Taipei’s Grande Dame
Taipei has always drawn visitors with its vibrant street life in the form of the preponderance of cute cafes, local food stalls and up-to-date independent fashion boutiques all across the city’s myriad corners. Now you can indulge in your explorative side and then return to luxe and comfortable confines with the recently re-launched Grand Hyatt Taipei.
There is something to be said about sprawling and gleaming marble-clad hotel lobbies that take your breath away when you enter it. The spacious atriums, high ceilings, grand colonnades and intricate floral arrangements tend to inspire thoughts of a certain glamourous and old-world style of travel, when the purpose of a journey was as much about the travel destination as it was about entering the world of and falling for the seduction of a luxurious and charming hotel.
And all this is perhaps why the Grand Hyatt Taipei, which is situated in the heart of Taipei’s vibrant and dynamic business district, continues to draw in guests even after millennial-type travellers have increasingly eschewed grand hotels for smaller and quirkier boutique establishments in recent years.
Stepping into its cool and elegant confines from the balmy street, you are first faced with a gently bubbling white marble fountain that is simple and classic in its design, with its base curved on four sides and delicately carved figurines spouting streams of water. The lobby’s airy atrium is beautifully bright, thanks to its glass roof that rises almost four-storeys above.
Recently re-launched in 2015 after an extensive top-to-toe renovation that saw the building and its 853 rooms and suites stripped to its fundamental concrete bones before being redesigned and rebuilt at a reported cost of US$100 million, the hotel now boasts a soothing blend of eastern and western influences.
Thanks to a restrained hand in the design process, neither element is ostentatiously overbearing, so you will not see a multitude of faux-European design detailing nor a plethora of kitsch orientalism. Instead, the hotel bears a pleasantly modern and inviting aesthetic that celebrates casualness, lightness and space. This new and less formal vibe at the hotel is evident right from check-in – where hotel staff once greeted guests from one side of a high counter that created a barrier between staff and guests, both parties can now gather at any of five low slung desks for a less officious and more personal introduction.
Aside from the lobby, the rooms are equally contemporary in spirit. Rooms range in size from 33 and 40 square metres at the Grand Deluxe level to more than 83 square metres in an Executive Suite. Bathrooms are clad in half-square-meters of light brown marble and are installed with sophisticated lighting that turns the space into a welcoming and relaxing sanctuary, a sensation that is further enhanced if you take a room with deep-soaking tubs.
Muted and earthy colours and the use of light-wood panelling on floors and textured wallpaper on walls create a cosy ambience that is handsome and comforting yet not overly masculine, while generously sized windows introduce plenty of light into the confines.
Little stylistic touches such as vases of flowers and stacked tomes of coffee table books instil a homely albeit stylish vibe. And while the artwork in some hotels often leave much to be desired, you will be delighted to not find garish pseudo-Renaissance style paintings of yachts or mountains on the walls of the rooms, but instead, contemporary-looking pieces of art that ranged from graphical etches to abstract flourishes of colour.
Adjacent to Taipei 101 mall and financial tower, unbeatable views are offered from some rooms where you’ll be able to see the tower right outside your window. But should you not want to see the building’s lights flickering at night while you sleep, just hit the button to roll the window screen down. With luxury and comfort the buzz words these days, every room is installed with in-room technology, Internet access, Wi-Fi and satellite channels so you can luxuriate amidst the convenience.
The hotel is also in close proximity to the Taipei World Trade Centre, Taipei International Convention Centre and the Exhibition Halls, which makes it a popular choice for business travellers. However, leisure travellers and families will also appreciate that it is just a three-minute walk from the newly opened Xinyi MRT line, which gives access to all other areas around the city.
Of the nine restaurants and bars at the hotel, from Chinese haute cuisine to continental fare, Yun Jin is particularly delightful with its signature Chinese dishes that are collected from different cuisines across Greater China. In one meal, you can taste authentic Chinese cuisines incorporated from major cities such as Sichuan, Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Jiangze and also Taiwan, which will no doubt set you on an exciting culinary journey.
So, in spite of Taipei’s charms, don’t be surprised if in coming to visit the city, you end up spending more time in the Grand Hyatt Hotel. After all, enjoying the pleasures of an exquisite and hospitable hotel and being taken away from the shackles of home used to be part of what travelling was all about.