Want a luxury hotel right above an enormous shopping centre, in the middle of the Taiwanese capital? Head for W Taipei, which is what the gal did. The lobby is deliberately minimal. Imagine a cavernous space the size of two squash courts end to end. Paint it bright colours, put a couple of static bean bags on the floor and half a dozen below-lit blue circles – think they are water. But go mad with an enormous, like six feet tall by ten feet, wall installation, OLED by Philips ( hotel GM Cary Gray saw the original at Art Basel). Swish past it and a pattern emerges.
Although Mr G is not a qualified architect – though he did start studying it, in his native Hawaii, before switching over to hotels – he has been very involved in what has gone into this wow place. Here he is standing in front of the so-original but low-cost art works in one of the many meeting rooms (they can do seated weddings for a thousand or more in this 405-room hotel). This particular art piece is made of noodle spoons. Clever. Other decorations are Chinese cookie cutters hung in a pattern on a plain background.
He showed me round the hotel. Stand in front of this print, which starts as a clear canvas, and as if scanning, say for a passport image, a bar moves over it and produces a print of what it sees. Yes, this is me and Mr G, just identifiable, hopefully. And then, like Snapchat, it fades, quickly. Yes, this hotel is so much fun. Even at the far end of the 80-ft outdoor pool there is a ten-foot balloon shape, reflecting silver, a mammoth version of a Jeff Koons balloon dog. The pool and its surrounding terrace, by the way, lead directly off the tenth floor Living Room, which is front desk, all-day lounge and evening DJ, and bright pinks and bright orange.
The bedrooms are basically white, but they all have orange highlights. This suite has a dayglo screen separating the bathing area from the rest of one room – it also has a Kohler infinity bathtub, fed by a tap in the ceiling. All rooms have wood flooring by all-wall windows, simulating a terrace. Lie on the mattress by that window, imagine you are sunbathing (which you could of course also do, in reality, outside by that pool). And in between all this fun, you need to eat. The all day Kitchen Table restaurant has a wood ceiling fluted as if a row of vines, and yellow walls have framed broken plates, and a big communal table has a glass top, with – whole – plates stuck on the underside that are the same as the plates you are using.
And upstairs on the top, 31st floor, there is Yen, a purple, black and lots of daylight full-full Chinese restaurant with what many say are the best dim sum in town. Drink the hotel’s own craft beer, Five, which, pronounced locally, is Woo… just like the W Hotels’ standard Woo Bar. Yes, this is a very clever, and fun, luxury hotel (and I have not even mentioned the spa or the outstanding 24/7 Technogym).