At first look, Prince Hotel (太子大飯店) is not pretty at all. Fluorescent lights alongside chandeliers, a red counter to a green backdrop. The lounge in the corner is a couple of coffee tables and chairs, half of which are being used as a makeshift nail salon. Not far from its entrance are large signs quoting hourly prices. A telling sign of the kind of place, I have just stepped into.
This is the first love hotel I’m staying in. While many love hotels in Taipei are themed, luxurious and expensive, the Prince Hotel ranks barely three stars. But I imagine this place must have once been glorious. Situated on the corner of You Ai (友愛街) and Kang Le (康樂街) street of central Tainan (台南市), the white, seven-floor building looks impressively large and spacious enough to may have once been glamourous. Now dated and worn though, it has had to rebrand itself.
My boyfriend had found out about the hotel on Agoda for 550 NTD a night (20 AUD), in already cheap and cheerful Tainan. We thought we found a good weeknight deal and were eager to stay in a conventional hotel. After camping in zero degrees in the Alishan (阿里山) mountains, I would appreciate a place where I could shower, a bed that isn’t the cold hard ground, and a toilet that doesn’t come with the anxiety of someone happening across my naked behind. This is not a conventional hotel. But regardless of the gaudy interiors and possible stink of sex, I am staying here for the night.
A smiley lady greets us with free water and green tea. Foreign backpackers are not the common clientele here, and even in the lobby we see only male guests. After a friendly chit-chat, we retreat to our room, hands full of drinks, and minds peculiar at what we might find there.
Sure enough, ten minutes into settling in we hear the undeniable sounds of sloppy, amorous passion coming from next door. Resonant and crystal clear, it was as though they were in the same room with us. He was, let’s just say, doing all the talking; while she, sounded extremely enthusiastic in agreement with whatever it was he had to say. We made a mad dash to do our laundry, leaving Mister and Missus next door to finish their business.
On the way to the rooftop laundry, we bump into another smiley lady – only this one stands motionless, and rather provocatively.
Ah. What would entice you to wash your soiled clothes more than a portrait of a semi-nude lady inviting you to come hither?
Erotic decor and abysmal sound-proofing aside, this place does however, more than suffice for its price tag. There’s good running hot water with decent pressure, a bath tub to soak sore muscles, a surprisingly comfortable bed, clean sheets and pillows (we checked), and albeit not the best, a view of downtown.
There maybe nothing remarkable about it, but this place certainly knows how to charm. Everything else the Prince Hotel has to offer, makes it an outstanding choice for budget travellers. Stay overnight and every guest receives a breakfast voucher up to the value of 60 NTD…a rather generous amount. Breakfast is served in none other than a local Taiwanese joint, located just downstairs and has one of the most plentiful menu items I’ve seen. You can find the much loved wan ge (碗粿) or rice bowl cake* here.
The hotel not only makes sure you’re well fed after your rest, it also ensures that getting in and out is as convenient as you need it to be. It provides free undercover private parking, or if you rather park on the street like we did, the hotel will pay for your parking tickets!
We worked out that with all the freebies, our total room cost plummeted to a measly 260 NTD a night (10 AUD). I’m not sure how they remain afloat making such little profit, but these extra services certainly appeal to patrons.
Yes it’s a love hotel, but there’s an honesty about this place that makes it easily likeable. Affairs in the boudoir happens pretty much anywhere, and for much more money…but here at the Prince Hotel, you can keep your cash, and still be satisfied. For sleep or otherwise!
Suitable for: Budget, open-minded travellers; couples who aren’t fussy about where they do the deed; and those who want laundry and nail care services right at their doorstep.
Getting There: Make the most of the free parking and drive / scoot there. But if this isn’t your choice of transport, catch any bus from Tainan Station heading to Ximen You Ai Street Kou, the nearest stop to the hotel.
Cost: around 550 – 680 NTD per night for a double room. You can book online, but in our experience, walk-in rates are cheaper.
Pro-tip: Ask for a non-smoking room with a window – and maybe one that isn’t next to anyone else’s. Or else bring ear plugs. Definitely try the breakfast menu downstairs.
*wan ge (碗粿): a homely dish of steamed rice paste topped with delicious meaty sauce. Commonly found in southern Taiwan but hard to come by in Taipei.