amba Taipei Ximending is hip, trendy, and dedicated to placing a spotlight on the environment and Taiwan’s local artists
WRITTEN BY VIDA GABE
PHOTOS COURTESY OF AMBA TAIPEI XIMENDING AND VIDA GABE
THE WELCOME My introduction to amba Taipei Ximending was a visual feast for the eyes. Just outside the entrance was a beautifully laid-out picnic dining area, complete with low wooden crate tables, colorful blankets, and plush pillows strewn across a green carpet that looked like grass from afar. The inviting space, we were told, was new—an initiative that the hotel was trying out to attract more customers looking for a respite from the summer heat. The entire set-up was quirky and charming and, as I was soon to find out, the ideal introduction to learning about amba’s creative DNA.
THE ROOM Although amba Taipei Ximending opened its doors back in February 2012, the hotel still feels fresh and new, not just because everything has clearly been well-maintained since its opening but also because every effort has been made to cater to the modern traveler.
One of the hotel’s best-selling points is its commitment to connectivity. amba Taipei Ximending delivers on this promise with complimentary high-speed WiFi in the rooms (and common areas) and a smart TV that allowed me to access my Netflix account. There were also numerous universal power outlets, strategically placed by the bedside table and elsewhere in the room.
The hotel is also committed to conservation. This was evident in the eco-conscious sign in my bathroom (gently reminding me to conserve toilet paper) and in the use of eco-friendly materials all throughout—from painted tin drums (which served as a side table), recycled plywood floors, natural unbleached linen sheets, organic cotton towels, and flip flops made from ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) green material.
THE FOOD During our stay, our group had two scrumptious meals. The first was dinner at the dressed up outdoor space we saw when we first entered the building. The menu was pulled from Western cuisine (think salad, pizza, pasta, and beer) and our group thoroughly enjoyed every single dish served at our table.
The second meal was breakfast at chiba restaurant. Here, I got to try their custom- made fresh rice roll, which was delicious and filling and the perfect way to start my day.
THE SCENE The hotel is located in Ximending, one of the most visited spots in Taipei and best known for being a shopping and entertainment district. Guests who like to be in the middle of everything will find themselves directly immersed in the history and vibrancy of the neighborhood even if they haven’t stepped a foot out of the building. That’s because the hotel is situated on the upper floors of the swanky Eslite shopping complex, which is home to international brands such as M.A.C. and Muji. The hotel itself used to be part of an old department store and the converted space retains some of the old design features. But no one entering the hotel now would mistake it for a drab, old shop. Instead, the hotel interiors channel the pulsing energy of the scene outside.
Step out of the building and at once you’re caught up in hip and trendy Taipei. Venture down one direction and you’ll find yourself passing by entire blocks of cinema houses, take a few steps in another direction and suddenly you’re in the middle of a glorious mix of curbside restaurants, food stalls, and souvenir shops all hawking their wares to locals and tourists alike. It’s an intoxicating experience of sights, sounds, and wonderful flavors that’s altogether hard to forget.
ON MY OWN Another impressive offering of the hotel is its self-service laundry room—complete with a washer, a dryer, and laundry detergent—all free of charge to guests. This is an amenity you won’t typically find in many hotels (which usually have costly laundry service) so this was something I really appreciated.
WHAT I LOVE BEST There are a lot of things to appreciate about amba Taipei Ximending—from its convenient location, to the super cool social spaces, to the great food—but what I admire most about this hotel is its dedication to showcasing the creativity of Taiwan’s local artists. At the lobby, one side serves as a spot for a regularly rotating exhibit of masterpieces by Taiwanese artists, while another hosts a lounge space where guests can listen to local music entertainers in the evening. Inside my room, there were also local snacks, locally-made postcards, and bath amenities made from local ginger by a socially responsible Taiwanese brand. I liked the bath products so much, I bought myself a bottle of shampoo from the lobby’s gift shop. I also received a small discount as a hotel guest!
THE VERDICT Designed for eco-conscious travelers with an eye for design and an appreciation for connectivity, amba Taipei Ximending is a hotel that understands its own audience and is smart enough to meet its needs. It’s also a brand that proudly owns its identity, which makes it ideal for travelers looking for a place that’s modern and world-class but still has that local flavor that makes you feel connected to the culture.