Mar 11, 2013

[TopSelect] Must-Stay Excellent Accommodation

A real timeout from work, or a break from the norm, is probably what people call for while planning a trip, either short or extended, domestic or foreign. To the many, accommodation arrangement matters so much that it might decide whether a trip is a full success. Hotels with stars, luxuriously furnished rooms, full facilities, good location, guest-centered room services might sound attractive. However, when we are arranging accommodation for our guests, we’ve asked ourselves many times: What can be an excellent accommodation? 

We came up with an idea to make each of our guest’s stay-overnight experience exceptionally special --- by introducing them "homestay" as an option that makes access to learn how local life functions. We would like our guests to get a home-away-from-home feeling as much as possible.

We believe that by providing our guests a different way of traveling, they won’t be just visiting Taiwan as ordinary travelers. (Picture taken in Linsu, one of our best-loved homestays in Jiufen 九份)

To develop the idea more, there’s a saying that goes like this: Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters? We quote this from one of the Confucius wise sayings quite often when we are receiving a friend or a honorable guest.

That’s a part of the reason why we prefer special local hostels instead of fancy hotels. The “homestays” and their owners we know (and we’ve recommended our guests) are very much likely to bring up such a cozy, relaxing experience to our guests. And we think they deserve a home-like atmosphere when they travel abroad.

One of the most authentic and traditional Taiwanese homstays, Silence Home in Jhushan, Nantou
Our selected homestay in 石上清泉, Nantou 南投. The photo was taken in the kitchen where all  kitchen tools are available to use.
To the back of the table, it's the kiln oven that is often used to bake bread or pizza for guests (石上清泉)
Little guests having fun in Sky Yard.
In addition to the homestay owners being extremely hospitable, warm-hearted, people-oriented --- which we call such a national character Taiwan’s passion 台灣人的熱情) --- the “home” itself is a real local life story to tell, like how they’ve built up a totally different life from their previous one, how they’ve invested their time and money on everything, and how they are motivated to manage a hostel in general.

Self-made snacks offered by hosts of Linsu, including roasted sweet potatoes, one of  the most traditional Taiwanese snacks.
Having Chinese churro for breakfast that offered by 石上清泉
Guests and hosts preparing dinner altogether 石上清泉
Guests chilling at Sky Yard.

For every person, especially every travel lover, there’s always a corner or a shelf of a bookcase in their room (their OWN room back in hometown) that displays the collections gathered from their trip to remind them the memories they’ve had, either good or bad, fun or not fun. It could merely be a postcard, a pebble on a beach, a dry leaf, or even a story told by a local. 

That’s probably what we think to be “exchange”. When a guest makes a trip and he or she gets something back. Every guest deserves additional values from the trip. And, we hope to make it happen through offering our guests what we think to be highly recommendable. And sharing the accommodation experience does it. 

Having a close conversation with the friendly hosts, guests may get a sense about how Taiwanese people and life are like in general.

The hosts of Linsu themselves are big fan of antiques. This is just a few of the collections that will bring up Taiwanese people's old time memories. 
Chinese antique collections as interior arrangement in Linsu
An extra guest house built by the owners of 石上清泉. This used to be their young little baby girl's study room.

Another criterion that we think an ideal homestay should fulfill is: to offer a full private space that is available for a family or a group of close friends. To arrange a trip away from home is already not easy. And what we hope to do is connecting our guest’s need for intimacy with their travel members during a trip, and of course without too much disturbance.

石上清泉's outdoor private cafe where guests usually hang out with their family and friends.

A Chinese retro style back yard in Sky Yard.

Tea-tasting time in the front yard at Sky Yard.

The exceptionally attractive part of staying over at these homestays is their surrounding area. The location is great for walks, sightseeing, and enjoying being away from the bustle and hustle of the city. Almost all guests we have received made positives feedback after they stayed at these homestays. We've heard quite a few times from the first-time goers saying that they don't want to leave in the end. 

A great timing for a cozy walk in the fog (Linsu

A view of Keelung Mountain standing right in front of Linsu
Overlooking spectacular cloud formation at Sky Yard.

We've been lucky to find these homestays that we are really in love with. And we would like to share these places with our guests if they decide to travel in Taiwan. We have long been searching for like-minded hostel owners to build up a shareable philosophy --- while traveling in Taiwan, every person and place our guests will have encountered should leave them an impression that is affectionate enough to trigger any travel memories. 

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