1. Modern chic meets vintage cool
Taipei is a city where old meets new – where decades-old military dependents’ villages abut shimmering new condominium complexes and century-old temples sit between newly built high-rises. At the Kimpton Da An, every effort has been made to capture this unique spirit and style in a one-of-a-kind urban sanctuary amidst the quirky and intriguing lanes of Da’an district in Taipei. The lobby features a high-ceilinged atrium filled with natural light from above, and guests will notice tilework reminiscent of the façades of the surrounding apartment buildings and squat two-floor homes. Near the elevators leading to the upper floors are handcrafted pieces of metalwork that recall the old window frames of a bygone era of Taipei’s rich history. And beyond the lobby, to the rear of the building, an oriental garden complete with staggered ponds and lush greenery is lit by candlelight in the evening.
2. Focus on design
The hotel’s stunning design is the product of Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, the founding partners of Neri&Hu and Design Republic. Not only is this the first Kimpton hotel in Asia – it’s also the first hotel in Asia to feature interior design courtesy of this award-winning pair. Together, they have combed Taiwan’s urban history for inspiration, filling the spaces with bespoke furnishings. The carpet lining the hallways is called “jie”, the Mandarin word for street, because its patterns reflect the city’s old cobblestone styles. In the rooms themselves, which are pet-friendly, modern amenities are blended with the warmth of historic craftsmanship. Each standard suite features a small, round blue-and-white marble sitting table in the living area, an elegant accompaniment to the open-closet design. The attention to detail continues to elements such as the wooden massage tool – found in most every Taiwanese home – and the mini rice cooker ubiquitous islandwide. And then there is the signature Kimpton scent piped in through the vents – a soothing mix of green tea, citrus, cinnamon and pepper.
3. Embracing uniqueness
The service itself is a unique feature of the Kimpton Da An. Staff are actively encouraged to be their own true selves around the guests, making for a more conversational and familial atmosphere. There is a social aspect to the mornings and evenings in the lobby as well. Wake up to the Morning Kickstart (6.30am to 10am), which features complimentary coffee to go, energy bars and Taiwanese soy milk, an alternative to the traditional hotel breakfast buffet. From 5.30pm to 6.30pm there is an evening Social Hour, where guests from around the world are encouraged to mingle over complimentary glasses of red and white wine. In fact, the lobby bar operates on the honour system around the clock – the only Kimpton hotel in the world to have this feature.
4. Thoughtful cuisine
On the 12th floor is The Tavernist, a restaurant featuring modern fusion cuisine conceptualised by James Sharman, formerly of Noma. The food features ingredients handpicked from the burgeoning organic movement in Taiwan – taking advantage of the skill and know-how of local farmers. Some of the dishes, such as fried chicken with Japanese kelp dip (a nod to Taiwanese fried chicken) and the baked Alaska with taro ice cream (a tip of the cap to the fried taro balls available in Taiwanese night markets) are inspired by local cuisine. Ambience-wise, overhead lighting takes the shape of a pearl necklace, and the walls are designed to leave open space at the top and bottom, giving the feel of a dining experience that is both intimate and communal.
5. Location, location, location
The neighbouring Xinyi District in Taipei is known for its vertical retail experience, with an array of towering mall complexes. In Da’an, however, it’s all about horizontal shopping amidst the narrow lanes and alleys. Guests at Kimpton Da An are provided with a special map upon checking in that lays out three different bike routes that take visitors past the best food, sites and shops of the surrounding neighbourhood, including Da’an Forest Park, Raohe Night Market and the Jianguo jade market.
This article was originally published in the June 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine