We were not new to the CityInn chain of hotels.  Less than 2 years ago, on our last visit to Taipei, we stayed a night at the CityInn Hotel Taipei Station Branch III and had given a fairly good review. Back then, we would recommend it to be a good budget hotel for a short stay.

That explains why the CityInn chains of hotels were our first choice when we visited Taipei again. This time though, CityInn Hotel Taipei Station Branch III was already fully booked, so we had to settle for its older sibling, Cityinn Hotel Taipei Station Branch I.

Good Location

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In terms of location, we must say that Cityinn Hotel Taipei Station Branch I has an advantage over Branch III as it is located within the hub of commercial activities.

At its doorstep are numerous cafes, eateries, restaurants, bubble tea shops, and even big brand names such as Etude House, Innisfree, Uniqlo and H&M, all which open late into the night.  There’s no lack of eating and shopping options here at all.

Opposite the cluster where Cityinn Hotel Taipei Station Branch I is located is the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (新光三越), the only large-scale department store in the vicinity of the Taipei Main Station.

The nearest exit from Taipei Main Station is M5, and from there, Cityinn Hotel Taipei Station Branch I is about a 5 – 7 minute walk away, provided that you do not stop at any of the shops on the way.

Unpleasant Check In Experience

This is where everything starts to fall apart…

We arrived at Cityinn Hotel Taipei Station Branch I on the High Speed Rail from Kaohsiung relatively early for a check-in.   And so we were told to come back later at 3pm when the room is ready. We deposited our luggage at the counter and informed the counter staff that we will be returning in the evening for our room as we need to rush for our hotspring appointment at Wulai.

This is the actual size of the check-in counter at the ground floor, by the way.  There was no zoom used in taking this photo – it is the actual size of its lobby, taken at the entrance.  The equally tiny lift is at the left hand side of this photo and deposited luggages occupy the right hand side of this photo.

At good times when there is only a guest or two in this lobby, it is relatively ok.  But most times however, it is choked full of guests waiting to check in (and trust me, it is a madhouse in the evening), you actually need to rub shoulders with strangers because there is just no space to walk.

Compared to its more spacious younger sibling at Branch III , what we experienced at Cityinn Hotel Taipei Station Branch I was literally a nightmare every time we need to pass by this lobby on our way in/out.

When we returned back at Cityinn Hotel Taipei Station Branch I in the late evening after our hotspring, we were told that we had to wait, because there was no room available for us yet, but they are cleaning up a room for us now.  Wait a minute.  We booked our room ages ago didn’t we?

We showed up in the morning and proved that we were not a no-show case.  The hotel was fully aware of our presence because we had even deposited our luggage there, and yet, hours after the official check-in time, they are telling us that we still needed to wait?

This is the lobby/waiting area on the second storey.  And so wait we did (what else could we do?), at the second floor where other disgruntled guests had to wait as well.

To the credit of the hotel, they were thoughtful enough to provide a weighing scale at the corner.  But again, this is only one small positive thing out of a series of blights.

Right opposite this sofa is actually a row of rooms, and as we were waiting, we noticed the chambermaid cleaning one of the rooms right opposite this waiting area.   Somehow, my mind connected and I suspected that this was the room they were rushing to clean up for us.  I commented loudly to Tommy that this had better not be the case, because anybody could see that this was easily the lousiest room in the entire building, because of the high traffic and the noise generated here.  To prove my suspicions right, the counter staff came up 20 minutes later, and told us rather apologetically that this was indeed our room, and that if I would prefer a better room, I would have to wait another 15 minutes (Seriously? You must be joking?)  I really wanted to clobber her by this point…

And so, wait again we did, my anger building up over every precious minute wasted.  The staff, as if sensing my displeasure, offered to give us a late check-out, which was totally pointless and useless, because our flight was in the morning.

Tiny Room

This was what we were waiting so long for.  Photo taken from the doorway with no zoom.  This was how tiny the room was.  Not that it came as a surprise, because we were fully aware of what we were signing up for when we booked a budget hotel such as CityInn.   There’s hardly enough space to walk in a single file, let alone pack a luggage.

But even as we came with low or little expectations, humans tend to compare, and in this case, I could not help to compare the CityInn I with CityInn III, and feel some degree of disappointment.

For one thing, the light control technology that had so impressed me at CityInn III was not present here in its older sibling.  While the CityInn III offered chic and refreshing furnishings designed ergonomically,  CityInn I looked tired and well-used.

Overall, the room itself wasn’t that bad (as compared to the nightmare check-in experience).  The one thing that bothered me most about this room was the fact that I had to sleep with my face plastered to one side of the bathroom wall.  And because the top part of this bathroom wall was not frosted, the lights from the bathroom will bother you when someone uses the bathroom at night.

Final Verdict

I write this with mixed feelings.  While we had a fairly good experience with the CityInn Hotel Taipei Station Branch III about two years ago, Cityinn Hotel Taipei Station Branch I swings to the other end of the spectrum.  While I would like to think that the check-in screw-up was more of a isolated incident,  it really was not the case, because on every evening that we returned, we came across the counter staff saying similar things to their new guests who had to wait for a room.   It makes me wonder if CityInn had bitten off much more than they can chew, because readying a room in time really is just a matter of logistics and proper planning.

The one and only saving grace for Cityinn Hotel Taipei Station Branch I is its strategic location, but then again, there are other hotels in the same vicinity too which travellers can consider too.

I truly had wanted to think better of Cityinn Hotel Taipei Station Branch I, but it has let me down in more ways than one.  It has been quite a while since I had such an unpleasant experience with any hotel.  In any case, it was not a pleasant nor comfortable stay, so much so that I was actually looking forward to leaving.  We will probably never stay here again, even if it was the cheapest hotel in town.

Join us next we enjoy a leisure morning @ Maokong!

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