Exemplifying the term centrally located, the Sino-French themed Palais de Chine is within the original (and much smaller) city of Taipei, once surrounded by the last city wall built during the late Ching dynasty. Like the neighborhood to which it belongs, the Palais de Chine incorporates elements both ultra-modern and clearly classical. Rooms are cool and refined, equipped with imported cloud-soft beds, 40-inch flat-screen monitors, full broadband wireless, and individual coffeemakers.
It’s in the hotel’s common areas that touches of antiquity truly abound, from faux-antique furniture (from both China and France), delicate flower arrangements, and dark wood paneling. A high-rise hotel in a deeply urban setting, the Palais de Chine is somewhat lacking in natural daylight, making it an excellent roost for urban night owls.
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The neighborhood surrounding Taipei Main Station is Taipei’s busiest, and there's much to explore within walking distance of the Palais de Chine. The hotel sits roughly equidistant from Taipei's North and East gates (which, along with “little south gate,” are the last remnants of a wall that once surrounded Taipei). Directly to the south lies 2-28 Peace Memorial Park, which boasts two museums, two pagodas, and a rather invigorating foot-massage path. To the southwest lies Ximending District, Taipei’s answer to Tokyo’s Ginza, an excellent place for eating, drinking, shopping, and entertainment, and a hub of Taipei’s gay scene.
Need to Know
Rooms: 286 rooms. From $190. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: With everything from multi-story malls to alleys boasting every conceivable street food (in a town renowned for street food), the surrounding neighborhood is quite probably the last place one would worry about finding food. For those who can’t be bothered to search, the hotel itself has four lovely dining options. With dark redwood hues and large, round tables complete with lazy Susans, Le Palais serves excellent Cantonese fare including, of course, dim sum. Distinctly more European in both cuisine and style, the rather posh (note the Versailles-style chandeliers) La Rotisserie serves three buffet meals a day as well as afternoon tea. Rounding the interior dining options off are a European-themed tea salon called Le Thé, and the slightly avant-garde cocktail bar and restaurant called (what else?) Le Bar. Spa and gym details: The 17th-floor Vite Gym is equipped with a small array of stationary bikes and Nautilus machines. Visitors looking to work off jet lag will have to do so by walking around the surrounding neighborhood (which is open all night), as the gym closes from 11 p.m. until 6:30 a.m.
Who’s it for: Visitors looking for a chic, affordable retreat within walking distance of a fair chunk of the city’s must-visit attractions. Our favorite rooms: For surveying the surrounding city’s glowing neon skyline, the balconies attached to the Executive Superior rooms on floors 14–16 are simply without parallel. The imported French furnishings and tasteful art adorning the walls gives these rooms a chic bachelor-studiofeel. Replenish your lens: While the young set swarms the neighborhood’s electronics malls seeking out the latest cell phones, local shutterbugs head two blocks west to haggle over cameras and lenses at the older shops on Bo Ai Road. One shop, at #60 Bo Ai, is run by an older gentleman who’s devoted his life to bringing damaged gear back from the dead. See him before throwing your broken camera away.