Updated: 3 days ago
I got to know about Adagio (缓慢民宿) in 2009 when I stayed at Adagio Fenchihu (缓慢奋起湖) when exploring Taiwan's popular attraction, Alishan National Scenic Area (阿里山国家风景区). Ever since that first stay at Adagio Fenchihu, I had not encountered a better home stay or hotel that can surpass the unique experience provided by Adagio. I knew then I will be back again.
But Adagio closed the branch at Fenchihu after a typhoon destroyed part of the forest train railway to Fenchihu in 2009 (3 months after my visit). The damage caused the number of visitors to Fenchihu to dropped drastically as tour buses bypassed the little town and headed to Alishan directly. I was really disappointed with the closure. Luckily, Adagio has another 2 outlets on the eastern coast of Taiwan — in Shihtiping, Hualien (石梯坪, 花莲) and Jinguashi (金瓜石) near Jiufen (九分).
It is also due to the insistence of wanting to stay at Adagio Shihtiping (缓慢石梯坪) that I got to know about Shihtiping Scenic Recreation Area (石梯坪游息区), and the surroundings, which I shared in an earlier article.
Including the "Adagio Experience", which I am about to share, there should be 7 Wonderful Things to do in Shihtiping (or shitiping).
Adagio is designed with a home stay concept, so there is no staff, only "housekeepers". The guests are treated like "owners".
The Chinese name for Adagio is "缓慢", meaning "slow". It does not mean that the housekeepers are slow in their services, but more for the guests to relax and slow down their paces when staying at Adagio. In Adagio's words: "Slow down a little, the soul will be able to catch up".
Let's check out the common areas in Adagio Shihtiping.
This is the ground floor's common area or lounge. Checking-in to Adagio is done on these sofas, not standing at a "check-in" counter. The lounge area is actually much bigger than shown in the photo and with a piano in one corner.
The dining area with simple and yet classy design. In one corner are some art exhibits made with drift woods, the artist is of Amis descend.
Adagio has its own range of fragrance products, named "Lavender Cottage", made with natural ingredients like lavender, rose, etc. Apart from flower-scented perfumes, lotions, shower gels, etc, they have scented cookies and flavoured vinegar too. These products are available for sales in a corner of Adagio.
The common area on the second floor with shelves of books (not in the photo) for leisure reading. There are games and jigsaw puzzles too.
On the third floor, a pantry with cooking appliances are available for guests to prepare their own simple meals and beverages. But with Adagio's unique dining experience (read further), there is no need to prepare own meals.
And yet another common area with a telescope that can zoom out to the Pacific Ocean.
Three levels with different styles and feels. The experience is guaranteed to be different. Welcome to Adagio.
The Sea-View Room
Adagio has its unique way of preparing for check-in. First, guests will be asked to pick a key chain from a tray. This will determine their rooms. The first to check-in will naturally get to choose from all the choices available. Of course, the last to arrive will not have any choice. But not to worry, since the rooms are selected by picking key chains, not by previewing the rooms, early-comers will not always be the one to pick the "best" room.
Based on Adagio's standard, all rooms are the best. Probably some differences in layout. But, once you seen the room, any differences won't matter at all.
Next, apply lotions of different fragrance on the hands and pick the most desired flavour. The hand soap, body lotion, shower gel, shampoo and cream rinse (hair conditioner) in the room will have the selected fragrance, including the scent in the bedroom.
And this is the sea-view room for two. It is not like a hotel room with just a bed but has a living area with television and sofa — more like a home. The room is very spacious with an additional couch. On the table is a CD player with a specially-selected CD titled "Gifts of Grace" by Grace Bawden.
You can imagine the atmosphere — spacious room, nice scent, relaxing music.
And a balcony facing the sea with a small couch, which is a great place for viewing sunrise without getting out of the room.
The spacious bathroom has separate cubicles for shower and relief.
The bathtub in the shower is accompanied with a bottle of bath salt. The design of the bathroom allows soaking in the bathtub and enjoying the views outside the window at the same time (just draw the curtains when getting in and out).
And the toilet bowl is plugged! It is a Japanese-style toilet bowl with automated washing capabilities and seat warmer.
Both cubicles have heating functions to warm up the air inside before using, especially on cooler days.
Isn't this home stay better than hotels?
Adagio's Unique Dining Experience
Adagio Shihtiping's special dinner is fine-dining style and named "山海慢食" — translated as "enjoying food from the mountain and sea slowly". There is no menu. All the ingredients are gathered from around Shihtiping and Hualien. Since Shihtiping is near to the sea, most of the ingredients will be seafood.
As the ingredients are usually seasonal, the dishes will change with seasons. Staying at Adagio at different time of the year will have different dining experience. This means that what you will taste will definitely be different from what I am showing here.
First, the welcome drink (欢迎醋). This is lavender vinegar with roselle petals (洛神花). The vinegar-soaked petals are edible and crunchy. The acidity readied the stomach for more food to come.
The starter (山珍海味) is prepared with ingredients from the mountains and seas. So, this dish has all the simple tastes of both land and sea on one plate.
Next, a sashimi dish with big prawns, chunky salmon cuts and seaweeds. Even the wasabi is made in Taiwan.
During the flying fish season, the main course will normally be grilled flying fish. This main dish has two flying fishes, topped with generous amount of fish roes and accompanied by some shellfishes. And also varieties of greens and pumpkin too. Accompanying this dish is a glass of Amis-made local rice wine, a Hualien specialty.
"山海交响饭食" means "rice with symphony of ingredients from mountain and sea". The short-grain rice is from the paddies around Shihtiping with prawn and seaweeds from the sea and veggies and eggs from the land.
There is also a self-serving time! Diners will pick their own selection of raw vegetables and boil them in hot water briefly. Boiling too long will result in the nutrients being drained away.
Then, add the desired sauces to the veggies to each's liking. The minced meat sauce is Adagio's specialty, so it is a must try.
And, the completed veggie dish below with various sauces. This activity-dish is called "乐活汆烫" or "happy boiling". Taste your own concoction — it shouldn't be very bad.
Finishing up the meal is a bowl of chicken soup with rattan palm (藤心鸡汤).
By the way, the housekeepers will also explain about the ingredients used during the dining session. So, it is not just about eating and tasting the food, but include knowing what are being eating and where they come from.
In the photo, the housekeeper was explaining about the thorny rattan palm, which was used in the chicken soup.
Bringing up the rear is none other than some desserts from the aborigine Amis people (阿美甜心).
Enjoying the full course of the dinner is about 1.5 hours.
This special dinner costs NT$600 per pax (charged separately since it is optional) and is available for stay-in guests only. Reservation for the dinner is required at least one day in advance. All guests are required to be seated by a set time. It's an interactive session.
Is this dining experience an attraction itself?
Adagio's Breakfast Set
Wake up in the morning and look forward to Adagio's signature breakfast, called "九宮朝食" or "9-Grid Morning Meal". It is a nutritious selection of 9 dishes completed with meat, fish, eggs, veggies and fruits to go with porridge. Each breakfast set is for two persons.
And an extra dish with a piece of flying fish during the season (from April to October).
The breakfast set is included with the rooms.
Room & Dinner Reservations
Advance reservation is strongly recommended as this popular home stay gets fully booked most of the time. It is also necessary to reserve the dinner at least a day before check-in as the housekeepers need to prepare the ingredients and in case the quota for the desired night runs out.
Official website: www.theadagio.com.tw (Traditional Chinese only)
Book with Agoda.com for English confirmation slip and using non-Taiwanese credit cards (some Taiwanese websites do not accept overseas credit cards). Specify the number of diners for the night(s) in the comment section when booking.
For cheaper lodging options, Adagio operates a budget home stay, called Adagio Reindeer Hualien 118 (缓慢寻路石梯湾118), just a hundred metres away.
For those who understands Chinese, Reindeer is "驯鹿" in Chinese but Adagio plays with the words and uses the same syllabus words "寻路" (seeking the path) as its Chinese name. In Adagio's concept, "寻路" applies to travellers as in "travel to find the way".
Apart from having a home stay in Shihtiping, Adagio also has similar setups in Hualien Cultural Creative Industries Park (花莲文化创意产业园区 or simply as 花莲文创) and Jinguashi (金瓜石) in Taiwan and an overseas branch in Hokkaido, Japan.
In addition, most of the activities around Shihtiping are nature-related and aboriginal. They offer more varieties (check the link below) from the all-too-common beach destinations. Both Shihtiping and Adagio make a great getaway spot for those who seek adventures, recreation and relaxation at the same time in a close-to-nature environment.
Hope you enjoy some great holidays at Adagio!