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My flight from one of Taiwan’s tranquil outer islands into Taipei Songshan Airport was short, but plunging back into the capital city’s bright lights and heavy traffic felt jarring after three days spent in a slow-paced, rural setting.
But when my taxi turned into a hilly residential section of Taipei’s Beitou District, everything went quiet. Minutes later, we pulled up to The Gaia Hotel, and I was ushered by a friendly staffer up a flight of stairs to a pale-gold marble lobby adorned with a fiber-optic chandelier and natural wood floors.
Anchored to this lobby was a four-story library with soft gray modular seating and hardwood floors. Blonde-wood bookshelves were interspersed with picture windows that peered into the property’s restaurants and other public spaces.
“This is my favorite part of the hotel,” the staffer said, pointing at the skylight that reflects the multi-colored lights emanating from the library’s beaded chandelier. “It reminds our clients that they need to take a few minutes to relax, read, enjoy the property and not be in a rush.”
Indeed, I found that all aspects of The Gaia — from its intimate scale, minimal hallway chatter and pervasive emphasis on wellness — made my stay a definitively relaxing experience.
The warm, minimalist decor found in the lobby and the library continues into 48 soundproof guestrooms and suites, where panoramic windows and generous bathrooms with deep soaking tubs frame postcard-worthy scenes of mountains and parkland. Amenities such as Wi-Fi access; locally sourced, gourmet tea and minibar items; refrigerators; and LED televisions are on par with big-name luxury properties in the country’s central Daan and Songshan districts.
En route to my room on the fourth floor, my friendly companion stopped on each level to point out access to a well-appointed fitness room, a sauna and other draws — such as the spa with various massage offerings, the landscaped outdoor hot-springs soak area (complete with a novel “snow shower” that occurs every 30 minutes) and the covered outdoor pool outfitted with massage jets.
I was eager to try out those bracing jets to work out some hiking-induced stiffness, but dinner awaited at QiyanOne — one of three on-site dining options — so I had to be content with a bath and shower in my room. Thankfully, it did not disappoint; the water, sourced from Beitou Hot Springs, left me feeling revived with silky-smooth skin.
QiyanOne’s “Lazy Susan” dinner was a surprising delight. The kitchen elevates regional cuisine from Taiwan’s rural states into gourmet creations without compromising the dishes’ origins and spicy flavor profiles. From there, I slipped in an hour at the outdoor hot springs, then proceeded into a luxuriant and uninterrupted sleep.
The next morning, after a quick spin on the fitness center’s treadmill — which provided a lush mountain view — I headed to the pool for an hour of self-guided hydrotherapy. Completely refreshed, I peeked at the atmospheric indoor-outdoor meeting rooms, and I could easily see why even U.S. publications like The Wall Street Journal gave The Gaia high marks as an ideal urban business retreat.
The hotel is a 10-minute walk from Beitou’s public hot springs (where a swimsuit is required), the Beitou Hot Spring Museum, several pocket-size art and history museums and the Beitou Thermal Valley, with trails that are punctuated with hearty joggers and power-walkers who are intent on sweating out the worries of modern life.
The Details:The Gaia Hotelwww.thegaiahotel.com