There is perhaps no other hotel in Taipei that has a better view than Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Taipei. At 43 storeys tall, the property stands at southern section of the main drag of the CBD, Tun Hwa South Road and is adjacent to the Far Eastern Plaza Mall. The property has been around for more than 20 years but is still known as the tallest hotel in the city. Having completed a massive renovation in 2015, the property is now equpped with some of the state-of-the-art amenities of newer Shangri-la hotels. I stayed at the Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel during a recent visit to Taipei to check out the refurbished rooms.
When asking a cab driver to take you to this property, one must be mindful to give the Chinese name which is 远东国际大饭店. If you decide to take the MRT, the hotel is close to the Liuzhangli MRT station.
Horizon Premier King Room
During this particular stay, I was billeted at one of the Horizon Premier King rooms. You’ll notice how different the room is from your typical layout. At 58 square meters, the Horizon Premier King is not merely spacious but is also a corner room so you get plenty of sunlight coming in from the expansive windows spanning two sides.
Due to the room arrangement, the bed actually sits perpendicular to the window but doesn’t directly face it due to what is possibly feng shui. Instead, the window on one side is actually split into two by a wall where the LCD TV also hangs.
The room is spacious enough to have several seating spaces. The first you’ll see is a sofa followed by the working desk next to it. As you can see from the picture above, the view of the Taipei 101 is very much visible from the desk area – adding a nice touch to what might otherwise be a dull work session.
By the other window, you’ll find two rotatable chairs. Some of the Horizon Premier rooms have direct views of the Taipei 101 and these two chairs are specially situated for you to enjoy the spectacle without having to stand or move another chair from somewhere else.
Fortunately for Android users like myself, the hotel was also thoughtful enough to replace the traditional iPod dock with a Bluetooth speaker instead. The sound system comes from Bose and provides for a marvelous listening experience.
To get to the bathroom, you’ll pass by your very own walk-through closet – a concept I loved due to the generous amount of storage space. If you happen to be staying with a friend, you could also have a relatively more private area to change.
Speaking of the bathroom, it is probably my favorite part of the room! The highlight is a bathtub facing the window which provides for quite a special experience when you go for a soak.
The toilet bowl comes with a Japanese style bidet – the only Shangri-la property I’ve seen with one except for the one in Tokyo. Even the tissue rolls are quite impressive. At first use, you’ll find them neatly folded in a triangular pattern with the Shangri-la logo imprinted at the beginning of the roll. What amazed me however, was how housekeeping never misses out folding them for you during each cleaning (even during turndown service!).
Horizon Club at Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Hotel Taipei
My room came with access to the Horizon Club – another venue where you can get sweeping views of the city including Taipei 101. I dropped by for evening cocktails and found a wide assortment of drinks and canapes. Aside from the usual cold cuts, I was amazed to find a decent number of hot items. If you are too tired to head out for dinner, the spread here is actually quite sufficient for a light evening meal.
During my stay, I was also politely handed a piece of paper containing the Horizon Club benefits. These were:
- Breakfast from 6:30 to 10 a.m.
- Evening cocktails from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. daily
- Coffee, tea, soft drinks and light snacks throughout the day
- Computer and Internet access
- Complimentary laundry service for equivalent of TWD 605 per stay
- Usage of the Horizon meeting room for two hours per day
- Complimentary use of portable Wi-Fi router
I thought the last benefit was quite thoughtful. If you are planning to explore the city and didn’t manage to get a local sim, the portable wifi router is definitely of much help. Just remember to list down the places you wish to visit in Chinese! The flexibility with the laundry inclusion is also interesting. In other hotels, the club benefit would specifically revolve around pressing one or two pieces of clothing but here you get the option of having your shirt washed instead if that is your preference.
While I do prefer to practice my Chinese when in Taiwan, I was quite impressed by the impeccable English spoken by the Horizon Club staff. Their accents suggested to me that many of them learned the language in western countries. For someone like myself who can get by with Chinese, that probably doesn’t make a difference. But for overseas guests especially from the Americas, Australia or the UK, this is certainly a plus.
As I stayed in Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel for two nights, I managed to try the breakfast both in the all-day dining restaurant, Café at Far Eastern; as well as at the Horizon Club. In the morning, the latter has a modest buffet spread but you do get to enjoy ordering from the ala-carte menu.
Breakfast at Cafe at Far Eastern
For variety, by all means the Café at Far Eastern is the place to go to. The variety is quite huge and a placemat displays a map of the different buffet stations. You will find sections dedicated to Western, Japanese and Indian cuisine. The Chinese section is quite interesting in the sense that there is a strong emphasis on Taiwanese sensibilities. As such, you will find a traditional congee station filled with the condiments that locals love.
I was also quite relieved to find that the hotel still offers fresh juices for breakfast as I am starting to see chilled juices in other Shangri-la properties. Even the apple juice here – which is stubbornly perhaps never fresh anywhere – is.
Ibuki – Japanese Restaurant at Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Hotel Taipei
Many of the Shangri-la properties carry a heavy focus in food and beverage -as evidenced by The Table by Golden Circle – and the same applies in Taipei. The hotel has no less than 6 restaurants catering to various cuisines. The most atmospheric of them all is perhaps Ibuki, the in-house Japanese restaurant.
I tried the Utage Kaiseki (TWD 2,580), an 8-course lunch set inclusive of one glass of Yamatan Masamune Ginjo.
The set carries the usual soup, sashimi, tempura and dessert but the 4th course is quite special. With it, the chef sources for seasonal inspirations and looks at what’s available in the market to prepare something different. During my visit, I was treated to a mishmash of grilled amadai, poached asparagus rolled with U.S. beef, taro with miso, green beans and handmade green pea tofu.
For a really special ambiance, the restaurant also has a private dining room overlooking a Japanese garden. The setup is so authentic that you’d seriously think you’re in Japan.
Outdoor temperatures ranged between 16 to 20 degrees Celsius at the time of my stay so it wasn’t really a good idea to go swimming. However, during the summer months, the rooftop pool offers a panoramic view of the city. Even for those not wishing to swim, a couple of outdoor lounge chairs are set by the balcony for those looking to sunbathe. The pool area wasn’t part of the renovation that took place in 2015 and looks slightly more dated compared to the rest of the hotel.
After having stayed at 9 Shangri-la properties as of this writing, I would have to say that I am most impressed with this property (tied with the Shangri-la Tokyo). I could go on and on about how luxurious the room is but overall, what makes this property special are the little things. From the housekeeping’s keen attention to detail to my pressing request being completed within two hours and the practical concept of using Bluetooth speakers, the property seems to reflect a positive (and practical!) future direction at which the Shangri-la group is heading. The Taipei property has got it right.
Shangri-la’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Taipei
201 Tun Hwa South Road
Taipei, Taiwan 10675
Tel: +886 2 2378 8888
You can read more of my hotel reviews here.