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The cherry on top of my first-time trip to Taiwan was an outrageously special stay at Hoshinoya Guguan near Taichung – a luxurious Japanese hot spring resort. The whole experience was spectacular. 

During the mountain retreat I stayed in one of their Yue rooms, had my very first onsen public bath experience, toured the historical Guguan area, and rounded off the stay with an incredible Kaiseki dinner. 

Not only was this my first encounter with an esteemed Hoshino Resort, but also, with trying an onsen.

So in this post I’m sharing my full Hoshinoya Guguan review, including a recap of what the food and onsen experience were like, and some tips on things to do in Guguan. Keep reading!

Disclosure: please note that my stay at Hoshinoya Guguan was sponsored as part of a press commission for a travel feature, for which I was the photographer. All opinions however remain honest and my own. 

Hoshinoya Guguan Review: Luxury Hot Springs in Taichung

Hoshinoya Guguan Review: Luxury onsen hot spring in Taiwan

Hoshinoya Guguan Review: Yue Room

Our Mountain-Facing Suite with Private Onsen

My jaw dropped when we were shown to our mountain-facing suite.

Elegant rooms of polished exposed timber with clean eyelines were made grander by the sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows that showed the green brilliance of the yawning mountain forests outside. A perfectly placed tatami mat beckoned us for to lounge right in front of the view, and behind that was a plush king bed to lay our heads for the night. 

Downstairs, on the suite’s second floor, was the pièce de résistance: a stunning glass balcony that revealed a square onsen ensconced in granite that flowed with ever-trickling mineral spring water. Slate floor tiles led to private slatted sliding doors that dramatically drew back to unveil the lush mountains beyond the balcony.

Luxury Face Products and Toiletries

The bathroom was replete with luxe toiletries including moisturising face masks, face toner and face lotion, as well as small furoshiki knot bags that you could bring along to the public baths.

Hoshinoya Guguan Review: Luxury onsen hot spring in Taiwan

Hoshinoya Guguan Review: A Luxury Onsen Experience

Just like a Japanese ryokan, Hoshinoya Guguan has public baths and in-room private onsen baths.

Public Bath Onsen

Prior to Hoshinoya Guguan I had never experienced a Japanese onsen before. I have been in mineral baths and hot springs, but this marked my first time specifically experiencing the public onsen that is divided by gender and where you have to enter the baths totally naked.

Luckily for a shy person like myself (or rather, someone not used to being nude around strangers), the onsen was totally empty apart from my female friend and I, so we both went in once it was dark and had the most wonderful experience of rinsing ourselves, simmering in the steaming hot onsen pools, counterbalancing it by dipping into the cold pool and braving the cold waterfall, going into the sauna to reopen our pores, and back again. I felt utterly at peace.

Private Room Onsen

The onsen in our room was just as relaxing, and came with a small umezawa wooden bucket for bathing in. You could choose to have cold or hot mineral water coming in. My companion and I tried both until we got a nice warm temperature.

Each time I left the onsen, my skin felt so soft and rejuvenated. I slept incredibly well after the bathing experience – the best I’d slept in the whole week we were travelling Taiwan. 

Congee Breakfast at Hoshinoya Guguan Review - Taichung City - Luxury Onsen in Taiwan Mountains

Congee breakfast at Hoshinoya Guguan

Hoshinoya Guguan Review: Japanese Breakfast and Kaiseki Experience

Hoshinoya Guguan’s food offerings were superb.

From the intricate Kaiseki dinner, to the sensorily stimulating Japanese bento breakfast, down to the humble but delicious snacks and tea they offered in the lobby and lounges, I felt the hospitality and warmth of Hoshinoya through the way they generously ensured guests stay well fed.

Breakfast at Hoshinoya Guguan

The Japanese Breakfast didn’t disappoint: they served up tofu hot-pot with vegetables, fresh tuna with yam, chawanmushi with abalone and shrimp, Japanese rolled omelette, grilled fish (an incredible teriyaki salmon), rice, miso soup, and seasonal fruits.

Our companion ordered the Congee Breakfast which looked just as delightful: it came with scallop congee cooked with chicken broth, vegetable nanban-zuke, Shaoxing Drunken Chicken, Hakka-style salty pork, douhua (soy pudding), and seasonal fruits.

Kaiseki Dinner at Hoshinoya Guguan

The traditional multi-course Kaiseki dinner featured 9 small plates that took us on a journey from sea to land through perfectly executed innovative dishes created by their head chef, who recently changed their menu.

By dessert we felt wonderfully full and enriched by every single course – we unanimously agreed it was one of the best meals we’d ever had, let alone just in Taiwan. From sea urchin, milkfish, and wagyu to matcha salt, black rice ice cream and hot sake, I felt like I’d experienced the best of Japanese cuisine merged with Taiwanese spirit and ingredients.

Bai Leng Popsicles available at Hoshinoya Guguan

After dinner, we still had space for a cheeky (and famous) Bai Leng popsicle (白冷冰棒 ), which were stocked in a freezer in the Hoshinoya lounge for a post-Onsen snack.

These ice lollies were unbelievably tasty. Produced by a famous popsicle vendor in the region, they offer unique local flavours including pine green, milk, sour plum, red bean milk, green bean milk, longan and champagne.

Our taxi driver brought us to the original popsicle shop as we drove back down to Taichung City. My favourite flavours were pine (so refreshing), milk, and red bean milk! You can check out the popsicle spot here.

Hoshinoya Guguan Review: Things To Do In Guguan

Amenities and Ambience

In the sprawling manicured grounds of Hoshinoya Guguan, there are multiple little cabins and rest houses with pillows and tables in the forest area and dotted between the pools and streams.

There is also a large heated swimming pool with plenty of loungers dotted around to rest and recover. I didn’t have a chance to dip my toes in the pool, because I spent my time mostly in the onsen, but it looked lovely.

Guguan Walking Tour

Hoshinoya Guguan arranged a walking tour around Guguan for us on our final morning.

I found out that there are several onsen experiences around Guguan (though I am absolutely certain that Hoshinoya is the best) and the area is fantastic for hiking different trails too, thanks to its mountain surroundings. We learned about the native population in Guguan and also about the various animals that occupy the forests – including bears!

We crossed over a large valley via a red suspension bridge and learned the fascinating history of Japanese occupation and conflict in the area. We also stopped at an interesting museum called the Guguan Visitor Centre.

Hoshinoya Guguan Review: Is it worth staying at Hoshinoya Guguan?

I’ll conclude this Hoshinoya Guguan review by asserting that Hoshinoya Guguan is one of the best hotels in Taiwan.

You will not regret spending time here. It’s the perfect blend of mountain retreat, Japanese onsen culture, and Taiwanese hospitality. Book your stay at Hoshinoya Guguan.

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Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.