Having spent most childhood summers in slower-paced Taichung (although this isn’t really the case anymore) – Taipei was always the more fast-paced, big-city destination up north. Kind of like the LA to San Diego. Or a mini Vegas, at least in terms of the nightlife. This latest visit was my husband’s first time, and we only had 2 days there. After an obligatory visit to Taipei 101, we spent the rest of our time exploring artist / creative neighborhoods and hangouts.
Rooms. We stayed at the S Hotel where the building and rooms were designed by Philippe Starck. The room vibes are a fusion of Palm Springs meets Beverly Hills, in a good, cheerful way. I loved the yellow-colored theme of our room, which made me think of the Viceroy Palm Springs and also matched perfectly with their complimentary pineapple cakes.
Amenities. The helpful/friendly staff along with the complimentary continental breakfast were my favorite amenities. The staff is always around to help and speak English, making it really easy to ask for help navigating to an area or calling a cab. They helped me figure out the gallery location for a Joan Cornella’ exhibit (but more on that later). The breakfast offered at S Hotel is solid, similar to the Lalu’s you get a variety of eastern and western cuisine, both of which are very good. Their salad bar has delicacies like cold squid and pig ears.
Located in a university town and near the trendy area of Gongguan is Shida Night Market. The market has a great mix of Taiwanese food staples, boutiques, and cool little bars and restaurants. We went on a rainy day, which was even more pleasant because there were no crowds. The stand that stood out to us the most was a dad & son-owned shawarma stand called Hi-Way Shawarma. Outside the realm of the usual night market suspects, Hi-Way makes shawarmas, unlike anything we’ve had. They’re very simple – generous slabs of chicken from a spit, raw onions, shredded lettuce, and delicious mustard spread on a kaiser-like roll.
In terms of desserts, there’s no shortage to choose from; sweet omelets, crepes, and egg waffles.
We ended the night with cocktails at Til Cafe & Bar. The daiquiri martinis I had were 100.
Food Staples in Taipei
Du Hsiao Yueh: really good noodles and fresh veggies.
Ice Monster: killer shave ice. The mango and strawberry are the most popular flavors – I’d base your fruit choice off of which fruit is in season.
Tiger Sugar: for that perfect gram shot of the syrup dripping into your milk tea. Opt for less sugar.
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. Another reason why we loved staying at the S Hotel was serendipitously it was close to Songshan Park. Recommended by a Macallan bartender we talked to, we went to visit on Day 2. The main building was formerly a tobacco factory, and now houses galleries, boutique shops, and creative agencies. It’s completely surrounded by native flora and fauna. It was also where the Joan Cornella’ exhibit was. We only had the morning to spend there but could have easily spent the rest of the afternoon too.
Huashan Creative Park. Also close to a university, the boutique shops in Huashan only carry products made by local artists – a great place to shop for gifts and unique jewelry. We even tried homebrewed beer made with plums and peaches.