Taiwan is unquestionably one of the Orient’s “undiscovered” jewels. Compact in size, its mountainous centre is fringed by a beautiful coastline with white sandy beaches. Its main gateway is Taipei City, just over an hour’s flight from Hong Kong. In what is possibly the finest location in Taipei City, in Xinyi district, beneath the towering Taipei 101, sits the Grand Hyatt Taipei. Newly refurbished at a cost of US$100 million, the hotel offers up 853 new rooms and suites, each finished to the highest standard. Guest rooms are toned in muted greys with natural wood accents and reflect extraordinarily good taste. Many have stunning views of Taipei 101, a constant reminder of the splendour of one of the most beautiful buildings anywhere in the world.
The Grand Club, occupying two upper floors, is an exclusive boutique hotel within the hotel. Guests there enjoy personalised service and have access to the Grand Club Lounge, which serves complimentary breakfast, all-day tea and coffee and evening cocktails. There are no fewer than 10 restaurants and bars scattered throughout the Grand Hyatt Taipei. High tea is served every afternoon in the Chia Lounge, while in the Pearl Liang Restaurant master chefs prepare all manner of dim sum dishes as well as the freshest seafood, taking advantage of Taiwan’s incredible ocean bounty. My favourite dining spot had to be Irodori, a buffet-style Japanese restaurant where elaborate and authentic dishes are prepared in an open kitchen before your eyes. Mountains of large crabs sit next to king prawns, tempura and sushi. Guests may take advantage of the meet-and-greet and limousine service from Taoyuan Airport. A shiny black BMW 7-Series will whisk you through the city traffic and deliver you to the hotel, where you’ll be welcomed with typically friendly Taiwanese hospitality. The Grand Hyatt Taipei, then, is a great hotel and a restful haven to return to after your days and evenings exploring all this lovely city has to offer. – Mark Llewellyn