What to Do around the W Taipei

The W Taipei is located in Taiwan’s modern Xinyi District. Just south of the W Hotel are the World Trade Center, a massive shopping district, and the iconic Taipei 101. The booming economy has spawned a trend of unique boutique restaurants and lounges, and the alleys in this part of Taipei are populated with inspired designs and creative concepts like smith&hsu, where blends of juices and traditional Chinese teas are served alongside British tea snacks in a warehouse-style setting.

No. 10, Section 5, Zhongxiao East Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
The W Taipei showcases the city’s geography and cutting-edge technology. The lobby’s light installation reacts to human motion, and guest rooms feature dramatic skyline views. The W is also home to some of Taipei’s hottest nightspots, including the Bar at Yen on the top floor. From $314. 886/(0) 2-7703-8888. This appeared in the November/December 2012 issue.
The latest offering from Taiwan-based bookstore chain Eslite is a sleek four-story complex in Songshan Cultural Park, an arts and culture center located in a former tobacco factory in the heart of the city. Whether you’re browsing for books, home décor, food, or gifts, Eslite’s thoughtful curation of local and international treasures ensures you won’t leave empty-handed. The third floor of Eslite Spectrum houses an entire row of Taiwanese tea shops, offering a cozy haven for shopped-out customers to relax and refuel (and to pick up some A-grade Taiwanese tea to take with them). Spend a few hours at the rustic-chic wooden table enjoying a cup of grain-based Hakka “leicha” tea: I’m addicted to the SIIDCHA brand.
110, Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, Section 5, Zhongxiao East Road, 8號統一時代百貨-6樓
This isn’t your grandmother’s version of tea-time. The interior of each smith&hsu tea shop (there are various locations all over the city) is an ode to minimalist design, with brightly colored tins of tea providing the only pops of color. The Ximending outpost, housed in a cavernous brick-and-cement space, is more “warehouse party” than “afternoon tea”. Equally unique are the 40-plus bottles of tea leaves brought out on a tray for you to preview smith&hsu’s tea selection, which range from traditional black, green, and oolong teas to more contemporary blended and fruit teas. The shop gives a nod to the Western afternoon tea tradition with unbelievably delicious scones, served with Devonshire clotted cream and farm-made jams on the side. Reservations are recommended, particularly at the intimate storefront across from the W Hotel/Taipei City Hall MRT. 886/(0)2-2747-4857
54 Sōngqín Street
Though the bagels here are hands down the best in Taipei, Good Cho’s is so much more than just a bagel joint. Housed in a ramshackle military veterans’ housing complex tucked in the shadow of Taipei 101, the shop’s quirky, DIY vibe marks a cozy departure from the ultra-modern style of surrounding buildings. Come early on the weekends for a chance to grab a bagel in flavors like sun-dried chili tomato and, if you’re lucky, a seat in the popular café. Or opt to take your bagel to go so you can browse through a carefully curated selection of Taiwan‘s best home-grown products, ranging from beautifully packaged tea leaves to whimsical stationery goods. 886/(0)2-2758-2609
110, Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, Section 5, Zhongxiao East Road, 10號31樓
The only thing better than a room with a view is a bar with a view, and YEN Bar is undoubtedly that. Located on the top floor of the hotel, floor-to-ceiling glass walls open up onto a stunning view of Taipei 101 and the surrounding city. Compared to sister bar Woobar, YEN Bar can be likened to an older sibling: a bit more traditional, but still undeniably intriguing.

At the afternoon tea buffet, you’ll find whimsical offerings such as paint tubes of jelly (a nod to artist Marc Chagall) and meringues planted in edible soil alongside dim-sum classics. Sip on a world-recognized tea harvested from nearby Pinglin District: Oriental Beauty, anyone?

If afternoon tea isn’t actually your cup of tea, YEN Bar has an extensive drinks list that includes over 80 types of whisky, a reflection of what seems to be Taiwan’s current spirit du jour.

Reservations recommended for afternoon tea.
110, Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, Section 5, Zhongxiao East Road, 10號10F
The state-of-the-art design and chic layout create an almost surreal ambiance, enhanced by a unique cocktail program and an fabulous menu. Enjoy your libations on the outdoor terrace as you take in stunning views of Xinyi district in one of Taipei’s most elite nightlife destinations.
No. 10, Section 5, Zhongxiao East Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Being in a busy Asian capital like Taipei can easily make your stress levels skyrocket, leaving you in need of a serene haven. With its futuristic interior (even the massage tables give off a soothing glow), AWAY Spa puts a fanciful spin on a spa experience that is literally “out of this world”. But if the spa interior is ethereal, the treatments are entirely tactile—the AWAY Spa masseurs combine rigorous Asian beauty techniques with Western approaches for a unique range of treatments. In addition to the fundamental massage and facial treatments, AWAY offers options such as slimming beauty treatments with contouring bandages, skin-whitening illuminators, and even daring snake serum facial peels for men. The day before my stay at AWAY, I’d done a grueling 4-hour waterfall hike. After a quick consultation, I was booked for the Body Refuel, a massage incorporating techniques previously reserved for elite athletes. An hour in the spa room with an experienced masseuse and a prime view of the city worked its magic on my aching muscles. I soaked off the last bit of my soreness in the spa’s tranquil CHANGE room, equipped with a sauna, stream room, and a range of hot tubs. Next time I over-indulge at the hotel brunch buffet downstairs, I’ll be heading up to AWAY for that body-slimming bandage treatment. Double and single rooms are available—visit the AWAY Spa website to book an appointment.
Alley 342, Lane 150, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
The base of Elephant Mountain is just a short walk from the base of Taipei 101 and offers one of the most accessible and stunning views of the city—except, perhaps, from the top of the tower itself. The hike up the mountain is steep, but can be done in about 15 minutes by a reasonably fit person. The less-than-perfectly fit need not worry though: there are plenty of lookouts and benches along the way.
No. 379號, Section 4, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Woolloomooloo’s quirky name was sourced from a town in Australia, as are the coffee beans used to make its signature “flat white” coffee drink (served in a glass, Aussie style). Opened by a Taiwanese-Australian architect, this popular eatery offers a solid menu of Western dishes in an industrial-chic space. Though it’s called a “cafe”, Woolloomoolo is more communal canteen than intimate coffee shop, boasting long wooden butcher tables and steel-clad walls. Though its menu includes staples such as pizza and pasta that are found in almost all of the many Western-style cafes throughout the city, Woolloomoolo stands out from the pack through specialties like Aussie meat pie and Greek moussaka. Avoid the lunch rush on weekdays, when Woolloomoolo transforms into a sophisticated cafeteria, with crowds of nine-to-fivers squeezed around the tables to take advantage of the hearty lunch specials. Patio seating is also available at the Xinyi location, a perk rarely seen in Taipei eateries. When weather permits, enjoy a flat white made with imported Aussie beans while sitting in the sunshine. 886/(0)2-8789-0128 (Xinyi Store)
No. 18號, Alley 2, Lane 410, Minzu East Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491
“Most seafood restaurants in Taiwan have big fish tanks up front. People choose what they want to eat and the chef catches and cooks it. One minute, you see the fish, lobster, or crab in the tank; one minute later, it’s on your plate. Addiction Aquatic Development is a younger, cleaner, more modern restaurant, market, and bar that blends Taiwanese and Japanese styles. People dine in, but they also buy sauces, seasonings, and seafood to go. I’m old-fashioned and like to order the sashimi.” —KK Yeh
No. 297號, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Taiwanese-style shaved ice desserts (known as “bao-bing” in Chinese) consist of large bowls of finely shaved ice topped with a variety of sweets, including condensed milk, beans, jellies, and fresh fruit. For fifteen years, Ice Monster was a tiny open storefront hawking mango shaved ice on Taipei’s famous foodie destination, Yongkang Street. Its recent move to the trendy East District includes a thorough re-branding as well as a creative expansion of their menu. Although Ice Monster’s mango shaved ice is still a must-order, non-traditionalists will enjoy digging into their new innovative creations like taro and red-bean milk “avalanches”, or sampling a few of their handmade popsicles. My personal favorite is a tribute to Taipei’s most famous drink: a “deconstructed boba milk tea” made with milk tea shaved ice and served with tapioca “bubbles” on the side. 886/(0)2-8771-3263
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