F Shangri-La, living the Far Eastern luxury in Taipei - jeepneyjinggoy

Shangri-La, living the Far Eastern luxury in Taipei

Framed "artwork" of Taipei 101 & the city at the Horizon Club Lounge

I knew it was a long shot that I’d end up staying in a luxury hotel in Taipei, but on the third day in the city I was in one. One dressed in classic Oriental chic reminiscent of the Sung dynasty.

The seated Kwanyin, an Oriental appointment at the lobby

It was a busy day at the Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel lobby when I arrived. But on my turn for check-in, I was immediately whisked off to the 36th floor to a more private and personalized reception at the Horizon Club Lounge. There I sat sipping coffee by a picture window that frames the Taipei 101 while waiting for my room keys.

The Horizon Club Lounge's team

Maybe I wished really hard because the spacious with high ceiling and exquisitely-appointed corner room I was ushered to also had the image of the city’s tallest tower jutting form the skyline set in one of the three large windows. In fact, it was what I woke up to as the morning light seeps into the room and the sight that lulls me to sleep at night. It was a very homey space.

My Taipei home for two moonshines, a Premier Room

I woke up to this...

...and it kept me company while I worked

The 43-story tower of luxury I was in was the most celebrated in Taiwan when in opened in 1994. Shangri-La, the chain’s first property in Taiwan, soared above the Taipei’s landscape as the tallest hotel in the capital city.

Taipei's tower of luxury

Today, more than two decades after, the Shangri-La rooftop, where the highest pool in Taipei is, still affords a breathtaking panorama of the capital as it did more than two decades ago.

Breathtaking panorama from the rooftop heated pool, the highest in the city

A panoramic view of the city from the rooftop of Shangri-La

The face of Taipei may have changed with a taller structure in place, but Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel is still one edifice many look up to. It maintains its status as one of Taipei’s most luxurious hotels after 22 years in the business. In the hospitality arena where competition is stiff, this is no small feat.

Oriental appointments by the lobby

To stay on top, Shangri-La adapts with the changing times, the needs and comfort of its growing clientele included. Thus, recently, the hotel completed a NT$ 1.5 billion (approximately US$ 50 million) renovation program in May 2015, upgrading all 420 guestrooms, including 37 suites, all with picturesque views of the Taipei skyline, with some showcasing Taipei 101; the Horizon Club Lounge; lobby; driveway as well as Lobby Court and The Cake Room.

The Presidential Suite

I could live here. The living area of one of the hotel's suites

The hotel's main entrance

The sweet suite-The Cake Room

“The refurbishment is in keeping with the hotel’s elegant surroundings that have warmly welcomed guests since 1994,” shared Gloria Wu, director of communication for Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel.

Grand in Oriental chic, the lobby of Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel

Custom artwork created for the property includes “Along the River during the Qing Ming Festival”, an installation depicting the ancient capital of Kaifeng by famous Taiwanese artist Shen Cheen. It stretches across two silk scrolls, each measuring 7.2 by 1.68 meters and frames the reception area embellished with natural amazonita gemstones and equally stunning art inspired by classical Sung dynasty pieces.

Custom artwork created for the property- “Along the River during the Qing Ming Festival”

Taipei is a gastronomic paradise and guests need not leave the premises to bask on various cuisines. The hotel offers Shanghainese cuisine at the Shanghai Pavilion and Cantonese at the Shang Palace; modern Italian at the Marco Polo Restaurant; a Michelin star resto, ibuki by TAKAGI KAZUO, serving Japanese; and a mélange of cuisines served buffet style at Café at Far Eastern.

The entrance hallway of Shang Palace

The Marco Polo Lounge

My favorite area at the Cafe at Far Eastern - the dessert area

Japanese sensibility. A private dining room at ibuki By Takagi Kazuo

Shopping? The Mall with an array of luxury brands is annexed to the hotel, or within walking distance is the Tong Hua Night Market, which features various local street food and goods.

The Mall is annexed to the hotel

Surprise! The Mall carries the different lines of my favorite Japanese designer

If you need to explore further, not far are the popular sites, such as the city’s landmark Taipei 101 building, Sun Yat-sen Memorial HallSongShan Creative Park and the beautiful Da-an Park.

After a day of touring the city, enjoy more of the hotel’s facilities. Take a dip on any of the two pools or visit the Health Club for the dry sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, if you’re not up to burning a few more calories at the state-of-the-art pumping machines before heading to the Qi Shiseido Salon and Spa for a pampering therapy to end a long day.

Hit the gym or the steam room at the health club

Me? I basked in the luxurious comforts of my room, dined in a restaurant with a Michelin-starred chef, had breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails at the Horizon Club lounge with Taipei 101 to keep me company, shopped at the mall next door and had a relaxing massage at Qi on my last night in the city. It was a wish granted.

My Japanese encounter in Taipei was oishi

Eggs Benedict for breakfast at the Horizon Club Louge. Fuel for the day.

And the evening cocktails at the Horizon Club Lounge was a great way to unwind at the end of the day

Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel is situated at the heart of the city’s flourishing business Da-an district and is an integral part of the Taipei Metro Complex. Situated on the fashionable tree-lined Tun Hwa South Road, the hotel is convenient five minutes from the Taipei World Trade Convention and Exhibition Center, 15 minutes from Taipei Songshan Airport and 45 minutes from Taoyuan International Airport. Two Mass Rapid Transit stops are located within walking distance, while a main bus stop is right outside the hotel.

Visit their website at www.shangri-la.com/taipei/fareasternplazashangrila

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com and http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com.

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.