Above: Park Hyatt’s 92nd-floor lounge, 100 Century Avenue.
Once considered the “wrong” side of the river, Shanghai’s newly minted Pudong district is coming into its own.
By Amy Fabris-Shi
The snaking Huangpu River splits Shanghai in two. To the west, Concession-era architecture, posh boutiques, and glitzy nightclubs characterize the old city of Puxi. And to the east, there’s Pudong, the epitome of “new” China with its broad boulevards and angular skyscrapers—a business hub often overlooked by pleasure-seeking travelers in favor of the more atmospheric neighborhoods across the river. But as its gargantuan makeover nears completion before the 2010 World Expo, Pudong—home to the world’s highest hotel and fastest train (the Maglev airport link)—is giving visitors reason to linger.
Where To Stay
Pudong’s hotel scene is fast evolving, with Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and W all set to open here by the end of 2010. The top pick for now is the new Park Hyatt Shanghai (100 Century Ave.; 86-21/6888-1234; parkhyattshanghai.com; doubles from US$732). Perched between floors 79 and 93 of the Shanghai World Financial Centre, the world’s tallest hotel is styled as a modern Chinese residence. It offers 174 vertiginous rooms—not to mention the highest spa, bar, and restaurant on the planet. Newer still, The H Hotel (88 Weifang Lu; 86-21/5882-8882; the-h-hotel.com; doubles from US$100) has 99 rooms designed to pay tribute to the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel.
The Grand Tower at Pudong Shangri-La (33 Fucheng Lu; 86-21/6882-8888; shangri-la.com; doubles from US$344) offers 375 rooms, the Himalayan-themed Chi Spa, and an array of dining options, including molecular gastronomy at Jade on 36. Nearby, the 360-room Radisson Pudong Century Park (1199 Yingchun Lu; 86-21/5130-0000; radisson.com; doubles from US$220) bills itself as an “art hotel,” with an impressive collection of contemporary art to balance the all-white rooms.
Where To Eat
In the wooded grounds of the Dongjiao State Guest Hotel, Face Pudong (1800 Jinke Lu; 86-21/5027-8261) comprises a quartet of restaurants and lounges—Lan Na Thai, El Wajh (Moroccan), Hazara (Indian), and Face Bar—that spill onto manicured lawns and open terraces. Oriental antiques, classic regional flavors, and an exotic Silk Road vibe are the hallmarks of the Face group, whose original Shanghai venue at Puxi’s Ruijin Guesthouse closed late last year.
Beautifully styled with emerald-green glass, striking scarlet armchairs, water channels, and an open kitchen, South Beauty (10/F, Superbrand Mall, 168 Lujiazui Xilu; 86-21/5047-1917) specializes in refined Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine. The wraparound 10th-floor river views are as jaw-dropping as the food is tongue-numbing. For a taste of Italian, head to the Kitchen by Salvatore Cuomo (2967 Lujiazui Xilu; 86-21/5054-1265). This waterside trattoria commands sparkling views across to the Neoclassical facades of the Bund, and its wood-fired oven turns out Shanghai’s best pizzas.
Taiwanese diner Din Tai Fung (3/F, Superbrand Mall, 168 Lujiazui Xilu; 86-21/5047-8882) specializes in exquisite Shanghainese xiaolongbao: wafer-thin steamed dumplings with a scalding, soupy filling. Another worthy stop is Lapis Lazuli (2-3/F, Thumb Plaza, No. 19, Lane 199, Fangdian Lu; 86-21/5033-9223), where locals flock for classic Thai and creative Continental dishes. The alfresco settings here are superb; be sure to grab one of the Thai-style opium beds on the terrace.
For a sweet treat, House of Flour (635 Bibo Lu, beside Zhangjiang High-Tech Park Station; 86-21/5080-6230) overflows with mouthwatering pastries crafted by globetrotting Malaysian chef Brian Tan.
Where To Drink
The world’s loftiest lounge sits on the 92nd floor of the Park Hyatt hotel. 100 Century Avenue’s Western Bar hosts live jazz and serves killer cocktails; try the Ginger Pina Mojito. The adjacent Oriental Bar is a cozier affair, with a red Art Deco–inspired design and classic Shanghai ballroom dancing several nights a week.
Homegrown bar chain Blue Frog (G/F, No. 27, Superbrand Mall, 168 Lujiazui Xilu; 86-21/5047-3488) is one of the smartest venues along a small strip outside the Superbrand Mall. Split-level seating and a wooden terrace dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers raises the bar, as do the daily 4–8 p.m. happy hours. Malone’s (No. 17, Thumb Plaza, Lane 199 Fangdian Lu; 86-21/5033-6717) is another popular Puxi import, offering draught beers, live music, a large pub-food menu, pool tables, and a bustling evening vibe.
Where To Shop
China’s largest shopping complex, Superbrand Mall (168 Lujiazui Xilu; superbrandmall.com), is a mind-blowing shrine to consumerism. Spread over 13 floors, the 250,000-square-meter space offers everything from high-street boutiques to an Egyptian-themed cineplex and an ice-skating rink.
On the ground floor of the Shangri-La hotel, Shanghai Tang (86-21/5877-6632) stocks a selection of chic East-meets-West homewares, accessories, and clothes. Designs come in distinctive lime green and neon pink, with funky flourishes like mahjongg-tile buttons and motifs inspired by Shanghai’s Art Deco window grills.
Picnic supplies are now easy to come by thanks to the new Y’s Table, a gourmet food hall in the basement of the Shanghai World Financial Centre. Stop by Bottega delicatessen (86-21/6877-6865) for fresh- baked apricot croissants, organic salads, antipasto, and wine. Need a park to lay out the hamper spread? Shanghai’s largest, Century Park, is only a short bike ride away.
Art aficionados will want to stop in at the Zendai Museum of Modern Art (No. 28, Thumb Plaza, Lane 199, Fangdian Lu; 86-21/5033-9801; zendaiart.com). Exhibitions at this inventive space range from Chinese ink-wash paintings to urban installations. A quirky museum store sells art books and design accessories.
Where To Spa
With a name meaning “life’s 10 pleasures,” Shile Boutique Lifestyle Centre (No.1, Lane 599, Fangdian Lu, Century Park; 86-21/5033-9113) is a stylish retreat with a modern Shanghai twist. Housed in Zen-like surrounds designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, it offers Chinese fine dining, an art gallery, and one of the city’s most select spas—therapists perform only three treatments a day to ensure the full effect of their healing energy is passed on to guests.
Around the corner, sample ancient Khmer healing traditions at the three-story, Angkor-themed Apsara Spa (290 Jinyan Lu, Century Park; 86-21/5059-0301). The decadent six-hour Celestial Day package combines head-to-toenail treatments along with a spa lunch on the bamboo terrace overlooking the Zhangjiabang River.
Originally appeared in the April 2009 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Eastern Promise”)