At first glance, the opulent Mandarin Oriental Taipei appears to be a grown-ups only proposition … until you notice several children and toddlers of Asian travelers are present in nearly every corner of the hotel (except the bars, of course!). They look remarkably at ease.
As one of the newer properties in the Hong Kong-based hotel group (opened May 2014), it speaks volumes that the MO Taipei is decidedly unstuffy even with its reputation and pedigree. While Mandarin Oriental properties across the board are noted for a plush array of travel amenities, perhaps this hotel’s best amenity is its attentive but personable management style. This results in travelers not only being able to experience its brand of sophisticated luxury, but also taking kids along with confidence they will feel equally at home.
“We take our MO fans seriously, including the youngest fans, or mini-fans,” notes Luanne Li, a representative for the property. “Whenever we have young families visiting us, we always make sure that our extensive array of necessities, from cots and cribs to diapers and toiletries formulated for children will be available and ready to go. Nannies and babysitting services can be arranged with 72 hours’ advance notice. Parents never have to worry about forgetting something at home, which in itself is a nice luxury.”
While international dining venue Café Un Deux Trois and Italian restaurant Bencotto offer children’s menus, whole families — including children as young as two — can often be spotted enjoying dim sum lunches at Ya Ge, the property’s upscale Chinese dining venue. The swimming pool, meanwhile, is well staffed. This ensures that, with the booking of a babysitter, parents can attend to business activities or enjoy “me time” at the spa (one of the largest in the hotel group) while kids and teens enjoy the pool. The urban oasis offers numerous “spa journeys” integrating pearl, jade and other components sourced from around Taiwan.
Li notes the Mandarin Oriental Taipei’s staff will work with guests before and during their stay to map out the floorplan of their suite to ensure comfort, safety and convenience, as well as assist in planning outings around town. The hotel is a quick walk from a metro station serving two important lines (one route stops at the entrance to the Taipei Zoo and Gondola; the other stops at Taipei 101 and the teen-tailored mall ATT 4 Fun). However, when younger children are involved, the staff will arrange car services as well as recommend activities based on the kids’ ages and interest.
Taxis are readily available at the main hotel entrance and, on average, rides usually run around $3.50–5 for most attractions in the city center. Families interested in touring the city by bike will be delighted to know a YouBike stand is a two-minute walk away. While the team can assist with setting families up with a membership to rent bikes for pennies on the dollar at a moment’s notice, they recommend going to the YouBike site before their stay to register and set up payments.
Other attractions close to the Mandarin Oriental Taipei staffers recommend for families include Baby Boss, an education-driven theme park where children ages 3–12 can explore different professions, as well as the vibrant Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, which encompasses galleries, museums, workshops and the eclectic Eslite Spectrum shopping center including its fabled bookstore and selection of DIY goods for arts-and-crafts projects. The basement food court includes a branch of KaoChi Shanghai Cuisine & Dim Sum, a pleasant alternative to the fun-but-touristy original and Taipei 101 branches of Din Tai Fung.
Taipei Eats, meanwhile, offers tours featuring other markets and specialized restaurants that have become favorites for local families, from an ice cream shop selling definitively Taiwanese flavors to other spots proffering soup dumplings, stinky tofu and an interesting take on the sloppy Joe with shredded pork and a variety of toppings. Though all the night markets draw college kids from nearby schools, the MO team affirms the Ximending Night Market is one of the more kid- and teen-friendly places, and kids into the latest gadgets will not want to miss the Guang Hua Digital Plaza.