Kawaii dreams

Families visiting Kaohsiung, Taiwan, can immerse themselves in the world of Sanrio characters in Grand Hilai Kaohsiung's impeccably themed accommodation.

Written by Jeni Bone

10 March 2024


The centrally situated Grand Hilai Kaohsiung, with views over Kaohsiung Harbour and Horizon City Marina, is a 540-room hotel with 13 restaurants, health club, gym, outdoor pool, a multi-million-dollar art collection, impressive food hall in its basement and the prestigious Hanshin Department Store above.

But of most acclaim, particularly with families, is the hotel’s utterly whimsical and endearing Sanrio-themed rooms and suites.

Located on the 26th floor, the 18 rooms are dedicated to the Japanese cult-character Hello Kitty and her colourful colleagues, including My Melody, Kuromi, Keroppi, Badtz-Maru and others.

Hello Kitty, celebrating 50 years of kawaii (cuteness) this year, has several rooms styled in her honour, including the Hello Kitty Elegant Parisian Chic Family Suite, a two-bedroom plus playroom confection that would delight devotees of all ages; the Hello Kitty American College Style Superior Room; and the Hello Kitty Navy Sailor Premium Family Room with distinctive marine-themed décor and dazzling Harbour views.


The My Melody Princess Fairy Tale Premium Family Room recreates the lush, fantasy forest Hello Kitty’s best friend the rabbit loves to roam.

The Kuromi Gothic Lolita Superior Room with its bold black and purple palette is cool enough to attract cos-play aficionados of all ages, who just love dressing to theme and of course, snapping selfies for social media.

Then there’s the Sanrio Fantasy Room which is a spacious playroom with room for young travellers to spread out, stretch their legs, colour in, take pictures and frolic in the wonderland that the characters inspire.

The Sanrio-themed rooms come complete with similarly-adorned toiletries, robes and flip-flops, guaranteed to elicit squeals of delight.

Every detail from carpet to ceiling and all décor items have been painstakingly crafted in keeping with the Japanese aesthetic of these iconic figurines, created by Yuko Shimizu in the 1970s.

The renovation was undertaken during the peak of COVID, when travel restrictions and quarantine were in place. TSK Design was commissioned to undertake the project, which took six months and cost 20 million NTD, close to AUD$1 million.

According to the hotel’s Marketing Assistant Angelina Chen, the premium-priced rooms are very popular, particularly on weekends, with tourists and locals alike. “They have been popular since they opened at the end of 2020.

“Designed from the ground up, all works had to be approved by Sanrio – families really enjoy the themed rooms, as do guests who like the nostalgia and fun of dressing up.”

Kaohsiung is a bustling port city and manufacturing hub at the southwestern tip of Taiwan, specialising in steel-making, oil refining, freight transport and shipbuilding.

Known as Taiwan’s Maritime Capital, it’s home to Horizon Group, comprising Horizon yacht, Vision Shipyard, Premier Shipyard, Horizon City Marina as well as Atech Composites; and the boat builders Ocean Alexander, Jade Yachts, Johnson Yachts, Kha Shing and several stainless steel and composite manufacturers.

The “extremely cheerful and kind” symbol of friendship worldwide, Hello Kitty, aka Kitty White, is celebrating 50 years in 2024.

Sanrio Japan is commemorating the occasion with anniversary merchandise across every genre of product, from AirPods to Crocs, all kinds of apparel and soft toys, and fans can meet her in person at the theme parks, hotels, stores, restaurants and pop-ups dedicated to Japan’s favourite fluffy feline.



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