Hidden in a charming corner of the city’s former French Concession, Capella Shanghai transforms one of the largest remaining pockets of traditional shikumen laneways into a romantic all-villa urban resort.
Built in the 1930s by French settlers, the estate originally comprised 200 two-story houses connected by narrow red-brick alleyways and lush inner courtyards. It’s now home to just 55 villas and 40 private residences, and the once-bustling alleys are a tranquil guest-only retreat adorned with climbing roses and bronze sculptures. Each one- to four-bedroom villa comes with living and entertainment rooms, bedrooms, marble bathrooms, and a rooftop terrace, all connected by a steep stairwell as per the original layout. Interiors by the late Jaya Ibrahim (this was his final project) are a fresh update on 1930s French-chinoiserie sophistication in warm golden tones, with lofty ceilings and traditional red wood-framed windows enhancing the sense of heritage indulgence. Then there’s le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire, which serves exquisitely considered yet refreshingly simple French cuisine. Like Capella Shanghai itself, it’s proof that classic elegance never goes out of style.
86-21/5466-6688; Capella Shanghai; villas from US$687
This article originally appeared in the October/November 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“The Luxe List 2017: Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li”).