During our trip to Taipei, Taiwan, we were lucky enough to try out not one, but two amba hotels. The second, amba’s flagship hotel in Songshan, was a masterclass in how to appeal to Flying Fluskey! To find out why, read our full amba Songshan review.
We were guests of amba Songshan but all opinions are 100% our own.
amba Songshan Location
Songshan is a district of Taipei, located in the city’s east. It is served by both an MTR station (at the eastern end of the Green Line), and the mainline rail that runs just ten minutes into Taipei Main Station. The best thing about the station? The hotel is connected to it by a bridge so even on super soggy days (like the days we visited) you can stay dry.
Just a few minutes walk from the banks of the Keelung River, and the lovely riverside parks that line it, amba Songshan has the advantage of being close to areas to help escape the city madness. Mind you, if you like city madness then just five minutes away is the Raohe Night Market and some stunning temples.
Check out our review of amba Zhongshan (a little closer to the centre of town).
A Look Around amba Songshan
If you have already read our full amba Zhongshan review (yes, I know it sounds the same) then you will have already seen the signature style of the amba group. I like to think of it as “Shoreditch-business-quirky-cool”. The designs are fun, bordering on hipster, but everything is incredibly well thought out. Think Snapchat headquarters in Silicon Valley and you will have an idea.
With rooms starting on the 17th floor, every room has a good view. Some overlook the river, some the wholesale garment market and some over to the green hills that edge the city to the east. However, our room had probably the best view going. Claiming the corner spot, our room had two huge windows that allowed us views of the hills and (when the clouds cleared) Taipei 101. I found myself staring out of this window as the mist waxed and waned around the skyscrapers to the south.
Happily, the curtains were not only electric (such fun) but the blackout variety. We closed off all that lovely light with just the touch of a button. It is something I could really get used to (smart blinds in our flat maybe?)
The bathroom was separated from the rest of the room by a wall that had storage on one side, and the trademark counter top One of the things that amba prides itself on its that this long space is easily enough for two people. There is a basket full of all the things you could need during your stay. There are even flip flops in the room. They are good quality so you can use them again and again. Under the counter top, you will also find a kettle, small fridge, safe and towels.
The toilet and shower exist in their own little spaces. The shower was nice and powerful, and contained the amazing ginger products that we fell in love at amba Zhongshan. These are made in Taiwan and have the most wonderful ginger punch. We have been trying to eke out these small bottles ever since.
The Rest of the Room
The bed was perfectly comfortable and there was nothing to complain about. It was large enough that we didn’t want to kill each other and the duvets were proper covers
There were even sneaky extra USB sockets on the in-room phone. Its the little things like this that show real thought has been put in to these rooms.
Elsewhere in the room we had a little desk with a funky bluetooth speaker, a large Bravia smart TV (with Netflix and YouTube) an open hanging storage unit (very industrial chic) and a cool little Nespresso coffee maker. Added to all the usual bits and bobs, you can request cool extras. For example, you can get an exercise ball (and the chair it sits in), Apple TV, a PlayStation (if you aren’t going out to explore), a yoga mat and loads of other cool “thoughtful extras“.
Check out all our travels in Taiwan
Throughout the hotel, there are a few different kinds of room. You will see the same lovely big windows, long counter-tops and quirky styling in all of them.
Our favourite thing about the rooms was the cool way they are numbered. As the hotel starts on the 17th floor, the first numbers are all in the 1700s. Each room has a fun little drawing representing the year that relates to the room number. You could easily spend a good hour wandering the halls reading the doors. Here are some of the ones we liked best:
You enter the building, from the bridge,and then you need to take the lift up to the 17th floor. Exiting the lift, the first things that you’ll see are the reception desks. Behind these are a collection of cool vintage-style posters.
Turning to the right you’ll see the lobby/games room/lounge. The windows are metres tall and give a killer view. In this lobby, you can can take a seat and enjoy the view or have some fun. There is a large table which is both a beer pong table, table tennis court and even triples as a meeting table. Alongside this is a table football set up. Normally we can’t resist a bit of Fußball but we were so busy running around Taipei that we clean forgot to have a tournament.
Did you notice the lampshades hanging above the lobby? Well, these huge, beautiful sculptures are made right there in Taiwan by local artists. There are several different designs, most over a metre high. They are so pretty and give the space real warmth.
In this hotel, you aren’t going to left penniless for doing laundry ($3 a shirt…I think not!). Instead, there is a laundry room. Just do your laundry and save a small fortune! There are washers and dryers. Stick your washing in before breakfast, pop it in the dryer and all your items will be finished by lunch. I know this is a much more familiar routine for those of us who are used to hostelling, but it if you really need to wash your things, it is just a slight mental readjustment.
The gym isn’t huge, and it is a shame that the room has no windows. However, the machines are new and it serves a purpose.
This normally wouldn’t get its own section but the WiFi at amba is exceptional! It was good enough to have two of us streaming videos simultaneously. Happy days! Each room has its own WiFi and so you are not competing with the other guests for bandwidth. It makes entertainment and work fantastically fast.
The selection available for breakfast was impressive. I loved the blend of Asian and Western options. Lets have a look around the buffet:
The coffee machine kept kicking out cappuccinos with no coffee in, but the espresso was working fine so I just added it in afterwards. The hot drinks down here, and in the room were all in the cool amba mugs.
Out of the whole selection, the Fan Tuan was new to us. These rice rolls are traditional in Taiwan, and like a very exciting, giant sushi roll. To start with, pick the kind of rice you fancy, white or purple. I HAD to go for purple; the more weird and wonderful the better right!? From there you can pick the fillings from a selection on the counter. The chef will then wrap up your roll and call you over when it is done. Stupidly, I hadn’t thought to ask about onions….why must there always be onions!? I ate my way through as much as possible but the allium beat me and I had to forfeit half of my fan tuan.
All Day Menu
We were lucky enough to try a variety of dishes from menu. It was an unexpected, but VERY delicious surprise. Everything was cooked fabulously and I couldn’t fault any of the dishes we got to sample.
To start we got to taste some of the wood-fired walnut bread, fresh and warm. I’d have been happy to chow down on that, it was nutty, delicious and savoury, but there was so much more to come.
From here, we delved into a selection dishes from the USA to Taipei’s favourite dish, beef noodles.
Looking for Dim Sum? You have to try the Original Din Tai Fung
- To find out lots more information and see all the latest deals, visit the amba Songshan website.
- The amba Songshan is the newest amba hotel. It has become the flagship for the company in Taipei but there are two other locations within the city.
- The hotel is not in the centre of town, you will have to travel to and from it but it is very well-connected. For city kids, we didn’t mind it at all, but if you prefer to walk around and not jump on trains then you will want to pick a hotel further in town.
Final Thoughts on amba Songshan
Despite its eastern Taipei location, the amba Songshan is a very cool and well-considered accommodation. We love how spacious the rooms felt, with those lovely big windows and killer views. We slept so well and thoroughly overindulged at breakfast every day.