This is our review of the Westin Yilan hotel in north eastern Taiwan.
After a long weekend in Taipei it was time to leave one city for another, albeit a much quieter one.
Yilan is on Taiwan’s east coast and is a popular destination for locals thanks to its proximity to Taipei and the abundance of hot springs and various other outdoor pursuits. We had just two days so it was perfect, although if you have more time and can head further south you’ll find much more spectacular scenery.
The hotel website is here. Thank you to Marriott for arranging my stay for review purposes.
Where is the Westin Yilan hotel?
Yilan is the northeastern-most county in Taiwan. Yilan City, in the North of the country, is the capital and lies on the wide delta of the River Lanyang.
This is one of the few flat areas in the country, with the terrain quickly becoming mountainous outside of the delta. Drive just over an hour and you can quickly be up at 2,000m altitude in the mountains (and, more often than not, in the clouds).
Like the rest of Taiwan, Yilan is readily accessible via public transport including train (about 90 minutes from Taipei) although ideally you need a car to be able to explore the area independently. The drive takes roughly the same amount of time, depending on the traffic in the tunnels from Taipei.
The Westin Yilan itself is located on the outskirts of Yilan City in an area called Yuanshan. Like the rest of Yilan City, it’s a low-rise area with plenty of rice paddies interspersed between larger houses, although there’s a small high street too.
If you do come by car (and I recommend you do) the resort does offer free parking.
One thing I recommend is the Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area. This is about an hour’s drive from the Westin Yilan in a former logging area. Once inside it’s a big climb full of switch backs to the various attractions including the hot springs (where you can boil your own eggs!) as well as to one of the most famous small walks in Taiwan along the former moss-covered logging railway.
Other notable attractions include the Beihou Temple and the Kavalan Whisky Distillery, both within a 10-20 minute drive (if that).
Inside the Westin Yilan hotel
The Westin Yilan is a relatively small resort with just 85 rooms and suites. The resort is set back just slightly from the road – don’t expect a winding expansive grounds or a winding road, as it is a fairly compact site.
Check-in takes place in a large dedicated building with gables:
Apart from check-in / check-out there’s little reason you’ll be in here, especially if you take the lifts down to the underground car park and drive out.
Rooms and suites at Westin Yilan
Rooms are set over three floors – ground, first and second – and there are also six villas at the rear.
We were given a junior ‘studio’ suite on the second floor. This is an open-plan suite at 43 sqm. The door opens onto a large living area, with sofa mini bar and counter top:
The mini bar is stocked with some rice milk, juice boxes and a couple of cans of water and cola, all of which are complementary and replenished daily.
To the very left is the wardrobe – this features a luggage rack, ironing board, safe and dressing gowns.
With just one window, the room does feel quite dark, although we also arrived on a particularly dingy and wet day which I’m sure didn’t help.
Opposite the sofa is a half-height partition. This features TVs on both sides – one facing the sofa and the other the king bed on the other side. Annoyingly, only the sofa-side TV was smart – we weren’t able to stream to the bed TV from our devices.
This is clearly an older hotel because there are only charging sockets on one side of the bed. There is also some sort of AI voice assistant in place, although this couldn’t connect to the wifi during our stay.
The bed was very comfortable and there were four pillows – two firmer and two softer.
In the corner of the main living room you’ll find a round table and two chairs.
Behind the sofa is an open-plan bathroom. I know this is not going to appeal to everyone, although the toilet and shower are in separate cubicles. The toilet is an automatic (but not TOTO-branded) toilet with heated seats etc.
Toiletries are Westin’s ‘White Tea’ brand, and there are also two wash basins.
There’s only one thing left to show you and that is the balcony, which features a massive two-person bathtub that’s fed with water directly from the hotel’s hot springs:
The Westin Yilan hot springs
Speaking of hot springs …. these are a huge part of the appeal of Westin Yilan. On the ground floor, you’ll find the hot springs facilities. As is typical in Taiwan, these are gender-separated and you are expected to bathe in the nude.
The facilities, whilst not huge, are relatively extensive and feature a variety of pools. Indoors, you have two hot / warm pools as well as a cold plunge pool, whilst outdoors there’s also a large, naturalistic pool:
There is also a steam room and sauna, as well as a relaxation room:
The springs are open until 10pm daily and make for a lovely way to end the day, although beware that some of the pools are very hot.
Gym, pool and kids club
On the lower ground floor you’ll find further facilities including the gym, outdoor pool and kids club. The pool is relatively big and faces a big water wall:
The gym is just behind it:
There is also a kids play area and a number of table tennis / pool tables:
Breakfast and dinner at the Westin Yilan resort
Despite its small size, the hotel has multiple food and beverage options including its buffet restaurant, Seasonal Tastes, on the ground floor.
The decor is perhaps a little to reminiscent of a school cafeteria:
…. but apart from that it is decent, with a bigger selection than you might think. There are cheeses and cold cuts, including smoked salmon:
…. and a salad bar, a variety of hot items including congee, noodle soup, dumplings and more as well as eggs made to order, hash browns and a variety of other western flavours:
The pastries are less accomplished, particuarly the croissants, but there’s also a range of fruits, cereals, yoghurts and more.
A buffet dinner is also served at Seasonal Tastes, which included a variety of sashimi and sea food as well as a lovely hunk of roast beef which was sliced for you on request.
Mai Japanese restaurant
If you want something a la carte then there is also a Japanese restaurant upstairs called Mai.
It was a bit of a challenge deciphering the menu: fundamentally, you get a choice from what appear to be six identical set menus, albeit each one at a different price. When we asked what the difference was it came down to the two main courses – the top one featured beef and lobster – but in reality, the higher priced menus came with more extensive (and larger) portions for every course.
The meal started off with an excellent appetiser and sashimi:
The tempura and main courses weren’t quite as good, with the tempura not quite as crispy as it should be and the main course (in my case pork) a little on the cold side. Dessert and seasonal fruit follow.
Late night snacks
Between 9:45pm and 10:15pm the hotel puts on a small spread of food as a late night snack.
This is free for everyone and usually consists of noodles or other local slow cooked food. It’s nothing fancy but a fun option to have should be you be peckish at that hour.
I enjoyed my stay at Westin Yilan. It is definitely aimed at the domestic market: I was one of the few Western guests staying, but to me that simply added to the charm.
It’s arguably more functional than luxurious, although the fantastic hot springs lift it up. Don’t come expecting marble bathrooms or world-class dining: this is more of a country resort, although even ‘resort’ may be pushing it given its small size – it’s on a much smaller scale to the ones you’d find in South East Asia.
Room rates at the Westin Yilan start from around £150 per night or 41,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. You can find out more, and book, on the hotel website here.