Photo courtesy of SHANGRI-LA FAR EASTERN PLAZA HOTEL
Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza Hotel
Taipei’s dual-tower Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza Hotel lives up to the utopian connotations of its brand name. Though clearly luxurious, tamped-down earth tones and Song-dynasty decor in the guestrooms and common areas keep this hotel from feeling overly ostentatious. The Shangri-la uses both its height (it’s among the tallest buildings in town) and location on a tree-lined avenue in the southeastern end of the city to great advantage. Most rooms offer views of either city or mountains, and many overlook both. Though the Shangri-la often caters to high-end business travelers (due in no small part to its location and extraordinarily helpful, multilingual staff), with its close proximity to so much of what Taipei has to offer pleasure seekers, vacationers preferring substance over flash will find the hotel worthy of its name.
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Standing on the southern end of a wide, tree-lined boulevard that runs through some of Taipei’s best shopping areas, the corner of Taipei over which the Shangri-la towers is best known for business and shopping. A pleasant walk of about a mile north leads to the glittering department stores and Hello Kitty whimsy of Zhongxiao East Road (yes, there’s even a Hello Kitty–themed restaurant), while a slightly shorter walk westward down Heping East Road leads to the trees, pavilions, and stone foot massage paths of Da’an Forest Park. Past this lies the university district, with its myriad small restaurants, movie theaters, and smaller shops. The Wall, Taipei’s premier club for alternative music and a great place to dance, socialize, and check out live bands, is located in this area.
Need to Know
Rooms: 367 rooms (including 53 suites). From $295. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: It should come as no surprise that a hotel that prides itself on being Taipei’s highest hotel should utilize to the fullest its stunning vistas. Head chef Marco Priolo serves contemporary Italian cuisine with flair (and an extensive wine list) on the 38th-floor Marco Polo. Shangri-la’s top spot is reserved for the Shanghainese creations of head chef Tai Ching-lin’s 39th-floor Shanghai Pavilion, which is the restaurant of choice for locals looking to impress visitors with stunning views and cuisine to match. Beautifully crafted dishes defying the expectations of anyone believing that Cantonese food is mere dim sum is served at the sixth-floor Shang Palace, and visitors looking for a quick snack at ground level will find sandwiches, salads, and pastries on the first-floor Cake Shop. Spa and gym details: Spa use and massage is provided amid the scent of flowers and wood in the 40th-floor Qi ShiseidoSalon & Spa, offering private pampering at a heavenly altitude. The sixth-floor health club is fully equipped with state-of-the-art exercise equipment, and a Jacuzzi and steam room. Though the outdoor pool on the seventh floor is lovely, it pales in comparison to the more extraordinary experience of doing laps with a 360-degree view of the city and surrounding mountains from the heated rooftop pool.
Who’s it for: Business travelers looking for a peaceful oasis in which to recharge between meetings, and visitors looking for a top-end experience. Our favorite rooms: Eschewing gimmicks and bling for understated luxury throughout, all rooms at the Shangri-la are an excellent value. The Deluxe category rooms have higher ceilings than the Superior rooms, offering even more breathtaking views of the surrounding city. Ask for a room facing the northeast to ensure a view of Taipei 101. Explore nearby: The temples, tea fields, and gloriously serene teahouses of Taipei’s Maokong Hills are a surprisingly quick trip away. Take the brown line MRT from Liuzhangli Station six stops south and switch to the gondola at the Muzha Zoo Station.