A lot of thought has gone into this new Shanghai property—some 20 years worth, in fact. The blocks where the Jing An now stands have slowly been added to the Shangri-La portfolio since 1993, with the hotel finally opening its doors in June. It’s now being touted as the company’s flagship, and for good reason: there are more than four million pieces of crystal gleaming throughout, vast expanses of marble (on the walls, the floors, the pillars), and some 207 pieces of artwork commissioned from 50 international artists. Rooms and suites offer understated luxury, with carpets designed to resemble Chinese watercolor paintings, heated bathroom floors, and 3-D TVs. The signature Summer Palace restaurant, designed by Hong Kong’s André Fu, comes with “dining chambers” that present different styles of Chinese cuisine, while a Mediterranean dining room is set to open by the end of the year and will occupy an external glasshouse with a rooftop bar. From here you’ll be able to gaze over the former residence of Chairman Mao, a 1920s building meticulously restored by the hotel group and transformed into a petite museum.
While futuristic Pudong is the setting for the next two Shanghai hotels on our list, Banyan Tree chose the up-and-coming North Bund area for its latest urban retreat. All 130 guest rooms and suites have views of the meandering Huangpu River and window-side soaking tubs from which to admire it; book one of the Panorama Oasis rooms for their three-meter-long heated dipping pools. A three-story Banyan Tree Spa and large subterranean swimming pools add to the resort feel. Dining is another pleasure: Iranian caviar is available at Oceans during the day, while traditional Cantonese dinners and fresh sushi and sashimi can be found at the elegant Ming Yuan and Tai Hei restaurants, respectively. And at Tops, the rooftop bar, you’ll enjoy creative cocktails and tapas against a backdrop of more stunning Shanghai vistas.
Shanghai’s second Four Seasons occupies a relatively convenient, if not particularly prestigious, position behind a trio of soaring skyscrapers in the Lujiazui financial district. Exuding “New China” glam, the lobby is bedecked with veined marble, crystal chandeliers, and a dramatic spiral staircase. The sleek guest rooms are well equipped (iPod docks, 46-inch TVs, hypoallergenic pillows), with splashes of deep-red stingray leather, ebony woods, and polished chrome complementing their star feature: dazzling city views, especially at night. On the food front, Shàng-Xí serves Chinese dishes given an artful molecular kick in a bijoux 22-seat dining room; the considerably less discreet Camelia (kitted out with flaming feature walls) offers separate wine and sushi bars plus a tucked-away garden terrace. Don’t forget to pack stylish swimwear, too, as the pool is simply sensational, with infinity edges encased by soaring glass walls that capture a breathtaking Skyfall-like panorama of Pudong’s mega-structures.
With a relaxed riverfront setting in Pudong’s new Harbour City development, this newcomer welcomes guests with a colorful glass mosaic by Chinese artist Miao Tong that stretches across its entire marble lobby; it’s one of 4,000 original artworks that jazz up the hotel’s soft-hued interiors. Well-considered details in the guest rooms extend to peony-embroidered silk bedspreads, Illy espresso machines, and bath potions by London perfumer Ormonde Jayne. The butterfly-themed spa is a highlight, offering TCM-inspired treatments alongside an arsenal of the latest-tech beauty machinery for non-surgical facelifts and electro-slimming. Two top chefs headline the dining program: Michelin-starred Richard Ekkebus oversees relaxed French steakhouse Fifty 8˚ Grill, while Yong Yi Ting serves up light-of-touch “south of the Yangtze” cuisine by Shanghainese chef Tony Lu. Making the most of the adjoining waterfront, guests can dine alfresco in lush gardens, join a Segway tour along the riverside promenade, or hop aboard a yacht for a sunset cruise.
Inspired by the 1930s red-brick villas and laneways of its surrounding neighborhood but given a bold contemporary twist by Swiss architect Mario Botta and New York’s Yabu Pushelberg, Twelve at Hengshan, part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, makes an ideal base for exploring Shanghai’s former French Concession area. Its facade is clad in 20,000 Italian terra-cotta bricks and encloses a number of nature elements, including an elliptical courtyard with a “secret garden” of bamboo groves, plum blossoms, and streams. Only half of the 171 rooms look out over the garden, but none lacks in appeal thanks to luxe features such as Hermès bath products and hand-painted screens. Also on hand is Sen Spa, complete with a tepidarium and heated indoor swimming pool.
PuLi Hotel and Spa, on the fringe of Shanghai’s Jingan Park, just off bustling Nanjing Road, is offering a “Weekend Retreat package.” Stay at the hotel over the weekend — arriving Friday, Saturday, or Sunday — and receive a complimentary 60-minute aroma spa treatment at Anantara Spa and daily breakfast at Jing’An restaurant, as well as free Internet, soft mini bar, and access to health club facilities. Rates start from US$315 per night for a Deluxe King room. The deal is valid until may 31.
Marriott’s lifestyle brand, Renaissance Hotels, plans to launch its sixth property in Shanghai around mid-year. Though it’s located in a business park (the Caohejing Hi-Tech park), the Renaissance Shanghai Caohejing should work from a leisure standpoint as well, putting visitors within a stroll of a metro station and three stops from the Xujiahui district. The latter is noted for its shopping (especially for electronics products), nightlife, a park, and cultural attractions like its old cathedral and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
The hotel has 350-plus rooms and suites with LCD TVs and iPod docking stations, over a dozen meeting rooms, and a 25th-floor lounge with panoramic views of Shanghai. Dining options include Wan Li, a modern Cantonese restaurant; Smoki Moto, a Korean barbecue with a Japanese twist; and BLD Cafe, an all-day buffet.
Marriott International is expanding rapidly in China. This year it’s signed deals for over two dozen additional hotels to join its portfolio in the country. In Shanghai it has 18 properties, with five more expected to open in the next five years.
Built in 1911 on the Bund waterfront, the gentlemen-only Shanghai Club was the most exclusive private club in the city’s “Pearl of the Orient” heyday. A century later, Asia’s first Waldorf Astoria has updated this neo-classic beauty for travelers with a taste for old-world charm. Styled with updated vintage glamor, the towering white marble columns, spiral staircase, and oak-paneled lounges have been faithfully restored.
The 20 heritage suites boast canopied beds and superlative river views (the best is from Room 304). Peacock Alley, a two-story promenade of deluxe dining and lounging, inspired by the original Waldorf-Astoria in New York, connects the old building with the new tower at the back. More alluring still is the legendary Long Bar, meticulously restored with Jacobean wooden walls, sepia-tinged portraits, dark leather sofas, and a replica of the famed 24-meter marble bar (plus a new oyster counter). A stiff drink here remains a Shanghai rite of passage.
Above: the hotel’s undulating ‘tree trunk’ facade.
The Jumeirah group’s first hotel in Asia is part of the Himalayas Center, a new cultural landmark on the outskirts of Shanghai. Designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, the Jumeirah Himalayas‘ (1108 Mei Hua Lu, Pudong; 86-21/3858-0888; jumeirah.com; doubles from US$248) undulating “tree trunk” facade and 14-story cylindrical atrium not only look impressive, but they are also infused with traditional feng shui principles to enhance the flow of positive energy.
The exterior at night.
Stepping inside the cavernous lobby, guests are greeted by a Ming-style rosewood pagoda, which hosts traditional musical performances by day and DJs by night. On the ceiling overhead, a huge LED screen beams calming Zen imagery. This Ming-meets-modern aesthetic continues in the 402 guest rooms, decorated in dark woods with updated moon tables and original artworks.
In line with all this positive energy, guests can join in early morning tai chi in the atrium and get closer to nature in the 5,000-square-meter rooftop Infinity Garden.–Amy Fabris-Shi
Originally appeared in the October/November 2011 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Modern Ming”)
Above: One of 15 garden mansions at Hotel Massenet. Photo by Todd Anthony Tyler
A historical road is courting Shanghai’s smart set with an ambitious lineup of food and cocktails
By Amy Fabris-Shi
During Shanghai’s 1920s and ’30s glory days, Rue Massenet (now Sinan Road) in the leafy French Concession was a neighborhood of writers, revolutionaries, artists, and gangsters. Now, the former stomping ground of luminaries such as poet Liu Yazi and philosopher Feng Youlan—not to mention Zhou Enlai, whose postwar residence has since been converted into a museum—is emerging as one of the city’s most audacious lifestyle enclaves.
At the center of it all is Sinan Mansions, a collection of 49 stripped-down and rebuilt heritage buildings on the corner of Fuxing Road. The villas now sport brand-new pebble-dash facades, russet-trimmed sash windows, and peaked gables, while the narrow alleys, or lilongs, between them have been landscaped into pedestrian plazas dotted with art installations and sidewalk tables.
David Laris at Yucca.
Despite the controversy surrounding the old neighborhood’s heavy-handed gentrification, Sinan Mansions is fast establishing a culinary buzz, with outlets by several Shanghai big guns. Leading the way is Australian chef David Laris, who has filled an entire three-story townhouse, No. 26F, with a quartet of gourmet concepts.
On the first floor, the Funky Chicken (86-21/3368-9525) rotisserie roasts its birds with tangy marinades like tamarind-barbecue and adobo-chipotle. One level up, accessed by an antique wooden stairway, the Fat Olive (86-21/3368-9524) is a mod-Mediterranean wine lounge serving Greek meze plates.
The mood switches on the third floor at Yucca (86-21/3368-9525), a Mexican “micro-lounge” done up in a kaleidoscope of mosaic floor tiles, fuchsia and aqua walls, and voodoo-inspired flourishes. Pull up a bright yellow barstool or sink into a sofa and sip a perfectly mixed martini while nibbling on quesadillas or chocolate-dipped churros. A hot-pink spiral staircase leads to a semi-private loft lounge. Laris’s pièce de résistance is 12 Chairs (86-21/ 3330-3920), a private dining room that seats a dozen guests. The sophisticated degustation menu here (it changes monthly, but courses have included foie gras–stuffed pigeon and lamb rack with black garlic puree, braised prunes, and Jerusalem artichokes) is paired with a selection of rare vintage wines from the adjoining cellar.
Marinated-vegetable quesadillas at Yucca.
Across the courtyard, exuberant chef Eduardo Vargas taps his Peruvian provenance at Chicha (Block 33; 86-21/6418-0760). His downstairs lounge pours creative cocktails spiked with South American spirits (try the Peruvian pisco sour) accompanied by traditional piqueos, or small plates. But Vargas at his most raw and ravishing can be found in the candlelit upstairs dining parlor, where patrons choose from a seven- or 12-course set menu of piquant seviches, tiraditos (raw fish marinated in lime juice), causas (potato dump-lings topped with various meats), and other home-style favorites.
Lounge seating at Kelley Lee’s The Alchemist. Photo by Todd Anthony Tyler
Next door, mixology goes molecular at The Alchemist (Block 32; 86-21/6426-0660). This stylish two-story lounge, by American-Chinese restaurateur Kelley Lee, has a hint of chemistry-chic in its old apothecary drawers and atom-esque chandeliers. Australian bartender Ryan Noreiks delivers cocktails like the Yangtze River Tea—a sorbet-like concoction of Chinese baijiu, tequila, dark rum, and citrus served alongside a demitasse of spiced jasmine tea—and the Divine Aromatic, with gin, Aperol, rhubarb bitters, bruised pineapple, and Campari cotton candy. Thought-provoking bar bites include popcorn pig brain and smoked amberjack tartare topped with ponzu foam. If that sounds a little too eclectic, the third branch of Lee’s popular Boxing Cat Brewery (Block 26A; 86-21/6426-0360) is also on-site, serving house-brewed ales and pulled-pork sandwiches.
Flanking the dining precinct, tucked behind well-guarded gates, is Hotel Massenet (51 Sinan Lu; 86-21/3401-9998; no website). Shanghai’s most exclusive—or at least expensive—boutique property comprises 15 butler-serviced mansions that are rented en bloc for a cool US$5,340 a night. Two other villas on the manicured grounds host a French dining room and a Cantonese restaurant. Yet the most beguiling thing about this end of Sinan may be what lies across the street: a cluster of dilapidated houses, vacant and ivy-draped, that will soon be gutted for Sinan Mansions’ second phase of development. For now, though, they provide a nostalgic glimpse of the neighborhood’s not-so-distant past.
Originally appeared in the April/May 2011 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Sinan’s New Flavor”)