Taipei was our 4th & final stop for this Taiwan summer trip. As we would be taking the train from Hualien to Taipei City, & only be in Taipei for 2 nights, I thought it would make sense to stay around Taipei Main Station. Staying near to the transport hub in the city certainly makes sense to save time & money since we would only be in Taipei for a short stay. With that in mind, my search for the “ideal accommodation” focused only on accommodations around Taipei Main Station. That sort of ruled minsu (homestay) out since it’s in the heart of a bustling city. Furthermore, as we already had taste of Taiwanese minsu in 2 places (Fangliao & Hualien), booking a hotel in Taipei would “balance” our accommodation list, given we had only stayed in 1 hotel so far (Taitung).
Initially, through recommendations of a few friends, we had decided on 1 of the CityInn hotels (the value hotel chain known for its cheery orangery exteriors). However, after we made a booking for CityInn, we found Hotel Relax 3 on the other side of Taipei Main Station more appealing, not only newer, but also for similar pricing, a stay at the hotel included daily breakfast. Fortunately, we could cancel the CityInn booking for free. Of course we did just that & confirmed the booking for Hotel Relax 3. It was certainly a wise choice made, here’s why. 🙂
1. Location 地点
Opened in 2013 by a husband-and-wife duo, the Hotel Relax group has 4 hotels under its name, all within close proximity to one another on the side of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Taipei Station store. Hotel Relax 3, opened in July 2015, is a mere 2-min walk from this large departmental store just in front of Taipei Main Station exit Z2 / Z4. Hence the hotel is strategically located close to Taipei’s transport hub where there are multiple transport modes – bus, train, several MRT lines & even the latest Airport MRT line. The hotel is also close to major tourist attractions such as Ximending, National Taiwan Museum, Ningxia Night Market etc. Needless to say, there are a myriad of shops, eateries, entertainment etc surrounding the hotel. I really love the convenience of staying in the heart of the city.
旅乐序集团是从2013年开始在台北营业，目前旗下共有四家饭店，全都坐落在台北车站外，新光三越台北站前店这一带。在2015年7约开业的旅乐序站前三馆从新光三越台北站前店步行仅需2分钟（台北车站出口Z2 / Z4），所以前往有多条捷运线，巴士转运站，火车以及最新的桃园国际机场捷运线都好方便。想去著名景点如西门町，国立台湾博物馆，宁夏夜市等，步行5至10分钟左右就行。饭店周边也有许多商店、餐厅、娱乐设施等。总之，住在市中心肯定是很方便的。
There is 1 thing to note about Taipei Main Station though. Because it is so huge with multiple transport connections, as well as 1 of the largest underground shopping malls in the city, you may find yourself spending at least 10 min within. From the MRT station to exit Z2 / Z4 (you need to climb stairs at 1 exit while the other is an elevator), we always took around 10-15 min before we could get out of the station. Of course, that’s no fault of Hotel Relax 3 😅. The hotel is slightly nearer to the Taoyuan Airport MRT as it is more of a straight road down. So be prepared for the maze within the huge Taipei Main Station, unless you don’t mind finding your way out of the station in the outdoors. 😉
不过，关于台北车站，有一点不得不提的是，因为它这么大，还是台北最大的地下购物街之一，从一个点到另一个点，常常都要花上至少10分钟。比如从捷运站到Z2 / Z4出口（一个需要爬楼梯，一个可以搭电梯），我们都需要走10到15分钟才能顺利离开车站。当然，这不是旅乐序站前三馆的错😅。饭店离桃园国际机场捷运线就比较近，因为只需一路直走就行。所以，选择住宿台北车站附近，就必须有这个心里准备会在车站里“兜”好一阵才能出站，除非你不介意在户外找路，😄。
2. Room 房间
After changing my booking to Hotel Relax 3, I got in touch with its management, hoping to work with them for a review on Trip101. To my pleasant surprise, the lady boss offered us a complimentary upgrade from the standard twin room we had booked to the first night in an elite twin room (as per pic above, 25 sqm), & second night in an executive triple room (as per pic below, 27 sqm). Not only that, we only had to pay for 1 night at the classic twin room rate. That was a really pleasant offer from her!
Treats aside, while the hotel boasts an all-black exterior with shiny letter ‘R’, including its lobby & hallways in the guest room floors, the rooms are elegantly furnished with white-washed walls. Not easy to keep an all-white room spick & span, but the housekeeping team did it very well. We also found a big bowl of welcome snacks placed on the round table, which the lady boss told us represented the favourite tidbits of every school-going kid in Taipei in the good old days. Lovely gesture by the management to welcome guests with yummy snacks that bring you down the nostalgic memory lane. 😉
From delicate touches like the uniquely designed window grilles and comical icons representing the toilet & shower, we could see the efforts made to plant little surprises in the room. In addition, I also like that white lighting was used in the rooms, as opposed to many hotels which prefer to use dim lights. Right next to the door is a full-length mirror, so we could do a quick check of how we looked before going out for the day.
The best part of staying in the comfortable rooms at any of the Hotel Relax group of hotels is, name cards are already inserted into the power slots of rooms to be occupied by guests before their arrival, so all guests will be able to enjoy a cool room upon entering. This thoughtful gesture was so different from what most other hotels have been practising, where they expect you to insert your key into the power slot on your own, then wait for the room to cool while you are inside. This is certainly a much welcomed gesture especially in hot summer days!
3. Breakfast 早餐
Although Hotel Relax 3 is housed in a building of its own, there is no restaurant within the 8-storey hotel. All guests from Hotel Relax 1, 2 & 3 have to go to Hotel Relax 2 for breakfast. Hotel Relax 2 is just diagonally across from Hotel Relax 3, as you can see from the above pic which I took from my executive triple room on the 6th floor. So it’s not much of a hassle at all given the proximity. Furthermore, guests are also asked during check-in their preferred breakfast slots (on an hourly interval). I guess this is an effective crowd control measure, so that we wouldn’t need to queue too long for a table at the restaurant.
This Taiwan trip is full of delicious hotel food, unlike my past 2 trips haha. Of course my statement applies to the scrumptious meals we had at Hotel Relax as well. The above pic only shows the semi-buffet spread, which is definitely not all that the restaurant had to offer. After we were ushered to our table, the staff told us we could help ourselves to the salad, fruits, finger food, juices & hot coffee/ tea, while waiting for the breakfast set to be served. On both mornings, we were served different sets: the first morning was french toast while the second morning was thick toast. Both came in a big portion served alongside fresh greens, egg, bacon, mushrooms/ tomatoes.
I really enjoyed breakfast while staying at Hotel Relax 3. Not only were the food delicious, but they also made sure we had a balanced diet with vegetables & fruits. Besides, just like other hotel staff we met throughout the stay, the staff at the restaurant were also friendly & customer-oriented.
4. Other food & beverages 其他餐饮选择
Despite not having an on-site restaurant in its own building, it wasn’t troublesome to find food or beverages out of the hotel, given Hotel Relax 3 is close to many cafes & restaurants. In fact, there is an awesome casual Italian restaurant, Tutto Fresco at the ground floor of Hotel Relax 2. All Hotel Relax guests were entitled to 10% off the total bill at Tutto Fresco, which effectively means we could enjoy free service without paying for the 10% service charge. 🙂 We had a wonderful lunch here upon arrival in Taipei, thanks to the lady boss’ arrangement. Read more about it in this post. 😉
While the usual coffee & tea sachets are provided for us to make our own hot beverage in the room, hotel guests could also redeem a complimentary cup of blend coffee daily at the reception. Using coffee beans from Julius Meinl, an established Vienna coffee & tea brand established since 1862, Hotel Relax is proud to be 1 of only three hotels in Taipei where guests can enjoy such premium coffee. Just present the coffee coupon found together with your room key to the reception. Non-hotel guests need to pay 70 TWD (~S$3.25) for the fresh cup of coffee. If you prefer to enjoy the Cafe Latte, Cappuccino or Organic Tea, just top-up a nominal 20 TWD (~S$0.95) instead. There is a cool lobby lounge behind the reception where we could chill & slowly sip the aromatic coffee, but both times we chose to take back to our room due to time constraint.
此外，除了客房提供宾客咖啡茶包以外，凭着与房卡夹在一起的咖啡卡，客人也可以每天到柜台享用免费的维也纳Julius Meinl上等咖啡。Julius Meinl是维也纳一个成立与1862年，历史悠久的咖啡品牌。旅乐序集团很荣幸能成为全台北三家饭店之一，能品尝到老字号咖啡的地方。非饭店住客需要付台币70元才能品尝。如果想喝咖啡拿铁、卡布奇诺或花茶类的饮料，住客只需付台币20元就能品尝了。在柜台后面就有一个蛮酷的休息室，可以坐在那里细细品尝优质咖啡。不过，我们没时间坐在那儿，带回客房也👌。
5. Service 服务
All hotel staff that we met throughout our stay, be it at the reception, housekeeping or restaurants, were extremely approachable & friendly. Besides, they were also proficient in at least 1 other language other than Mandarin, as I overheard them speaking in English to other non-Chinese speaking guests. The lady boss told me there were staff who could speak Japanese or Korean too. Whenever we approached the reception for help, they would promptly come to our assistance & provide us with local tips.
The hotel also provides free delivery of a wide variety of Taiwanese delicacies, such as Sun Cake, Pineapple Tarts from famous shops, so guests do not need to go all the way out just to buy a particular souvenir. Definitely makes it much more convenient for guests with this nice gesture!
Overall, I really enjoyed the stay at Hotel Relax 3. It is so conveniently located in the heart of the city, yet once we step into the room, it’s so peaceful & comfortable we could relax all the way. Truly a hotel stay that lives up to its name. I’d be more than happy to return to the Hotel Relax chain of hotels for my next Taipei trip! 🙂