citizenM Taipei North Gate is the most fun hotel I’ve stayed at in a long time. The funky, stylish decor, casual & competent service, rooms with ipad controlled mood lighting and the fastest hotel internet on this planet all add up to a fun experience. You’ll have to live with a small, but smart room, a high price per square meter and self-service everything, but I’d happily make that compromise!
Location: The citizenM Hotel Taipei is in a convenient location near the Taipei Main Station, with access to the airport MRT, the High Speed Rail Station and three Taipei MRT lines in 5-15 minutes walking distance. The airport is about 45 minutes by train. You can also walk to the entertainment district of Xinmen, with plenty of restaurants, bars and shops. Taipei’s public transport is excellent and you can reach all the major sites easily by train or bus. Taxis or uber are readily available and the hotel sits on the intersection of two major roads, making it convenient for car transport as well.
Despite the traffic on the busy roads, there was no noise issue in my room and I had a great view over the river and city!
Service: citizenM Hotels follow the airline trend to let you pretty much do it all on your own, so don’t expect any bell boys. The small lobby has computers to do self-check in. It’s pretty easy, just enter your name and follow instructions on the screen to complete your check-in, code a keycard for your room and process the credit card payment.
An “ambassador” (aka front desk agent) took a copy of my passport and offered assistance in case you need it. You can’t choose your room in the process, it is assigned automatically. It only takes a few minutes and I was on my way.
The staff was friendly in a casual kind of way. Don’t expect the “customer is king, we’ll do whatever it takes to make you comfortable” service you find at 5-star hotel in Asia. It’s more like staying with friends or a really nice airbnb host, and I thought that was a good thing. Housekeeping was pretty much invisible, but made up my room quickly and thoroughly when I requested it.
The best chance to determine the quality of service is when things go wrong – and service recovery is required. In my case, the deadbolt on my room door broke and I was not able to open the door any longer from the inside, leaving me locked into my room – a little scary on my day of departure, even in the nicest room. When I called the front desk, they had a mechanic and a manager at my door within minutes and the necessary tools another minute later. They were able to open the door and figured out what was wrong within immediately. I was prepared for a lengthy wait with lots of back and forth to get it done, but they had it solved and me on my way in minutes – very impressive.
The restaurant staff was just as nice and competent, had me seated and served quickly.
Check out was also self-service and done quickly. You’ll have to pay by credit or debit card – no cash taken here!
Room: The rooms at the citizenM hotel are small but stylish and cleverly designed. They are narrow, with a wall closet and frosted-glass enclosed bathroom on one side and a cabinet-style sink and narrow desk on the other. The king-size bed goes wall-to-wall under a panoramic window that takes up the whole wall. The long shape, huge window and glass enclosed bath make the room feel much more spacious than it actually is!
If you are staying with two people, make sure you like each other and are limber enough to climb over the other person, because you can’t walk around the bed! A large storage drawer under the bed holds your luggage. The sink cabinet has space for your toiletries, nice, thick towels, a hairdryer and (nice quality) bath amenities. A huge TV is wall mounted above the bed. The whole room is held in white, with a few red & black touches, brown wood floors. The green frosted glass bathroom with white floors looks equally modern.
But while a lot of hotels these days try to look hip & trendy, the citizenM goes further: You get a customized ipad on your night stand that controls the curtain and blinds on the window, going from panoramic views to light coming in and pitch dark! You can also control the mood-lighting in the bathroom, putting the room in a yellow to red or purple light, whatever suits your mood!.
You can also control all the other lights in the room, the TV programing and streaming from your mobile device with the ipad. You also find universal power outlets and a USB plug by the desk for all your devices. If controlling the room from an ipad doesn’t sound like fun to you, don’t worry – there are regular wall switches and a good ol’ remote to control everything just fine.
The closet is very narrow and also has a laptop size safe.
The desk & chair offer very limited space to work in a pinch, better than the no-desk policy of other hip & trendy hotels, but not by much.
The bathroom holds the toilet and shower with a curtain for separation. The shower has handheld and rainfall shower heads with great water pressure. While it’s pretty small as well, the all glass enclosure makes it feel light and spacious enough. There are colored lights installed for your very own, personalized mood lighting!
The curtains, blinds, lights and TV all worked great and were easy to control. The free WiFi internet was blazing fast at an average of 326Mbps – the fastest I have ever managed at any hotel, anywhere. Go ahead, stream your 4K video on multiple devices while making calls!. The upload speeds were almost as fast, so you can get some work done or upload all those pictures and videos to the cloud, while you are here!
Restaurant & Amenities: The hotel is focused on delivering a cool room – but doesn’t offer much else. There is no fitness center or pool. The “ambassadors” pointed out running tracks and bike rentals along the river as an alternative.
You do have the “living room” with a TV, books and various seating to hang out or work. There are also a few computers, in case you didn’t bring your own. The bar and a pantry are open all day for snacks, coffee or drinks.
Breakfast is served buffet style in the morning. It consists of croissants and white toast, pieces of fruit and yogurt, cold cuts and cheese, as well as scrambled or boiled eggs, sausage, bacon and tomatoes. It’s a very Western breakfast, surprisingly no Asian hot dishes. While I enjoyed the quality of all the items, the selection is very limited. It does include coffee or tea made to order.
Bottomline: The citizenM is an unabashedly modern hotel that offers a small but stylish room. I enjoyed the design and great views. The ipad controlled lights, blinds and media are as functional as they are fun. The casual-friendly service goes with the style of the hotel. At a rate of $91, it’s not cheap and you can get a bigger room with more amenities for less in Taipei – but I don’t think you’ll have more fun. I really enjoyed it much more and can’t wait to try out other citizenM hotels in Europe as well. This is how a modern city hotel should look like, I hope Marriott, Hilton and IHG take notice!