Taipei: A Design Lover’s Guide to Taiwan’s Capital

Taipei, Taiwan, is nothing short of an aesthete’s dream. With its dramatic landscapes and lush vegetation, there’s a reason Taiwan was nicknamed ilha formosa, or “beautiful island,” when the Portuguese stumbled upon it in the 16th century. Decades later, the isle’s capital is still worthy of the name, though now it’s full of soaring buildings, centuries-old temples, and modern-day marvels. Don’t worry, though: Taipei may be a bustling urban metropolis, but you’ll still find that Taiwan’s capital has no shortage of verdant nature among its built wonders. The city is full of captivating architecture and design, and below you can see AD’s guide to the must-visit spots in Taipei.

Where to stay

Kimpton Da An Hotel 

A suite in Kimpton Da An Hotel.

Photo: Hey!Cheese. Courtesy of Kimpton Da An. 

Opened in 2019, Kimpton Da An Hotel is the boutique brand’s first foray into Asia. Designed by Shanghai-based Neri & Hu, the 129-key property was built with an urban sanctuary in mind, best exhibited by the water installation in the lobby and the garden outside. As you walk around, you’ll find that many of the elements have been drawn from Taiwanese architecture and culture, such as the thin white tiles that line the guest room bathrooms; decorative vintage window grills; mini rice-cooker-shaped containers that hold the mini bar’s coffee pods; and benches at the entrance of your room to remove your shoes, a customary practice when entering a home. Accommodations are cozy and largely neutral, save for brass details and a forest-green-hued wall. For added space, opt for a suite, which features a separate living area and an elongated stone bathroom complete with a deep soaking tub, harkening to the country’s Japanese influence. Make sure to stop by the hotel’s restaurant, The Tavernist, where you’ll find a creative menu inspired by chef James Sherman’s travels.

Play Design Hotel 

Don’t be disheartened by its drab facade; if you’re looking to channel your creative side, Play Design Hotel will do just the trick. Tucked away on the fifth floor of a residential building, this five-room hotel is unlike anything else in the city. Guests have the option to either customize their room by selecting 10 pieces of furniture to decorate their temporary abode or choose one of the pre-curated accommodations. This boutique property is also set apart with its dedication to exclusively highlighting the work of Taiwanese designers. You’ll find pieces that embody everything from modern reinterpretations of traditional techniques, sustainable and eco-friendly philosophies, unique technological features, and creations made for compact living. And if you fall in love with a particular item, you might be able to take it home depending on availability, or you can pay a visit to the hotel’s shop for other design-forward trinkets. While you’re here, make sure to stop by Play Design Salon, a quirky space that combines antiques from the hotel that originally occupied the building with present-day objects. This space also doubles as a café on the weekends.

What to See and Do

With a beautiful mix of old and new architecture, there’s plenty to see in Taipei. When it comes to historical sites, the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is Taiwan’s most prominent landmark, as it was built in honor of their first president. Inspired by Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, the structure uses white marble and is similarly adorned with a dark blue roof. There’s also the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, which was constructed in honor of the man who is often referred to as the father of the Republic of China. And all around the city you’ll find ornate temples, including Lungshan Temple, arguably Taipei’s most famous, and Songshan Ciyou Temple, right outside the west entrance to Raohe Night Market.