(Elska x amba Taipei Zhongshan)
When I arrived at Taipei airport, all I wanted was a bed. I’d flown in from London via an out-of-the-way transit stop in Beijing, sapping my last iota of energy. I was going to be staying at amba Taipei Zhongshan, part of a small boutique hotel chain that I’d personally not heard of; but every Taipei guy I’d mentioned amba to sounded really impressed that we’d be staying there so my spirits were getting a boost on the ride to town from Taipei Taoyuan airport.
When I arrived in the lobby I was instantly revived by the cool design at reception and the buzz coming from the restaurant. It’s not that typical dull, tired afterthought found in many big chain hotels but rather a lively, stylish eatery frequented by locals rather than weary businessmen after a day of meetings. Suddenly all I wanted – no longer my bed – was to pop in the shower and then head out for a drink and a bite to eat. Even after more than 24 hours of travel in a narrow tube full of screaming babies and dreadful so-called food, Amba had the ability to bring me instantly back to life.
And there’s a lot more positive to say about amba than its buzz and style. Its location in Zhongshan was pretty much perfect. It’s a lively neighbourhood with plenty of shopping, eating and sightseeing possibilities, all set in a mix of modern buildings and historic districts. We shot Rhenz T in an older area a short walk from here; Mine H off the hugely atmospheric Chifeng Street to the west; Joseph W in a bustling market to the north; and Gemi Sakinu Z here too. Oh, and we ate at Ningxia Night Market a short walk away recommended by hotel staff- definitely a highlight of the trip!
The rooms were well thought out, with a massive amount of plug outlets, USB ports, and even an individual wifi access point (each room has its own for maximum speed). Each room also had individual art, creating a personal touch; and each floor’s landing had a lounge area with unique furnishings, with huge tables for playing games or having meetings and comfy sofas to lounge on.
Oh, and the breakfast – it was a lovely buffet with cold and hot, eastern and western, and some pretty decent coffee too. So good was it , including a reviving environment brought via the bright light streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows, that I was coming down early each morning to linger a long two hours sipping coffee, working on my laptop, and preparing for the day.
All I can say is that in the end I was sad to leave Taipei, and Amba was a big part of that. Like Lisbon of the previous issue, I can’t wait to come back here as a tourist, but not just for the city but for this hotel. Highly recommended.
P.S. The boy in the pic is Gemi Sakinu Z, shot in my room at amba!