time or just want to pamper yourself for a few days, we highly recommend a stay at Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza.
As soon as we entered our Deluxe Room, we went straight to the window to look out at Taipei’s spectacular urban landscape. In the middle of the picture, towering above its surrounds, stood Taipei 101. Much like the Empire State Building in New York City, we think it’s much more impressive to view Taipei 101 from afar. Later on, we got an even better view from the rooftop swimming pool. At 43 storeys, the Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza is the tallest hotel in the city.
The Hotel Activities
The hotel’s gym is spacious and well-equipped, so we couldn’t come up with a good excuse not to get in a workout. Next door to the gym is the steam room, sauna and hot springs pool, where we had a really good recovery session. There is also a cold dip pool, and we tried really hard to get in, but just couldn’t in the end. Other guests took the plunge, though, and they survived.
Later in our stay in Taiwan, we took a trip out to the Beitou hot springs, which are about an hour away by train. You certainly find more variety out there but, if you don’t have time to escape the city, the Shangri-la’s hot springs pool will give you a bit of the experience without leaving the hotel.
The hotel had us absolutely covered when it came to food and drink. The cocktails at Marco Polo Lounge on level 38 were particularly excellent. The Lobby Court had a great vibe to it, too. It’s Taipei’s only gin bar. In the mornings, the huge variety at the breakfast buffet had us overwhelmed – it was so hard to choose! We really wanted to try the sushi at Ibuki by Takagi Kuzuo, a Japanese restaurant in the hotel but will have to leave that till next time.
The Hotel Room
We were expecting a lot from Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza which only reopened in May 2015 after its massive, US$50 million renovations. All 420 rooms were upgraded, as were the Horizon Club Lounge and Cake Room. The renovations marked the hotel’s 20th anniversary and it seems the interior designers’ approach was to pay homage to the hotel’s roots. When you enter the lobby, you are greeted by classic marble floors and columns. The hotel’s personality is reflected in the details: elegant curves and contemporary textures, that aren’t overdone.
One of the best things about our stay, no joke, was the bed linen. It felt incredibly silky and must be at least 1,000 thread count. The room itself was large and very comfortable. The bathroom was well-laid out and featured a beautiful large-panel window. We were tickled to find a tablet-sized TV next to the basin, which made it too easy to lose track of time in the shower.
The Raohe Street Night Markets
If you do decide to venture out of the hotel, everything is just a short cab-ride away – and cabs are very cheap in Taiwan so it’s an absolute no-brainer. Taipei 101 is ten minutes away, and the Raohe Street Night Market is just a little further. There are lots of street markets in Taipei but Raohe is without doubt our favourite one. They serve up delicious specialties that you can’t get anywhere else and we can’t stop thinking about them.
Raohe Street is 600 metres long so make sure you get there with an empty stomach ready to try it all. We kicked things off with quail egg takoyaki, little balls of gooey goodness. We also sampled authentic Xiao Long Bao soup dumplings, which are actually from Shanghai but were perfected made famous by Taiwan’s Din Tai Fung. A local favourite is Taiwanese Beef Noodles (Lao Dang) and, for a quirky dessert option, try the deep fried milk. It’s awesome.
The Wrap-Up – Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza Taipei Hotel Review
The Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza Hotel is a fantastic way to experience the best things Taiwan has to offer. Not only does it afford you the best views of Taipei 101, the Shangri-la gives you access to more than a taste of Taiwan’s hot springs and diverse food culture. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and would highly recommend.
Go to Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei to book your experience.