Last week I visited Taipei, Taiwan for the first time. It was a thirty-hour journey from my home in Canada to Taipei, so I knew that upon arrival, a standard hostel with dorm beds wouldn’t cut it. Instead, I went on the hunt for a hostel, or affordable hotel, with private rooms that would allow me to get a good night’s sleep after such a long journey.
After searching online for hours and reading tons of reviews, I booked in to Poshpacker Hotel, a hybrid hostel/hotel that is made up exclusively of private rooms with shared bathrooms. Some bloggers believe that Taiwan is one of the best destinations in Asia for solo travelers, so I wanted to make sure I was staying somewhere social where I could connect with other travelers. Overall I had a great stay, as I loved having my own little (affordable!) private room and the location couldn’t be beat.
Arriving at the Hostel
I arrived in Taipei in the early evening, and was impressed by how quickly I made it through customs and immigration at the Taoyuan International Airport.
You need local currency to buy a ticket into the city center, so use an ATM or money exchange in the arrivals hall of the airport. Then, follow the signs to the MRT station for Taipei City Center, where express trains depart (approximately) every fifteen minutes for the central subway station.
Purchase your ticket from the vending machines using the local currency. As the machine only accepts coins, you can insert a bill into the (free) change machine if necessary so that you have $150 NTD in coins. You’ll receive a purple token from the ticket machine – keep this, as you need it to exit at your destination.
The train ride itself takes just under forty minutes and deposits you directly at Taipei Main Station. From here, it’s easy to walk to Poshpacker Hotel by following the signs through the underground shopping malls towards the Z8 exit. Ascend the stairs and immediately double back (180 degree turn) to the corner with the fire hall. Don’t cross the street – just turn left and walk about three blocks down the street until you see Poshpacker Hotel. If you’ve walked more than five minutes on the street level, you’ve gone too far!
My Room at the Poshpacker Hotel
(This is an unbiased review that is not sponsored. I paid in full for my stay at Poshpacker Hotel and did not disclose to the hostel that I was a blogger.)
I made a reservation for a “Ladies Single Room with Window”. The website stated that all “ladies rooms” (I feel like I need to adjust my petticoat every time I type that) were located on the sixth floor and came equipped with a single bed, air conditioner, TV, mini fridge, safe, towels, slippers, bottled water and WiFi. Oh, and all “ladies rooms” have windows, unlike some of the cheaper single rooms on the lower, mixed-gender floors.
My room was exactly as described – larger than a capsule, but smaller than a traditional hotel room. There was space for my things on the counters and in the safe, and there were several hooks on the wall where I could hang my purse, towels and on-the-go clothing. There were two power outlets by my bed (the kind that fit US and European plugs) and two by the floor that I didn’t try using. I ran the air conditioner whenever I was in the room, as it was scorching during my July visit to Taipei.
The only downsides to my room were the fact that the window didn’t offer a great view (basically, it was just a wall across the alley) and the fact that the soundproofing could have been better (usually it was pretty quiet, but I could definitely hear when the people in the room next to me were having loud phone calls).
Poshpacker also has double and triple rooms, if you’re traveling as a couple or group of friends. Note that washrooms are segregated by floor, with men on the lower two levels and women on the upper two floors.
Facilities at the Poshpacker Hotel
None of the rooms at Poshpacker Hotel have private bathrooms. Instead, all guests share common bathrooms with sinks, showers and toilets. The toilets were a definite plus, as they had (programmable) heated seats and “fresh water rinses” (if you catch my drift). Inside each shower stall there was a caddy for your own toiletries, but you were also welcome to use the provided shampoo, conditioner and soap. On the counter, small baskets offered complimentary combs, shower caps and cotton swabs.
There is a rooftop lounge at Poshpacker Hotel, but I completely forgot to check it out (probably since it was upstairs and I didn’t feel like braving the feels-life-fifty-degrees heat to go up and check it out. Instead, I made a few visits to the basement lounge, where there were some tables and chairs, a long sofa and a bookcase with the beginnings of a multilingual book exchange. There were not proper cooking facilities, but I did notice a microwave.
Both the rooftop and the basement also had Taipei’s ubiquitous drinking water dispensers where you could fill your own bottle with cold, warm or hot drinking water.
The Poshpacker Cafe
Although Poshpacker Hotel advertises that they have a cafe, they definitely don’t. This was a disappointment for me, as I would have liked to do a little work online with a cup of coffee, without having to walk outside (again, that heat!). So, take note that the cafe isn’t just closed – it has been fully removed from the premises and I believe the space has been turned into the clothing store next door.
Fortunately, though, there are quite a few coffee shops and cafes in the area around the hostel, including one (Dante Cafe) right next store. I promise you won’t have to go far for your morning caffeine fix at Poshpacker Hotel!
What Else is Nearby
Poshpacker Hotel is in the Zhongzheng District, a busy business and transportation district that is adjacent to some of the city’s more popular entertainment and sightseeing districts. Personally, I was very happy to be staying here – the proximity to the MRT and the express train to the airport is ideal, and it’s a short walk or transit ride to nearly everything you’d want to see.
The streets around Poshpacker Hotel are full of local cafes where you can grab a bubble tea, milk tea or traditional coffee, along with plenty of convenience stores and a surprisingly number of (above-the-board!) massage parlours. There are dozens of traditional breakfast restaurants nearby that cater mostly to locals (though many have one battered old copy of an English menu) and you can walk ten minutes to the Zimending area for crazy nightlife and shopping. You’re also not far from the 228 Peace Park, which is where the free walking tour of Old Town Taipei begins (check the Feel Free Taipei website for details).
A Little Background Information
My original Taipei hostel booking wasn’t actually at Poshpacker Hotel. Originally, I’d booked a private room at the nearby Flip Flop Hostel, which (from the online photos) looked like it had a better social room layout and would create more opportunities to meet other travelers. However, several months after I made my reservation, Flip Flop Hostel sent me an email saying that I had to cancel my reservation (they didn’t even cancel it themselves!) because my dates overlapped with their air-conditioning repair?
When I checked their website I did see that they no longer had any availability for any Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday in July, but I just don’t believe that they would close for three nights every week for air conditioning repair. My guess is that a group has block-booked the entire hostel for those three nights all month, and they made up an excuse to kick out any travelers with an existing reservation. Either way, it wasn’t cool, they didn’t respond to my email asking for more information, and I would not recommend Flip Flop Hostel in Taipei.
Traveling to Taipei? Make sure to visit some of the city’s sprawling vegetarian and vegan buffets!