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Shu Shu House: A Serene Mountain Retreat in Jiufen, Taiwan


Shu Shu House: A Serene Mountain Retreat in Jiufen, Taiwan

March 25, 2021

In the ’90s, I studied abroad in Taiwan for a semester my junior year of college. One of the most memorable experiences I had on the island was a trip I took with fellow students to Jiufen, a mountain town not too far from Taipei. The former mining village is known for its serpentine alleys and old-fashioned teahouses, a rustic counterpoint to the urban capitol.

I remember during that trip, a half dozen or so of us crammed into one room at an inn—we somehow managed to fit onto two mattresses, pushed together, atop a tatami mat floor (Japanese design influence is strong on the island). The accommodations felt spare but charming to my 19-year-old self.

Today, I’d much prefer a stay at Shu Shu House. The small cottage is owned by photographer Ivy Chen and floral artist Alfie Lin, founder of CN Flower. Like our room at the inn, it’s simple. Yet, it’s so artfully appointed and situated (tucked into a mountainside) that it feels luxurious—a welcome respite from modern plugged-in life.

No TV, weak internet access, breathtaking views, and a real bed. I’m officially putting Shu Shu House on my to-visit list.

Here’s a look.

Photography by Suiyu Studio.

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Above: It’s easy to miss the stairs to Shu Shu House. Roughly translated, “shu shu” means “counting trees.”
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Above: From the outside, Shu Shu House looks like the weathered concrete houses typical in the area.
Shu Shu House A Serene Mountain Retreat in Jiufen Taiwan portrait 4_22
Above: The inside is another story. It’s appointed with antiques and vintage finds, slowly amassed by Lin. The home was originally meant to be the couple’s private retreat, but after friends inquired about weekend stays, they now rent it out as well.
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Above: Before moving in, the couple refinished the wood floors and painted them. They also added new and more windows, the better to appreciate the treetop views of East China Sea.
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Above: An antique German workbench now used as a desk. The humble is celebrated in this cabin, where utilitarian objects like dusters and brooms are displayed like art.
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Above: Lin’s love for plants on display.
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Above: Shu Shu House is composed of one main open room that encompasses the living space and a bed. There is no kitchen so that visitors are encouraged to patronize local restaurants, coffee shops, and teahouses.
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Above: The antique Chinese doors behind the bed belonged to the former homeowner, a calligraphist.
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Above: Off the main room is a bathroom. There is no mirror above the sink, just a window to the outdoors.
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Above: A soaking tub with a view.
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Above: On the ground level is a spacious spa bathroom.
Shu Shu House A Serene Mountain Retreat in Jiufen Taiwan portrait 4_31
Above: A copper soaking tub. From Shu Shu House’s Facebook page: “In short, although there is no TV or DVD in Shu Shu House, it will not be boring. As long as you’re someone who knows how to enjoy peace and relaxation…”
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Above: The other side of the spa bathroom. Simple linen shades are used throughout the home.

You can find more information about Shu Shu House on Facebook and Instagram.

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