Design hotels put new face on old Taipei

The opening of more and more design hotels in Taipei City’s Ximending is putting a new face on the former commercial center Wanhua District while raising Taiwan’s profile as a must-visit destination for tourists from across Asia.

These eye-catching and stylish accommodation facilities have increased from 60 to 104 over the past four years on the back of rising numbers of visitors from Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Thailand and mainland China. This influx of arrivals is spurring economic activity and investment in western Taipei, which declined in popularity over the past 20 years as the eastern part of the city attracted trendy restaurants and retailers.

Kang Dong-hwan, 22, a student from Pukyong National University in the South Korean port city of Busan, said he chose to stay in Ximindeng on the strength of its cultural attractions like The Red House, a 108-year-old Western-style red-brick octagonal structure doubling as a cultural and creative industry market bazaar; cinemas; coffee shops; food stalls; tea houses; and convenient central location.

“All the accommodation and travel websites give Ximending top ratings,” he said. “A lot of my friends also recommended the area as one of the best places to get a real taste of Taipei and Taiwan hospitality.”

WOW Hostel Ximen is one of the many accommodation facilities regularly frequented by overseas tourists. Once a commercial space, the hostel’s fashionable design is complemented by an evening soundtrack of live music from a club on the next floor down nowhere older singers belt out popular Taiwan tunes from the 1930s and 1940s.

Cindy Yang, general manager of the hostel, said she gives all her guests earplugs to ensure a solid night’s sleep. “But many are curious about our culture and seem to enjoy the aural appeal of what is a fast-disappearing aspect of Taiwan culture.”

Concerning the rise of Ximending as a Taipei hub for design hotels, Yang said this development is a sign that Taiwan’s hospitality and tourism industries are maturing. “I believe the trend will continue unabated as the public and private sectors recognize the profit potential and channel in more investment.”

Taiwan is one of the hottest trending travel destinations in Asia. Statistics from Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications reveal that 10.4 million visitors arrived in 2015, up 5.3 percent year on year. South Koreans were the biggest growth segment at 24 percent. The latest bureau release confirms total tourism revenues hit NT$753 billion (US$23 billion) in 2014.

Source: Taiwan Today