I travel frequently for work. Sometimes, this leads to some exciting adventures and unexpected, delightful discoveries. Hidden treasures, if you will. This last trip to Taipei included an altogether un-delightful discovery: I had booked myself into a love motel.
For those of you not in the know, a love motel is a place where couples, married and otherwise, can book some private quality time. It seems such places are more common in Asia where multiple generations live together and you might not be able to find as much privacy.
This place, the Mulan Motel in Taipei, is located very close to my office. After some disappointing experiences at other nearby hotels, I searched on booking.com and found the Mulan. “Ah yes,” I thought, “I’ve passed by that several times. It looks quite decent.”
Sure enough, the photos and reviews on booking.com were quite positive and the price was reasonable – only about US$130 a night. So I booked it.
Being a price-sensitive traveller, always trying to save my company money, I took the train in from the airport and walked the 800 meters from the station to my hotel. My first clue that this was not your average hotel was the lack of a lobby. Instead, you descended a driveway into a subterranean car park. The only office was a larger-than-normal guard box.
I also noticed that all of the parking spaces had a curtain that could be pulled around the car. “Perhaps to keep the dust off?” I optimistically thought.
Taking the lift to my room, I noticed the interior was quite dark and gaudy. Clearly a different decorating scheme than a conventional hotel. Then I found my room and opened the door:
The room was quite large, with high ceilings and ostentatious decorations. A large bed sat in the middle of the room, with a large television and speaker system across from it. The light did not get any brighter and mood music played automatically. The far wall was solid glass with a heavy black curtain blocking the view to the bathroom.
My first clue that this might not be a long-stay hotel was the lack of a closet in which to hang my clothes. The second clue were the condoms in a bowl by the side of the bed. “Well,” I thought, “maybe the expectations are a bit different in the Taiwanese culture?”
The bathroom was almost as large as the bedroom with a deep bathtub and a glass shower. There were towels and the usual amenities but it all felt a little off. Everything was clean, though.
Oddly, there were no windows. Or, rather, the windows were covered with a black plastic film that, I discovered the next morning, had exotic butterfly shapes cut out in them so the morning sun would stream through them in a not-quite-claustrophobic way.
The staff seemed to sense my confusion. They struggled to create a proper invoice for me – unlikely that any of their guests have asked for proof of payment! They were friendly, though, and directed me to the restaurant where a sorry set breakfast was available included in the price of my room.
The only upside to this hotel was the location. It was a two-minute walk from Starbucks, a three-minute walk from the office, and a five-minute run from a beautiful park along the river, where I ran two mornings with a colleague.
Thankfully, my week at the love motel was only three nights. I ended up unharmed and unmolested and upon my return wrote a strongly worded review on booking.com that this hotel should not be listed there as it is appropriate for neither business travelers nor families.
Glad to hear that you had an uneventful stay. I wonder if the mini-bar stocked interesting items for that particular purpose? Did you check?
Actually, the minibar had only a few sodas and water.
While it is a sad and unfortunate experience, I think it is funny though. I wonder if they had rooms for rent by the hour??
Glad you had only a three day stay there Chris.
I am pretty sure shorter-term stays could be arranged. =D
Not appropriate for business or families! I wonder how often your experience has been repeated. At least you could write about it with some humor!
I’m laughing so hard, but you were such a good sport. Also, apparently booking.com pulled out only the positive aspects of your review to highlight.
hahahaha….. Tawn was probably laughed his head off when you told him about your trip.
At my previous company, we had to use Amex to book all our travel. They would give us a few hotels for each city that we could select. We had to use their credit card for all company expenses. The last I remember, we also had to use public transportation where possible.
Oh my! At least it was clean and conveniently located!!
Yes, there were upsides. And those silky satin sheets. =D
I really just want to laugh but I’ll offer a more thoughtful reply. While it wasn’t what you expected at least you got an interesting story AND it was clean. I also stayed at a love motel once in Korea but it wasn’t as fancily decorated as yours and it offered no mood music!
There is probably someone who has a blog with reviews of love motels. Or maybe I should start one.
lol! I almost stayed at one in Tokyo, but once we walked into the lobby, we walked right back out, haha. They were also charging by the hour too, so we should’ve known better.
Hi Chris! Looks like you took a break from blogging as well.
Interesting! I never would have thought to book a love motel for solo travelling…the condoms and dark-lit interiors were probably what I would have expected to see. That said, you’re right that it shouldn’t be listed as accommodations for business travel or families.
lol. oh my. i guess they need to provide better pics online to show how the rooms lack of windows. that’s usually a sign that it could be a love motel. anyhow, i think it’s pretty fancy considering it is in fact a love motel. or do they all have such fancy decor and spacious space? i almost booked a ‘cheap’ hotel for my upcoming trip to seoul. i showed the site to my korean friend to ask for advice. he mentioned that he noticed the lack of windows for the room choices, which means it could be a love motel. so i ended up choosing a more expensive ‘business’ hotel instead.