Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan is just one of a handful of luxury hotels in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan. Located just steps away from the city’s main railway station and 5 to 10 minutes drive from the tourist attractions of the city center, the 333-room hotel serves as an excellent gateway for those on a short jaunt to the buzzing city. The hotel is also just next door to the Far Eastern Plaza department store which has a couple of restaurants in their basement.
On a tour around Taiwan, I spent two nights in Tainan and chose the Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan due to the reliable Shangri-la brand and wonderful location. The hotel was converted from an office building in 2007 which explains the interesting atrium found in the upper floors. There aren’t many properties in Taiwan that are built in this way. This particular Shangri-la differs from most of the chain’s other city hotels in a number of ways. Firstly, there is a slightly higher inclination towards leisure travel, as evidenced by free regular shuttle buses to city attractions and night markets. Also, this is one of the few Shangri-la non-resort properties I know that offers family rooms.
Entering the property for the first time, one is greeted by Shangri-la’s trademark high-ceiling lobby with thick columns – the kind of setting that works well for a lobby lounge. Reception is at the far end of the hall and I was given my keys in no time as I checked in.
My room for this particular stay at the Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan was the Deluxe Room. It is only the second category room in the hotel but the 50 square meters of space I was accorded certainly reflected no compromise on size. Along with the adjacent bath area, the room actually follows a slightly squarish layout that allows for a lot of space in the middle. There’s plenty of seating space including a full-fledge couch as well as a fluffy work chair. The storage compartments are suitable for families with plenty of surfaces to put baggage. The TV is situated at the sides due to the layout of the room but the TV set can be adjusted slightly to allow for a more comfortable viewing experience.
The overall decor has a deliberately earthy theme. The hotel engaged Hong Kong’s AB Concept and Taiwan’s Metro Space Design to accentuate a “golden harvest.” This means plenty of brown and other muted colors – those not dissimilar from other Shangri-la properties.
The bathroom is a well thought out affair with separate tub and shower facilities. The latter comes with rain showers with excellent pressure. Toiletries are from the in-house brand. One of the things I like about Shangri-la hotels is how towels of varying sizes are generously provided. It’s no exception at the Tainan property.
Horizon Club Benefits at Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan
My stay at Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan came with access to the Horizon Executive Lounge. For everyone’s perusal, here are the Horizon Club benefits:
- Personalized check-in and check-out service between 6:30AM to 11:30PM
- Complimentary breakfast either at the lounge of at Cafe at Far Eastern betwen 6:30AM to 10AM
- Concierge and secretarial services
- Coffee, tea and soft drink between 6:30AM and 11:30PM
- All-day refreshments from 10AM to 11:30PM
- Evening cocktails from 5:30PM to 7:30PM
- 2 hour use of the Horizon Club Executive Boardroom per stay
- Complimentary internet access
- One complimentary suit pressing or laundry to the equivalent of TWD 495 per stay
- Free local city phone calls
I had very fond memories of the excellent service at the Horizon Club of Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei and was curious to see how the Tainan property would match up. For evening cocktails, I noticed that there was a distinct effort to provide a dinner-ready dishes, with fried rice constantly featured in the buffet spread. This contrasts with the Taipei property where there are more choices but the offerings are mostly canape style.
Service was equally attentive, with offers for drinks constantly made. I communicate in both English and Chinese and found no issues speaking to staff in English even though I expected things to be different outside the capital. You might not find staff members speaking in distinctly British or Aussie accents here but it’s all good.
Aside from evening cocktails, I made the effort to check out the Horizon Executive Lounge for breakfast. If volume is what you are after, the humongous spread at Cafe at Far Eastern can’t be beat but the lounge has items such as pancakes, waffles and eggs benedict which are made on order. If you prefer quieter surroundings, the serene ambiance in the lounge is another reason to have your morning meal here.
Facilities – Free Shuttle Bus to Tainan’s Tourist Attractions
One thing worth noting is that the hotel provides a free shuttle bus to many of Tainan’s top tourist attractions so if you’re here for leisure, you might actually be able to save a bit on transport costs. The bus runs through places such as the Chihkan Tower, Confucius Temple, Shennong Street, Blueprint Creative Park and Tainan Train Station. At night, the bus also goes to night markets such as the Garden Night Market and Da Dong Night Market. Shuttle bus schedule as follows:
- Weekdays (11AM, 1PM, 3PM, 5PM, 7PM)
- Weekends and holidays (11AM, 12PM, 1PM, 2PM, 3PM, 4PM, 5PM, 6PM, 7PM)
- One nightly departure to either Garden or Da Dong Night Market at 7PM
Staff members over at the Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan are proud to point out their heart-shaped pool to guests. It’s not too obvious from ground level but some of the guest rooms get to have a view of this pool. I was in Tainan during some relatively chilly December days but thankfully, the pool temperature is regulated during the winter months.
Breakfast at Cafe at Far Eastern, Tainan
As mentioned previously, the Cafe at Far Eastern has a humongous buffet spread and it’s worth checking out even if it’s just once. The sheer amount of food is felt the minute you’re shown to the table with a map of the different buffet stations serving as a placemat. In case you want to narrow down on the things you should try, make sure to have some local Tainan Dan Zai Noodles and a bowl of the restaurant’s delicious Beef Soup.
There’s a strong Taiwanese flair to the morning spread with the ubiquitous congee station filled with many types of condiments. For coffee lovers, there’s plenty of types to choose from. I was pleasantly surprised to find latte art that came with my cup – something quite unheard of where hotel breakfast buffets are concerned.
The Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan is among the most affordable Shangri-la hotels in the world. During the peak December season that I was there, rooms could be had for well below US$200 a night, a steal when you consider that Shangri-la is a 5-star hotel chain. The price sounds even more compelling when considering the fact that it’s for a family room. The great thing about the property is that it’s very leisure oriented with facilities such as the Live, Love, Laugh shuttle bus that takes guests to various tourist attractions and night markets for free. I really can’t say enough in recommending this hotel if you’re in Tainan for leisure.
Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan
89 Section West, University Road
Tainan City 70146
Phone: +886 6 702 8888