I must admit that when choosing travel accommodations, I have been, as of late, forming a distinct bias in favor of serviced apartments in the most convenient locations. They don’t cost as much as hotels but you get basic hotel-style amenities. Well, not room service but that’s okay.
In Taipei, we stayed at Taipei Inn which was just across the street from the Taipei Main Station. And right beside the building were Qsquare, a shopping mall, and the Taipei Bus Station.
It was the perfect spot. Take the elevator to the ground floor of the building, turn right and there was the escalator to Taipei Main Station. If you turn toward the opposite direction, you reach Taipei Bus Station. We were literally in the center of Taipei.
Comfortable room with amenities
And the room?
Generously-spaced lodgings (33 square meters) with a kitchenette and dinette, a good-sized TV with cable channels. The room was cleaned and tidied up daily. Supply of toiletries, drinking water, coffee and tea was replenished everyday too.
The bathroom was modern. Very modern, actually, since it was equipped with a gadget (I don’t know the proper name for it) that allowed us to control the temperature and air ventilation inside the bathroom. Very useful, it turned out. Turning the heat up after bathing dried the bathroom floors and walls faster.
In the kitchenette were an electric kettle, a stove, mugs, bowls, spoons, forks, chopsticks, pot, frying pan and a small bottle of dishwashing liquid.
The room opened to a balcony that overlooked the courtyard below. And in the balcony was a washing machine and overhead steel rods for hanging newly-laundered clothes.
There was hot water supply in the bathroom, kitchenette and washing machine.
Now, that’s my idea of travel accommodation. Not just a space to crash at night but a place to unwind, rest the mind and relax leg muscles aching from the day’s sight-seeing and shopping.
We feasted in our room
There were times when we ate in because the queues at the restaurants, especially during the weekend, were horribly long. There were mornings when we got up late and there were nights when we returned to our apartment early, and we’d just buy food and eat while watching a movie.
There were food stalls on the ground floor of Qsquare that we especially liked. One of them sold packed meals, bento box style. Around 30 minutes before closing time, they sold everything for half the price. Buy one, take one.
Two stalls away was an outlet of Master Wang’s Bakery. We tried a slice of the sesame cake and we liked it so much that we flew home with two boxes of cakes from the bakery.
Between the bento meal seller and Master Wang’s Bakery was a stall called “hugdog” that sold Taiwanese sausage. I read later that Hugdog is owned by Black Bridge, a company (with a pretty interesting history and its own sausage museum) that has been making Taiwanese sausage for over 50 years.
While the sausages (yes, plural because the sausages came in several varieties) turned out to be superlative, what initially attracted us to the food at this stall was the creative ways that the sausages were served. I especially liked the sausage “sandwich” that, instead of bread, had glutinous rice shaped into a log to resemble a hotdog bun.
Nights with Taiwan Beer
Another Hugdog sandwich that we liked was mantao with Taiwanese sausage and pickled cabbage (the latter tasted like a milder sibling of the German sauerkraut). We had them with Taiwan Beer.
Yes, it’s Taiwan Beer, not Taiwanese beer. It’s a brand. We first tried it at the 89th floor Observatory of Taipei 101. When we bought tickets to the Observatory, we were given discount vouchers for the various products and services offered there. We opted for mango beer float that was lovely beyond words. The not-so-sweet mango sorbet floating on superbly flavored and full bodied bubbly beer.
Speedy noted the brand of the beer, found it at Jasons Market in the basement of Taipei 101 and we bought a can just for kicks. A couple of days later, at the Jasons Market Qsquare branch, I discovered mango-flavored and pineapple-flavored Taiwan Beer and decided to try both.
The mango-flavored Taiwan Beer was the one we liked best. Fruity but not so sweet. So refreshing.
I’ll reserve the story about the vegetable chips for another day.
Taipei Inn is at 16F.-6, No.205, Sec. 1, Civic Blvd., Datong District, Taipei.