We usually reserve a hotel a few weeks before the actual trip. I browse through Agoda or Booking.com, look for the perfect hotel in the perfect location and make sure that the price is right for me and whoever I'm traveling with. I'm all for traveling cheap without sacrificing comfort -- so a boutique or 3-star hotel should be okay.
The last time we were in Taipei, we booked YOUR Hotel which is in the Wanhua District. Very convenient location -- right outside the hotel is the Huaxi Street Night Market (or Guangzhou Street, whichever) and a few blocks away is Ximending. Public transportation is also very easy to reach -- cabs, bus stations, subway stations are all walking distance from the hotel. We checked if there are available rooms for our dates, but it was a bit over our budget. I heard from a friend who's also been to Taiwan a couple of times that their hostels are good choices as well, so I said why not give hostels a try for the first time? We reserved MUIU Capsule Inn but still kept our options open.
A few days after, I started browsing for hotels again and found a good deal (around P4,100/night!) for Diary of Ximen. The price is a bit higher than the hostel of course, but the comfort of a hotel is still different. So we canceled MUIU and booked this instead.
We got to Diary of Ximen by booking a private airport transfer through Klook. It was very convenient because our ride was already waiting at the arrival area when we landed -- and we landed early. Travel from airport to the city is around an hour.
It's kind of hard to spot the hotel's building at first especially when everything around it is already closed. We asked our driver where it is and he gladly showed us the entrance. Upon entering, you'll see a sign board on the right that indicates what each floor has. Diary of Ximen's lobby (and cafeteria) is on the 12th floor, but the building seems to have a couple other hotels in it: Muzik Hotel and Diary of Taipei hotel.
The location of the hotel is awesome. Walk through the first alley on the left (upon exiting the building) and you'll enter the heart of Ximending night market. There are a LOT of places where you can buy cheap food and hello, it's Ximending! Easily everyone's favorite place in Taipei.
Upon getting off the elevator on the 12th floor, this is what you'll see. The cafeteria is also on the 12th, and that's also where they keep the luggage tied together by a rope (as you can see on the photos. HAHA!)
The staff were quite friendly but hardly spoke English. Upon arrival, we were immediately given our key cards. Our room was on the 5th floor so we had to go back in the elevator to go down. Glad to know the building's quite safe because you'll need a key card to go on floors that has rooms.
The room is pretty spacious. You'll immediately see the whole room upon entering, but it's okay for four people. I forgot to take a picture of the wall where the huge flat screen TV was on, as well as the mini fridge, and the safe, but it's under that red desk beside the 2nd bed. The bathroom's really big too, so you have space to dance around while taking a shower. Haha! Also -- this room had a LOT of sockets. The four of us each had our own so we didn't need to wait for the other to finish charging our gadgets. Plus points for Diary of Ximen!
This is our first time to avail free breakfast in our hotel. I can say it was worth it, but we could live without it. Unlimited drinks (coffee, tea, juice, water) are already included so we could just buy noodles or bread or something to fill our stomach. Buttttt it really wasn't so bad!
Here are photos of the regular breakfast spread (served 7-10am):
I didn't get to take a picture of the noodle area (our favorite!) but there's always a kind of long line to get your own bowl. Basically, the set above is what you'll ALWAYS see for every morning for breakfast. I didn't get to take photos every day of the food they change (we always go down late so everything's almost finished), but on one of the days we woke up early, here's what they had to offer:
In all fairness, everything tasted decent. I just wasn't familiar with what they served (I wish the main dishes had signs also) -- I'm not even sure if these are all authentic Taiwanese dishes. Everyone else seemed to enjoy the food, so I guess we were too picky.
Here are what we ate every day for the duration of our stay in Diary of Ximen:
Overall, I would definitely stay in this hotel again. Perfect location, spacious rooms, good enough breakfast food, unlimited drinks (forgot to mention I LOVE the hot chocolate) and fast wi-fi too! Highly recommended.