Taiwan, Travel Tips

Review: CityInn Hotel Plus Ximending – Getting 5-star service in a whimsical boutique hotel

If you have plans to visit Taipei, here’s a recommendation. Stay at City Inn Hotel Plus Ximending!

Forget that this little gem has comfortable, clean rooms that is just a hop, jump and cartwheel away from the Station 3 exit of the trendy Ximending district. Forget the whimsical designs, the art decorating the walls and the lifesized horse statue (lamp?) parked at the lobby. Forget its affordable rates, or that booking a room over the internet is easy.

Exit 3 of Ximending Station. Look for the bright orange sign and count to ten -- you're now at CityInn!

Exit 3 of Ximending Station. Look for the bright orange sign and count to ten — you’re now at CityInn!

…at the end of the day, prepare yourself for unrivaled customer service that surely must have been prevalent only on five-star establishments.

The first thing you’ll notice upon entering CityInn Hotel Plus Ximending, aside from the bright orange colors, is the wall of artwork…and yes, the horse:

lobby of CityInn Hotel Plus Ximending (photo coutesy of my sister's Instagram)

lobby of CityInn Hotel Plus Ximending (photo coutesy of my sister’s Instagram)

The shelf near the horse sells unique souvenirs that reflect the art visible through out the building. The items are both cute and functional, the perfect souvenir for the budding artiste in you.

If this won’t set you up for expectations that you are in for a very unique experience, then just wait until they start rolling out the virtual red carpet.

Okay, enough with the hyperbole — some basic realizations first:

1. Rooms are small but gets the job done. There is no closet, instead you will be provided with around 4 to 5 hangers. If you do not have the wardrobe of a famous celebrity, no problem. We booked for a twin room (for NTS 2,180 or about PHP3,270 per night) which came with two single beds, complete bathroom amenities and free munchies on the top drawer. There is a small fridge and free mineral water. The beds are super comfy. After staying at Keyman’s, where our backs were realigned no thanks to the rock-hard beds, the soft and comfortable mattress and pillows offered by CityInn were a welcome respite. We ended up oversleeping on our first night. A/C is okay and adjustable based on your preference. Room light is backlit so you don’t have to fumble through out the night as you look for a switch.

Twin Room at CityInn Hotel Plus. Comfy beds!

Twin Room at CityInn Hotel Plus. Comfy beds!

2. No breakfast provided. However, you can have your fill of coffee, tea or fruit juice for free on the basement floor. There are also two desk top PCs provided if you want to browse the internet. Wifi is available throughout the building. CityInn also offers free usage of the laundry machine, also located at the basement. No need to buy soap, it’s also available at the basement.

If you start craving for munchies or for breakfast, you can arrange for sandwiches to be delivered to your room, courtesy of the cafe nearby. Just place your order via the hotel reception and they’ll bring it up your room. Munchies (Doritos and veggie chips) are also placed on the top drawer. A small ref is also provided if you want to buy water, fruits, ice cream and other snacks from the nearby 711.

free munchies on the top drawer. menu for room service is on the left (breakfast only, 8AM to 11AM only)

free munchies on the top drawer. menu for room service is on the left (breakfast only, 8AM to 11AM only)

3. Bathroom amenities are provided and even includes sanitary pads in case emergency strikes. Inside the shower area, there’s a soap and shampoo dispenser. Hot water is of course, available.

nice shower!

nice shower!

complete bathroom amenities! there's even a hair dryer

complete bathroom amenities! there’s even a hair dryer

4. Walls can be a bit thin though. You can hear your neighbor going about, and during our stay — we can hear them turning on the shower. God forbid that you are rooming next to a pair of amorous teenagers. There’s also no window in the room so you have to make sure to always set your clock on time, especially if you have trips to neighboring counties.

Whatever this hotel lacks, they pretty much make up for it when it comes to customer service. The reception area is always very accommodating and easy to talk to, always helpful and willing to lend a hand. As we prepare for our trip back to Manila, we asked the front office if there’s a toilet in the first floor that we can use to freshen up and change clothes. They immediately pointed to the rest room located behind the front office area. Wash room is also clean and stocked with everything that you will possibly need: soap, lotion, a bidet and even a mouth freshener (especially if you had too much grilled squid or fish ball).

Our stay coincided with my sister’s 31st birthday. On the night before we left, we were at the basement eating and relaxing when two of the guys approached my sister and I. They were clutching a fluffy hat, oversized shades and a birthday cake for the dear sister:

my sister and I celebrating her birthday with one of the staff of CityInn

my sister and I celebrating her birthday with one of the staff of CityInn

The Queen with her birthday card from CityInn!

The Queen with her birthday card from CityInn!

My sister said it was one of her best birthdays, ever.

More than the birthday greeting, the staff of this hotel is truly one of the best. They are friendly and very helpful, warm and efficient and were good problem solvers. The treat guests as family and you can sense that they will truly bend over backwards just to please a guest or make their stay comfortable.

Information:

Address: No.63, Baoqing Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Tel: +886 (2) 7725-2288
Fax: +886 (2) 7725-2799
service4@cityinn.com.tw

NOTE: I paid for my stay at this hotel and no part of this trip was sponsored.

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Travel Tips

BPI ePrepaid Express Card: A Convenient Booking Tool (without the dreaded credit card bill!)

After marrying the hubby, one of the first things to go were my credit cards. Aware that budgeting is not one of my greatest skills, the hubby decided to cut-off and discontinue all my cards.

To quote, “I should learn to live according to my means.”

Unfortunately, a credit card is a very important tool for travel fiends like me — yes, even if I am pretty much always after a very good deal.

A few posts back, I insinuated about getting an ePrepaid card in order to fund my online purchases like plane tickets and hotel reservations. After a while, it gets pretty tiring asking people to book your tickets for you. After choosing between two banks, I figured that it’s better to get BPI since my savings and payroll account are both from the same bank. This lessens the hassle of transferring from one bank to another. I just log in using my Express Online account and voila! It’s locked and loaded and ready to use for online booking!

Booking to the CityInn Hotel Plus Ximending using my BPI ePrepaid

Booking to the CityInn Hotel Plus Ximending using my BPI ePrepaid

Applying for an express card is easy. In my case, I applied online by filling out the form available at the BPI Express website. . You will need to indicate the BPI branch nearest you where they will send the prepaid card after 5 days.

You will need to pay PHP500 while claiming the card — then if you have express online, apply it to said feature so that you can transfer money from your savings account to the debit card. This is what I did especially with the pressing need to find and book a hotel for the upcoming Taipei trip.

I already got the chance to use my ePrepaid Card when I chanced upon CityInn Hotel Plus on TripAdvisor. While I mentioned in one of my earlier post that I am partial to getting Keyman’s Hotel due to its proximity to Taipei Main Train station and to its marvelous Japanese rooms, I decided to go with CityInn due to its amazing room designs, its sleek interiors and the fact that it’s new. It also doesn’t help that it consistently rated high at Trip Advisor.

I was actually supposed to book the CityInn Hotel III which was nearest the Taipei Main Station but a quick check on their very efficient reservations system revealed an almost filled up hotel, the same goes for its CityInn Hotel II branch. In the end, I decided to go with City Inn Hotel Plus is Ximending, the so-called Harajuku of Taipei.

Cliche as they may sound — booking is as easy as 1-2-3. To confirm my reservations and in order to pay the 30% deposit, I entered my card details similar to how you do it with a credit card. Booking was immediately confirmed. After just an hour, I already had CityInn Hotel Plus calling my mobile phone long distance to confirm the reservations and arrange the transfers from airport to the city (we are arriving at 12:40 and after immigration and all that, might be able to go out the airport by 1:30AM).

So, if you are the type to trawl the various websites of airlines looking for cheap deals and still wouldn’t want to get buried in credit card debt, perhaps you might be interested in getting a prepaid card. This way, we can still satiate our wanderlust yet still be responsible with out finances.

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