When I learned that The Netherlands based Kröller-Müller Museum was bringing over a hundred of Van Gogh’s works for a limited run at the National Museum of History in Taipei, I just knew we had to make that trip to Taiwan. Right away I tried to purchase show tickets online but the website was in Chinese and using Google translate only yielded laughable results! Not having travelled to Taiwan before, I was quite ready to abandon all plans since we just didn't want to go through all the trouble of getting visas uncertain about whether we would get to see the show at all. Learning that the airport was an hour away from Taipei’s center and that most of the signs there were in Chinese only added to my trepidation.
In a last ditch effort and after going through hotel reviews here at Tripadvisor, I emailed the Shangri-la Far Eastern Hotel if they could possibly help me with securing our show tickets. And immediately, I got a reply from Mr. Nick Tung of Shangri-la Far Eastern that yes, they would be most happy to buy our tickets for us and that I even had the option of just charging these to my room. We were ecstatic! But days after and before we could go on our trip, Taipei was hit by a sandstorm. I monitored air quality in Taipei through the EPA site but it was again Mr. Tung who I relied on for prompt updates (replying within an hour at times) and who eventually advised me that the air has cleared in Taipei a few days before we boarded our plane.
Upon arrival at the Taouyan Airport we were met by Shangri-la’s iconic guy in the red suit, bearing the hotel placard and the biggest smile! We rode our respective BMW limos (an optional service for NTWD 2,400 airport-hotel-airport) and the hour long ride didn’t feel like an hour at all. There were drinks, treats, international magazines and newspapers on board, even a menu to choose your music channel.
The Shangri-la Far Eastern is located alongside The Mall which houses a handful of international retailers, a grocery and some restaurants. The hotel lobby is grand enough but the rooms can do with some refurbishing. I got a rather small superior room while my sister and her kids got the bigger deluxe room. Somehow, the rooms looked much better on their website and the sofa in the room my sister paid big bucks for was uneven and uncomfortable, obviously from wear and tear. The TVs were also small compared to those being currently used by other hotels and were so awkwardly positioned in the rooms that viewing was less than a delightful experience. While trying to get a power nap, I also heard odd sounds from the floor above (not sure if it was the plumbing or furniture being moved around). It was a good thing, however, that internet access was free. The hotel was also relatively close to our intended destinations, Taipei 101 and the National Museum of History.
The hotel is also within walking distance of a Hello Kitty store my niece so enjoyed and a great Thai restaurant that we frequented during our stay. We had buffet breakfast at the hotel everyday (at an additional cost) and ate at their Japanese restaurant as well but found the food to be unremarkable. My sister also had the scare of her life when the hotel elevator she was riding with a Taiwanese music teacher got stuck for some 7 minutes. When the hotel’s elevator crew finally got her out of the elevator, he was kind enough, though, to escort my sister back to her room. That incident, however, made me think even more that the Shangri-la Far Eastern needed serious improvement in the maintenance department.
But whatever were the Shangri-la Far Eastern’s shortcomings, its staff made up for them big time! I bought a Van Gogh souvenir lamp and had a front desk staff translate to English an entire page of instructions written in Chinese. Everyone in the hotel was just really nice, attentive and genuinely happy to help. We’re already planning to go back to Taiwan early next year and will most probably stay in the Shangri-la again.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.