“It was a magical place,” says the late novelist J.G. Ballard of Shanghai, where he grew up before migrating to the United Kingdom. While Ballard was referring to the city’s idyllic pre-World War II days, his words will ring true even now, though for different reasons.
Shanghai has turned into a glitzy town with massive, cloud-touching skyscrapers, an exciting restaurant scene (it has its own Michelin guide), and 24-hour, pumping parties. It still is magical—just in a different way.
Joining the city’s happy fray is a new hotel, W Shanghai-The Bund. The 274-room property sits in between Suzhou Creek and Huangpu River and is surrounded by Art Deco buildings and massive mansions. Owned by Sinar Mas, the interiors were designed by G.A. Design, and embody hai pai, or the art of combining old elements with new. For example, its lobby is illuminated with neon light installations, which are inspired by crisscrossing clotheslines found in the city’s alleys.
True to the brand’s DNA, its rooms display sheer, youthful charm. There are cute xiaolongbao (dumpling) pillows and chopsticks that adorn some of the rooms. One of the suites, Cloud on the Bund, comes with a hanging bed. But perhaps nothing beats Extreme WOW Suite, a 4,000-square-meter room that has a massive pair of lips blowing out smoke.
Gourmands can troop to the New York bistro-inspired The Kitchen Table or Cantonese dining joint Yen. Spirits concocted by a “Cocktail Professor” are available at Liquid at Yen, which exudes a 1920s vibe perfect for after-work bottoms up sessions.