There are two tourist popular tourist hubs in Taipei. One is near the Taipei 101 in the commercial Xinyi district and the other is located next to the Longshan temple and the Huaxei night market. It is here at either of these two places that one can find budget accommodation. But, sometimes, even these budget accommodation leave a lot to be desired and hence I went the Airbnb way at Taipei and booked myself at the City Bear Hostel located close to the Taipei city hall station in the Xinyi district. Below is review is based on my recent experience of staying 4 days and 3 nights here.
1) The city bear hostel is family run and feels every bit like a home. The family members try and accommodate all your needs and help you with all the local information. They even allowed me to stay a good 11 hours more in their common area while I waited for my early morning flight.
2) The rooms are good for the USD 26 per night price with air conditioning, attached bathroom, hot shower and all the important amenities. But, the rooms are definitely small for 2 people irrespective of the size of the people. Even the bathroom is small, but I am sure a budget traveler cares more about the room than the bathroom.
3) The place also comes with free wi-fi, free laundry, free microwave, free refrigerator and drinking water. This comes in very handy if you plan to stay here for a while.
4) Since the place is family run, you can negotiate with the owner for a better price depending on your duration of stay. The owner is known to give discounts for longer durations.
5) The best attribute about this place is that is situated in a quiet neighborhood, but still provides great access to the restaurants, the Taipei city hall MRT station (5 mins by walk), Taipei 101 (15 minutes by walk), Night markets (15 mins by walk) and the shopping district of Xinyi (10 mins by walk).
6) Since the place is located in a local neighborhood, it allows you to understand the local culture and even interact with the locals on a regular basis.
7) This place is a hostel, but doesn’t come with the aura of a hostel with its bar, night life and all. This is great if you do not like loud music bothering you in the night, but a problem if you like to let your hair down in the evening. For those who wish to party, some of the famous night clubs of Taipei are also located close by.
8) The hostel is easy to approach from the international airport and takes about 70-80 minutes worth commute by bus.
9) All the tourist attractions of Taipei – Taipei 101, Maokong Mountain and Gondola ride, Taipei Zoo, Longshan Temple, Huaxei Night Market, Ximending Shopping district and others are either short walks away or at most a 20-30 minute MRT ride away from the city hall MRT station.
I would definitely recommend this place to all kinds of budget travelers, students and backpackers going to Taipei, but do keep in mind that the rooms can be tight if you are a tall person.