Taipei: A Design Lover’s Guide to Taiwan’s Capital

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Taipei: A Design Lover’s Guide to Taiwan’s Capital

Taipei, Taiwan, is nothing short of an aesthetic dream. With its dramatic landscapes and lush vegetation, there’s a reason Taiwan got its nickname island formosa, or “beautiful island”, when the Portuguese came across it in the 16th century. Decades later, the island’s capital is still worthy of the name, even though it is now full of soaring buildings, age-old temples and modern-day wonders. Don’t worry: Taipei may be a bustling urban metropolis, but you’ll still find that Taiwan’s capital has no shortage of green nature among its built wonders. The city is full of captivating architecture and design, and below you can see A.D‘s guide to the must-see places in Taipei.

Where to stay

Kimpton Da An Hotel

A suite in Kimpton Da An Hotel.

Photo: Hey!Cheese. Courtesy of Kimpton Da An.

Kimpton Da An Hotel, which opened in 2019, is the boutique brand’s first foray into Asia. Designed by Shanghai-based Neri & Hu, the 129-key property was built with an urban sanctuary in mind, best showcased by the water installation in the lobby and the garden outside. As you walk around, you’ll find that many of the elements are drawn from Taiwanese architecture and culture, such as the thin white tiles that line the guest room bathrooms; decorative vintage window grilles; mini rice cooker-shaped containers that hold the bar’s coffee pods; and benches at the entrance of your room to remove your shoes, a customary practice when entering a house. Accommodation is cozy and largely neutral, except for copper details and a forest green colored wall. For extra space, choose a suite with a separate living area and an elongated stone bathroom, complete with a deep soaking tub, that nods to the country’s Japanese influence. Be sure to stop by the hotel’s restaurant, The Tavernist, where you’ll find a creative menu inspired by chef James Sherman’s travels.

Play Design Hotel

Don’t be put off by its bland facade; if you want to channel your creative side, Play Design Hotel will do just the thing. Tucked away on the fifth floor of a residential building, this five-room hotel is unlike anything else in the city. Guests have the option to either customize their room by choosing 10 pieces of furniture to decorate their temporary accommodation or choose one of the pre-assembled accommodations. This boutique property is also set apart with its dedication to exclusively highlighting the work of Taiwanese designers. You’ll find pieces that embody everything from modern reinterpretations of traditional techniques, sustainable and eco-friendly philosophies, unique technological features and creations made for compact living. And if you fall in love with a particular item, you might be able to take it home, depending on availability, or you can stop by the hotel’s shop for other design-forward trinkets. While you’re here, be sure to stop by Play Design Salon, a quirky space that combines antiques from the hotel that originally occupied the building with contemporary objects. This space also serves as a cafe on weekends.

What to see and do

With a beautiful mix of old and new architecture, there is a lot to see in Taipei. In terms of historical sites, the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is Taiwan’s most prominent landmark, as it was built in honor of their first president. Inspired by Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, the structure uses white marble and is similarly decorated with a dark blue roof. There is also the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, which was built in honor of the man often referred to as the father of the Republic of China. And all over the city you’ll find ornate temples, including Lungshan Temple, arguably Taipei’s most famous, and Songshan Ciyou Temple, right outside the west entrance of Raohe Night Market.

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