Why hello. Welcome to the W Hotel.
I’ve heard of it. You’ve heard of it. We’ve all heard of it. In fact, isn’t that what their iconic, sparkling ‘W’ stands for: “we”? No, it stands for “well-designed”—wait, maybe “wonderful”?
There seems to be as many opinions about the W Hotel family, which opened in Taipei last fall, as there are pillows decorating the main sofa of the lobby. And there are a lot, all done in the warm red and royal purples of the W Hotel Taipei color scheme; little tufts of color laying on the large round sofas that sprawl across the minimalist lobby. If Taipei’s growing sophistication and enthusiasm to compete with sleeker sister cities Shanghai and Hong Kong can be summed up in a single structure, it’s the shining W Hotel.
Located in prime real estate in the middle of Xinyi’s bustling business district, the W is full of quirky details that show its loyalty to the city it stands in. If they say that details are the little things in life, they obviously weren’t talking about the W: the W’s entrance is flanked by a huge, chrome-plated giant chain link (it sounds strange, and it totally is – in a good way, of course) and massive wall blooming green with native Taiwanese plants.
Over the next three weeks, 543 is taking you on an insider tour of a star symbol of Taipei’s growth. Join us for “W” Wednesdays, where we’ll interview the people and showcase the reasons that make the W one of our favorite places to hang out in the city.
In cities around the world, hotel bars have been giants in the nightlife scene, acting as representatives of the cities they exist in to the world rushing by (we’re thinking The Ace Hotel in NYC and the Vue in Shanghai). While our city has certainly grown up in the past few years, with sleek, sophisticated districts like Xinyi teeming with new projects, there wasn’t a bar that represented it: until the W, and Woobar, came to town.
Once one strolls past the shining glass facade, through the slightly intimidating lobby, and up the golden elevators to the 10th floor, you’ve arrived at a place so irresistable that even Jeremy Lin fell in love (the basketball star has almost always taken a room at the W during his visits to Taipei). Comfortable lounge sofas and minimalist decor, creative drinks, a soaring ceiling, the best pool patio in Taipei–welcome to Woobar.
Would you like a Woojito? They have more than eight different mojitos, ranging from passionfruit to balsamic vinegar. But why hear it from us? Let’s ask the guy behind the gleaming white counter…
543: Can you explain a bit about what being a bartender at Woobar entails?
J: Of course, a large part of my job is making the drinks that are already available on the menu, as well as accommodating any custom requests that customers may make. If customers order anything special, I want to do my best to fulfill their wishes. When I first come in during the day, I finish all the prep work for the night-time hours, which are always our busiest times.
543: Why work at Woobar?
J: When I first heard of the W, it immediately jumped out at me as a place with a standard above that of most hotels. The colors, the design, the atmosphere: it’s one that I want to work in, and customers want to stay in. I knew that it would be a place where I could experiment and be creative with drinks in a way that suit me. The thing about Woobar is—it’s really like your living room at home. It’s designed so that when you first walk in, you feel like you’re coming home. Well, your home with a really amazing patio and luxury pool…
543: What are your favorite drinks on the Woobar menu?
J: One of my favorite drinks on our menu is called the Woocooler, which is actually relatively simple to make. The whole drink reminds me of summer, with a refreshing taste of strawberry; both sweet and sour at once. Another one of my favorites on the menu is the mojito, which actually comes in many different flavors. On Monday, “Mojito Monday” at the W, we offer many different types of mojitos for our customers at a special price; and out of these, I really like the mojito balsamic, which is a mojito with strawberries inside, finished off with balsamic vinegar: giving it a unique, slightly sour taste.
543: Let’s say that it’s my first time at Woobar. I sit down, open the menu. What should I order?
J: Actually, when many people open our menu, they’re overwhelmed by the options, or don’t really understand it. In this case, the bartenders are more than happy to help out; most people end up ordering some of our more unique drinks, such as the Mojito Basalmic, or the Formosa Cosmo, which uses fresh plum juice and lychee, resulting in a completely unique cosmopolitan. For men, our Manhattan comes highly recommended as well.
1. The Mojito Balsamic: We thought it was weird at first, but now we don’t want our mojitos any other way.
2. Woocooler: The perfect drink to celebrate summer.
3. Strawberry Caipiroska: Or really anything from “With Love, From Brazil”
4. Fries with Truffle Mayo (a must, must order. Make sure you order enough for everyone, or else you’ll find yourself fighting over the last piece.)
5. Wonderful Cosmopolitan: makes for wonderful photos, but with a cloud of cotton candy atop– boys, we wouldn’t recommend it for you.
Between their bustling weekends serving the pre-club crowd, their Mojito Mondays, their Taipei Beats Sunday afternoon pool parties (the perfect post-hungover Sunday brunch activity) and Sangria Sundays; if they just made a few more drink-day alliterations, we’d probably be here every single day of the week.
Photography by UP AGAINST THE WALL ASIA