Monday, 28 December 2015

Homestay at Taipei - South Island 南岛屿

When I told my mummy that we are going to stay in a minsu at Taipei, she thought it would be a very run-down, sloppy kind of place but mind you, was she impressed when she saw her room. She and her friend think that their room was comparable to,or even better than a hotel's standard.

I've considered hotels like Cosmo,Caesar,Westgate etc until someone from Kiasuparent forum recommended me South Island. She has such raving reviews of South Island that I decided to find out more. On a sidenote, I'm really grateful to the helpful souls from the forum, they made my planning so much easier. Sharing is caring! 

The website doesn't really provide me with much information except for some pictures of their rooms. But the rooms look really nice indeed! I also checked out reviews of them online, there weren't many reviews or blogs about them then but the ones that I read all gave thumbs up for their service.

I decided to email them to enquire on details of their rooms.

The price sure looks tempting. There's even a 5 percent discount if you stay there for consecutive nights.

I think hotel rooms is just a place for us to rest at night,so I feel that it's not necessary to pay so much as I'm not looking for something luxurious.As usual,there were many email correspondence between one of the owners, Ah Chang, and I. He was friendly and prompt in answering all my queries.

So finally,I decided to book one 3 pax (1 queen size and 1single bed for my mummy and her friend) and 4 pax room (2 queen size beds for my family of 4).

 Another owner, Xiaowei, whatsapped me the day before to confirm with us our time of arrival. The check-in time is supposed to be at 3pm but Xiaowei opened up the rooms for us at 12pm to put our luggages before we went off for our lunch.

It's pretty easy to find South Island, exit 1 at Ximen metro station and walk straight until Kunming street. They are located at a building between a 7-11 and a lottery shop. The walk takes around 7-8 min,maybe 10, bearing in mind we have 2 toddlers and lugging our luggages.

We waited at the 1st floor for Xiaowei. He was a very friendly young man, wearing a singlet, bermudas and a pair of slippers. I thought the building looks abit rundown,the lift definitely looks old. Surprisingly for such an old looking lift, we actually need to scan the lift with our keys before we can go up to our rooms on the 8th floor. (Security!)

This is our key,oh, now then I realized that we stayed at Room 3. The black object is the one which we need to scan the lift's sensor. 
This is our door, looks very sturdy indeed. We scanned the sensor to lock and unlock the door. There will be a voice which said: "锁门了", "开门了" so that we know if we locked our door properly.
Honestly,I do not know what is this for.  

When we opened the door to our room.......

Impressed when we stepped inside the room. It is huge and very clean. Looks just like the picture shown on the website  
The air con is working well and my boys leapt on the beds and got all excited! They loved their room. 
This is my favorite part. A washing machine for my laundry!

Okay,so now,more about South Island. They are run by 3 young guys, Ah Chang, Xiaowei and Xiaowu. Housecleaning, check-in and check-out etc are all handled by them. On the day of our arrival, Xiaowei is cleaning both our rooms alone.

Pros of South Island:
1) Reasonable price, full payment in cash upon check-in
2) Reservation via email,very convenient
3) Friendly owners who answer your queries promptly
4) Discounted price if you stay for consecutive nights
5) New, clean and spacious rooms. No carpeted floor. Great for kids as you know how dirty carpets are and my boys like to roll all over the floor
6) Provide toiletries, towels and Wi-Fi. They also gave us a few bottles of mineral water
7) Dustbins are emptied everyday but I'm not sure about arrangement of housecleaning if you stay for a few days straight. I only stayed for 2 days so it's not a concern for me.
7) Washing machine with detergent provided.
8) Convenient location. Located at the heart of Ximending, 7 min walk to Ximen metro station
9) Lots of eateries downstairs, there's a bakery which sells very nice breads and cakes
10) Have to scan the lift's sensor to get to the 8th floor. Sensor lock for added security. 
11) If you have any needs, can just contact the owner. (Note: The owner does not live at any of the apartments)

1) You never know how safe is safe for these minsus. I have heard stories about people getting robbed and some are actually 黑店. I have the young and old with me and I feel responsible for their safety. When trying to search for a minsu in Taichung, I read on blogs that some minsu owners chided their customers for asking directions, as if they are afraid of people knowing that they are operating a minsu. 
Why so sneaky? Hence, I stayed in a hotel at Taichung eventually as I did not managed to find any minsu that I'm comfortable with.

2) Everything was good until my Mummy came over to my room frantically to inform me that her pillow has a stench and even has hairs on it! Leftover from the previous customers?Yikes! But our pillows and bed sheets looked fine and smelled quite (not very) okay too. 
So I whatsapped Xiaowei very politely about our problem and he replied very politely that he had changed all the bed sheets and pillow cases and that they were clean. But nevertheless, he would still change the pillow cases for me the next day. I thanked him and acknowledged his hard work.
If you have this pet peeve for don't-know-if-it's-really-clean-or-not bedsheets and pillow cases, then ALL minsus are not for you, it's better to stay in a hotel. 
I trust my Mummy's word absolutely so I honestly think that it might be an oversight on their part. Case closed.

3) On the next morning, our family of 4 went out at around 800am to grab our breakfasts. My very excited boys made some noises outside our room. Xiaowei texted me later that his customer feedbacked to him that we were noisy and disturbing his/her sleep.So Xiaowei politely reminded me to keep our volume low. I accept this because my boys can be pretty noisy, but I don't think I have to worry about this in a hotel. So I apologized and ensured him that we will keep our volume low.

4) It's good if all is fine but what if your tap bursts in the middle of the night?Or your air con breaks now? Or you are locked out of your door during the wee hours? Or your lift sensor just fails to work? Or there isn't any water supply? Will the owners be able to assist us or do we need to wait for hours? For hotels, you can always call the service line or just change a room if the problem is too serious. This is something to ponder about.

5) 7 min walk to ximen metro station is still not convenient enough for me. I would prefer to stay at Taipei main station instead so that less time is wasted for transiting.

Overall, I rate my stay at South Island a 4/5, it's certainly a gem in Ximending and I foresee that it will continue to gain popularity by word of mouth. My boys absolutely love the room, especially the TV...=s The one point deducted is the sense of insecurity and the mental stress that I have over staying in a minsu. 

So, are you tempted to book your stay with South Island? Do it fast because their rooms are grabbed pretty fast! Reservations opens half a year before your intended date of stay.

Address / 地址

Telephone / 电话
阿昌 (+886)928227066


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