Taiwan is a great place to visit on a holiday of any length – and it’s likely that one will end up in Taipei at some point during the journey. Choosing from amongst the innumerable hotels, hostels, guesthouses and other forms of accommodation in this major city can be something of a challenge, but let’s have a look at one option in particular: a relatively new establishment that offers contemporary comfort in a historic district.
HOTEL NAME: Caesar Metro Taipei (official site)
LOCATION: 167, Bangka Boulevard, Wanhua District, Taipei, Taiwan
CATEGORY: Four-star hotel
ROOM TYPE: Triple
DATES OF STAY: 12-15 September 2019
As one might expect of a large city in a modern, industrialised economy, Taipei has a veritable buffet of accommodations to choose from with every style, type, and budget represented. For example, on a previous Taiwan holiday several years ago, I was able to secure low-priced accommodations in a hostel near Taipei Main Station. Earlier during that same visit, I spent one night in a full-service hotel – right in the same building (just on a different floor).
Back then, I was paying for myself and working with a tight budget. On this occasion, we were on a family holiday paid for (almost) entirely by my parents – which meant a larger war chest to hunt hotels with.
Although there were tempting prospects amongst the hotels near Taipei Main Station, I found a new and smart-looking alternative in another part of the city, down south in the historic Wanhua district.
The slightly off-centre location gave me pause at first, but my doubts were soon dispelled by a closer look at the neighbourhood. To start, there were good transportation links with two railway stops close by: Wanhua Station (TRA West Coast Line) right underneath the hotel building, and Longshan Temple Station (MRT Bannan Line) about two blocks north. The wider area was spiced with several noteworthy attractions, including Taipei’s famous Longshan Temple and the historic brick buildings of Bopiliao. As for the rest of the usual suspects – Taipei 101, Ximending, the National Palace Museum, the city’s ever-popular night markets and its impressive zoo and all the rest – you’ll find that Taipei’s trains and buses and taxis are more than capable of bridging the gap.
Although some distance away from Taipei Main Station – and from the railway line that serves Taoyuan International Airport – the hotel was easily reached via a private transfer service booked ahead of our arrival. For the homeward journey, we simply arranged another airport transfer through the hotel’s concierge. (More information on the available means of access, both public and private, can be viewed on the hotel’s website.)
After a smooth and uneventful journey from the airport across Taipei’s intricate network of motorways, our van pulled up at the main entrance of a soaring, silver-grey building.
Welcome to the Caesar Metro Taipei.
Incidentally, for those driving their own cars, the hotel has a parking building located across the street. From there, a sheltered footbridge will take you over the busy Bangka Boulevard and straight to the hotel.
Let’s check in. And whilst we’re here, let’s spare a few moments to gawk at the hotel’s public spaces.
Not bad. A touch of luxury in the right places, but with admirable restraint. No attempt to smother guests with gold and faux Baroque trimmings: just contemporary elegance and curated concessions to traditional culture.
And couches. Quite comfortable ones.
The hotel has another entrance facing Bangka Boulevard. Leaving from that door, one only has to turn left and walk straight down the pavement a short distance to reach Wanhua Station. There’s also a convenience store in the station lobby – one of several in the neighbourhood – so stocking up on basic supplies won’t require a long slog.
So much for the public areas. Let’s head up to the guest zone.
The lift lobby and corridors on our floor sported a rich palette of dark colours. Quite the contrast to the blazing white of the main lobby and the brightness of the room interiors.
Right, let’s get settled in.
Tap of the card and straight through the door. Here’s our triple room.
I liked how the room was designed as an actual triple, with three equally kitted out beds – not the two real beds and the badly disguised rollaway of your typical twin-room-masquerading-as-a-triple. Granted, the third berth lacked a bedside table with lamp and clock and other accessories, but at least it had power points next to the headboard.
The room was fitted with a deep drawer containing your usual tea-and-coffee equipment, along with packages of dry snacks. Underneath the drawer was a small refrigerator stocked with beverages.
The best part? Complimentary minibar. That’s right: we poured out the soft drinks and munched on the snacks to our hearts’ content, with fresh supplies brought in daily and no extra charge imposed on check-out. No fussing about with inflated price lists or nipping out to the shops in the middle of the night for a beverage.
Now for the room’s personal hygiene facilities.
The usual elements of the typical hotel bathroom were cleverly deconstructed and dispersed, which allowed for flexibility in using the shared facilities. To start, the sink and mirror were out in the corridor, along with a well-stocked chest of amenities.
The shower and bathtub were in one compartment, next to the sleeping area. Note that the shower’s been fitted above the tiled floor – not over the tub – so expect the room to get wet every time someone washes down.
Finally, there’s the toilet in a separate cubicle one door down (closer to the room entrance). Japanese-style built-in bidet with push-button controls.
What this means for a posse of three is that Occupant #1 can brush their teeth whilst #2 soaks in the tub and #3 sits on the, er, throne. All at once. No arguments over being locked out of the privy if someone’s taking a shower … unless, of course, two or three want to use the same facility at the same time.
All nice and convenient – but there’s a catch.
You’ll note that the toilet and bath areas were fitted with frosted glass doors.
Strangely enough, the places I stayed at during my previous Taiwan holiday (a hostel and a full-service hotel) also had glassed-in bath facilities. Not entirely sure why that’s a “thing” in this part of the world, but there it is. In any event, one should be aware that even though the frosted surface will conceal most, er, details, privacy is less protected here than in your more solidly walled bathroom. I also observed that the rubber seal along the hinge side of each door wasn’t quite flush with the frame, leaving a very small gap through which the views were, shall we say, unimpeded. Whether all this poses any difficulty to the occupants will depend on their relationship and level of comfort with each other, and it might be necessary to make special arrangements amongst themselves (such as agreeing not to linger in the corridor whilst someone is doing their business).
Just inside the entrance-way was a bit of closet space – though lacking a door, it couldn’t really be called a proper closet. We found room slippers stashed in a small opening near the floor, with robes stowed neatly up on the shelf above the hangers.
Breakfast – which may or may not be included in your rate – is served buffet-style in a spacious restaurant on the 5th floor. I didn’t take photographs, but I can tell you that the selection was quite large and varied, with both Asian and Western cuisines well represented.
We didn’t take advantage of the hotel’s gym or pool, but they’re listed amongst the available facilities on its official website.
So, shall we have our verdict then?
Relatively new hotel in a good location, with easy access to public transport and within walking distance (or a short taxi ride) of a few well-known Taipei landmarks. Clean and comfortable room; complimentary minibar and full range of amenities. Good breakfast buffet (but check if you’ve booked a rate that includes it or if you need to pay extra). Reasonable price for everything we got – though needless to say, value-for-money is a matter of personal judgement.
Yep, it’s all in there – and for that I’m happy to declare that I was very pleased with our short stay at this fine hotel.