Old Jun 14, 19, 3:49 am
  #22  
bruce80
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: EDKA, STR, ZRH
Programs: LH SEN, A3*G, IHG plat, DB Comfort, SPG gold
Posts: 942
Alright, here we go.

Let's first start with the positive things:

- The location is more or less unbeatable, the hotel is located in a small side street, just about 200m away from exit 3 of the Zhongxiao Fuxing stop of the Bannan Line (BL) or Exit 15 of the underground mall.
- The hotel is relatively small, and so you don't have to deal with all the hassle of one of the bigger hotels.
- Staff are generally quite friendly (but sometimes obtrusively so, see below for more details), and seem to be quite proud of what they are doing (even though that sometimes might lead to exaggerated expectations on the guests' side or even to ridiculous situations - "see, here you even have a brush for your leather shoes" - seriously?)

However, that's about all the really good things I can tell. As the hotel seems to be quite design-focused, let's start with the design aspects - I had booked the "standard suite", which is their highest room category, and they only have two of those available. I paid approximately 450 USD per night including breakfast, and that's actually quite steep for what you actually get. The suite itself is not a proper "suite" (meaning separate living room and bedroom), but rather a large room (about the size of what you would expect from something most hotels sell as "executive room") with a bathroom along the entire side of the room.

The bathroom has a walk-in shower, then a bathtub which resembles what you would usually expect at a japanese onsen (the entire hotel has been designed by japanese interior designers), a vanity area with a small bench (however, without any mirror) and then a wide (single) sink with double faucet, and at the very end of the bathroom. there is a toilet, that can be separated by a glass door with some kind of embedded steel mesh for slightly better privacy (which still doesn't give you real privacy) - the steel mesh actually rattles considerably when opening and closing the door, so you might disturb your roommate at night.
As others have already stated, the bathroom cannot be completely separated from the room, as the passage from room to bathroom does not have a door, and there are several windows between both rooms (not exactly practical if someone needs to visit the toilet at night, as the entire room will be lit up when swichting on the light in the bathroom). Additionally, as the shower only has a curtain (which, when closed, will cut off access to the tray with shampoo and shower gel) and not a proper door, steam from both the shower and the bathtub will emerge into the main room.

Then, they were quite proud to explain that they had actually installed a wooden shutter at one of the windows, trough which the morning sun would usually directly onto the bed - however, that shutter would leave a considerable gap when closed, so the bright morning sunlight would still shine directly onto the spot where you'd have your head in bed (which is actually quite short, I believe that the usable lenght is only 180cm/5'11" as I, being 6'2" tall, always had my feet hanging out).

Other amenities in the room also seem to be placed in a really weird way - for example, there is an (open) clothes hanger on one side of the room, while the cupboard for your smaller items (such as folded shirts) is on the opposite side, and one of the two TV sets was placed in a spot where it was hardly usable. However, the weirdest part of the design (at least for me) was the fact that the hotel has been built into an existing building, but without much consideration for the existing structure - there are lots of balconies around the building (and some rooms seem to feature balcony access), but in our case, the door (which was still there) to the balcony had been bricked up with an interior wall (which even featured a window where the balcony access should have been) on one side of the shower. Had they placed the bathroom onto the opposite side of the room, they could easily have enabled balcony access for their most expensive room.

All in all, the design and layout of the room somehow seems to follow the motto "well intentioned, badly executed". At least, for this room category, you don't have to access the room through the bathroom (which really seems to be the case for lower category rooms).

Alright, that was already quite a lot, let's continue with the service. The Kimpton brand boast themselves with providing "extremely personalized service" (whatever that exactly means), but while everybody seemed to be quite well-intentioned, the service could simply not keep up with the high expectations that had been raised before by their marketing department.

First of all, to me, it really felt like staff were obtrusively friendly and at service - for example, every time when entering or leaving the hotel, they would try to start a conversation with us, and didn't even seem to mind that we told them that we knew exactly where we were headed, and didn't need their help in finding an evening activity (we were having an appointment with local friends) - after we complained that our mini bar fridge wasn't working properly, the replaced it within no time, but then every single employee whose way we crossed seemed to feel obliged to apologize once again for the mistake (and again, and again). At some point, this really got annoying - maybe I just don't understand Kimpton's service attitude, or I'm not the right person to enjoy it, but this was really a major point for both me and my companion. Sometimes, the conversations with staff (particularly during the evening reception) felt quite forced, as if they felt equally uncomfortable with actually "having" to talk to the guests. On the other hand, housekeeping once forgot some of their trash in the room, and one day, we found our bath mat crumpled up somewhere in the bathroom. Still, I guess those two last points are just owed to the hotel still being new, and processes may not have kicked in properly yet.

The breakfast, that was included in our rate was being served in the main restaurant, and is served la carte. First, you'll receive some standard items (yoghurt with a very small sprinkle of cereals, some fruit, and a bread basket) and then you can order from a small menu - however, as they have a british chef, the options on the menu were more or less entirely the same fare that you could also expect in a hotel in central London - poached eggs (benedict/florentine/royale), french toast, waffles and so on - no real local option was available, and that also left me quite disappointed. I don't have to fly halfway around the world to just get the same breakfast as at home, even though both quality and presentation were quite good.

Elite recognition also doesn't seem to be too good, as the only thing I received upon checkin was a single "raid the bar" voucher worth 300 TWD - ok, there obviously wasn't anything to upgrade me to, but somehow, this felt a bit stingy. As an IHG platinum member, I will usually receive points or one drink voucher per person, and those 300 TWD were just enough to have a single beer at the bar, or one and a half cans of beer from the minibar in the room (which was also quite expensively priced). As there were two of us, we would have had to pay for the second beer (which is also not cheap at 9,50 USD per glass), much unlike any other IHG property where I have received welcome vouchers so far. What's a bit strange is that they also seem to have 600 TWD welcome vouchers, as that's what they gave to us as an apology for the non-working mini bar fridge - not sure who would receive that as a welcome amenity.

Another odd thing that I noticed (even thoug not a real problem, maybe more so for privacy) is that the doorbell of every room will light up when someone's in that room and has inserted the key card into the light switch. I'm not so sure whether it's a good idea to tell burglars which room is safe to break into, as nobody is currently home..

All in all, I was really disappointed by the experience, maybe owed to the relatively high price, maybe owed to the high expectations Kimpton's marketing department is creating with all their bold promises of "perfect and personalized service". I'd rate this as a 3/5 (but only because they really seemed to be trying), and will probably not return. And as this was my first stay at the Kimpton brand, I'd probably also avoid the brand in the future, as I just find their way of service to be too intrusive and irritating for my likings. But that's just my personal opinion, and as usual, your mileage may vary.
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