Grand Hotel is one of Taipei’s spots which always make it to lists of must-visits. After spending an hour in Martyrs’ Shrine, we decided to walk towards Grand Hotel, which is a kilometer away or a 15-min walk. If it becomes too rainy, taking a taxi will definitely not hurt your budget, you’d be in and out in no time, at all. Walking towards Grand Hotel wasn’t a struggle because Taipei has proper sidewalks. However, the area is built on Yuanshan Mountain, and therefore, uphill at times. In fact, we had to take numerous steps from the doorway with ‘Grand Hotel’ engraved as pictured below to arrive only at the gateway or Paifang of the Grand Hotel. You’ll do another 50m walk on a slope and more steps to get inside the hotel from the Paifang.
I, naively, thought that the Grand Hotel would be another historic spot, maybe, the ‘oldest’ in Taiwan or so. But no, it is still operational and quite expensive if I may say. I learned that Chiang Kai-Shek ordered to build this hotel as Taiwan was lacking of 5-star hotels to cater foreign ambassadors. He made sure that Chinese culture will be promoted through its architecture and design, now, it is currently considered one of the tallest Chinese classical buildings.
I’m quite sure that Filipinos, and most countries in Asia, and those with a ‘Chinatown’, are familiar with classic Chinese infrastructures. Dragons and lanterns, grand columns and intricate roof details with red as the primary color composes the hotel. We went in the lobby and it was red everywhere, and I thought, this is as authentic as any Chinese representations can get.
Some of the notable guests that the hotel has hosted are Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Lee Kuan Yew. Additionally, the night before Ninoy was assassinated, he stayed at the Grand Hotel.
We had to go in the lobby for a few minutes to figure out the next step, also, to warm ourselves. Photo above is me trying to use my numb fingers, haha.