Taipei Day 1 – Hsuan Mei Hotel

After all that shopping we finally headed to Taipei city, which was an hour away, to check in at our hotel.
Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-7

On the way to the hotel while still in Taoyuan district we were fascinated with these small, seemingly empty stores with scantily clad girls. I asked Benjie what they were selling. He replied, “nga nga.” What? Nga nga, I learnt, was the Filipino term for betel nut. Taiwanese people loved to chew betel nuts.

From Wikipedia : Areca nuts are chewed with betel leaf for their effects as a mild stimulant, causing a mild hot sensation in the body and slightly heightened alertness, although the effects vary from person to person. The effect of chewing betel and the nut is relatively mild and could be compared to drinking a cup of coffee. 
betel nut beauties

Benjie called these ladies “nga nga girls” but after some research I learnt that they were called betel nut beauties. Benjie said they used to dress in even more revealing outfits until the government stepped in. There must have been lots of car accidents. For more pictures click here. A documentary of these betel nut beauties was also made. They also sold cigarettes, water and soda on the side.

betel nut beauties

There were a lot of stands like this in Taipei city but the ladies were all dressed in boring jeans and t-shirts. Some were even manned by old men.
betel nut beauties

I caught a girl in action. Did the driver just honk his horn?
betel nut beauties

Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-5

After all that roadside excitement we finally arrive at our hotel. I chose Hsuan Mei hotel from the reviews on tripadvisor and The location was very convenient. The MRT was a 15 minute walk away and taxi going to Taipei 101 was NT$150.
Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-7

It was a small boutique hotel that was very clean.
Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-8

Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-9

We chose the cheapest room which was the standard suite. We first booked the room through their site but they didn’t have vacancy for some nights. When we checked the same nights were available. We finalized our reservation on which gave us a better deal. Our room cost US$88 a night inclusive of all taxes and charges. It included daily breakfast too.

The room was small but we weren’t disappointed. It was really like the pictures on their web site. The room and bathroom was very clean. The sheets, duvet cover and towels were changed daily.

The light and temperature controls were accessed through a Chinese language touchscreen control box on top of the night table between the two beds. It was a guessing game every time I used it.
Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-11
standard suite

The view from the window was a fly over but you can’t hear any noise from the traffic.
room view

Rochelle’s son and Benjie’s daughter enjoying the small couch where my luggage remained for the whole trip.
Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-12

There were free bottles of water, sports drink and iced tea (but our room had water only and I kept forgetting to complain), crackers, tea and coffee that were refilled daily. There was free wi-fi but the signal was non-existent from inside the room. I had to stand in my open doorway to check my email or sit in the lobby. Warning about the tv. Aside from the local and international channels there were two extremely adult channels that couldn’t be blocked.
Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-13

Even though the bathroom was small it was very modern and had a hi-tech shower system. Our only major pet peeve was the lack of towel bars or hooks. There was only 1 hook behind the door and we were extremely thankful for that. The towels were hidden in the cabinet under the sink.
Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-14

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Whenever I saw a room being cleaned I went in to take pictures. Here are pictures of their other suites. The other rooms were much roomier but the bed sizes remained the same.
Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-19
Executive Suite

Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-20

Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-24

Wow a jacuzzi tub w/ tv!
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Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-22

Even the toilet was hi-tech!
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I liked this room with wood flooring.
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Just off the lobby and the dining room was the business center which was open the whole day and had several computers with internet access. These were all free to use.
Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-28

Hsuan Mei Hotel Taipei-29

I recommend this hotel. It would have been nice to have some stores nearby but it wasn’t bad at all since my cousins picked us up most of the time. Taxis were also available outside the hotel. We took a taxi to the airport and it cost NT$900. That’s the standard charge.

Hsuanmei Boutique Hotel
No.52, Section 1, Jianguo North Rd, 
Jhongshan District Taipei City, 104
telephone: (02)87713066

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