When we visited Taipei in May for The Taipei Exchange, we quickly realised it was an incredible city - smaller and more manageable than neighbouring Hong Kong and Tokyo, but equally vibrant and exciting. The city had something for everyone - from ancient temples and Japanese tea houses to a thrilling culinary scene (on both street corners and in trendy restaurants) foot massage parlours, design cafés and concept stores.
If you don't know where to start, W Taipei is a safe bet. Located in the buzzing modern district of Xinyi, this design-focused hotel is the most fashionable stay in the city. The W is a stone's throw from Taipei's most famous landmark Taipei 101 and a host of shopping malls (check out Eslite next door) trendy restaurants and nightclubs. But there's also a sweeter side to the neighbourhood where warm steamed buns are served on leafy side streets. Nearby is also Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (the city's hub for creatives) with its cute design cafés and souvenir shops.
Made up of 405 rooms across 31 floors, W Taipei puts new meaning into the phrase 'a room with a view'. The views aren't only from your bedroom - eat incredible dumplings 31 floors up at YEN Chinese while looking over the city, workout at the FIT gym against a backdrop of the city's skyline, or grab an artisanal cocktail at the rooftop Wet Bar and sip it poolside. The best part? The staff. Service here is second to none, and they know how to experience the best of the city. Want a local foot massage? They'll send you to the chicest spot - Relaxing Trip. Want to skip the buffet and try a Taiwanese soya milk breakfast? There's a famous place just around the corner off Zhong Xiao E. Road. They won't send you to the tourist traps, unless you want them too.
Make no mistake, W Taipei is a sleek, five-star establishment meant for the jetsetters of the world. But they also understand that people want to explore the city like a local. So whether you want to chill by the pool or sweat it out at a roadside noodle spot, this is where to start your journey.
There are 405 rooms across 31 floors. Rooms are modern, sleek and stylish with huge floor-to-ceiling windows that look out across the sprawling cityscape of Taipei. Our favourite room? The Extreme Wow suite is exactly what it says on the tin - Lady Gaga stayed here when she visited Taipei (if you were considering it).
What's for breakfast?
The hotel's ground floor (which is actually on the 10th floor so you still have a view) is home to the Kitchen Table restaurant which serves up breakfast buffet style. The buffet has everything you would want and more - Taiwanese dumplings, noodle dishes, unbelievable fresh fruit and an egg bar.
How about lunch and dinner?
There are two main restaurants - the kitchen table and YEN Chinese Restaurant. The former is a laid back affair with both local and international dishes served throughout the day. YEN Chinese Restaurant, on the 31st floor, is reserved for fine dining in a sleek and stylish setting. It's a modern take on traditional Chinese dishes and you'll have some of the best dumplings in the city.
Is there a bar?
There are a few! Drinking is serious business at the W. You'll find the best bartenders in the city whipping up concoctions every night of the week in WOOBAR, one of the most popular bars in the city, and YEN BAR.
Things you should know
W Taipei is pumping with activity most hours of the day. If you want a quiet escape, this isn't it (although rooms are pretty much soundproof and the rooftop pool is a pretty sweet respite).
Within a short walk you can find…
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park - housed in an old tobacco factory, you'll find a number of galleries, exhibition spaces, small shops and the cutest bookshop called Yue Yue. This is where the cool kids hang out in Taipei. The Eslite Spectrum Songyan - a shopping centre directly next to the W with a famous bookshop on the top floor. We love the one inside the Cultural and Creative park too. The Taipei 101 - one of the tallest buildings in the world and Taipei's most famous landmark. Dine at S.T.A.Y, a French restaurant by Yannick Alleno inside.