Shanghai Hotels: The Waterhouse at South Bund

  •  A guest room at the Waterhouse.

    A guest room at the Waterhouse.

  • River views from the hotel’s rooftop lounge space.

    River views from the hotel’s rooftop lounge space.

  • Tuna tartare at Table No. 1.

    Tuna tartare at Table No. 1.

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Above: Shuttered windows look out onto an internal courtyard.

Reinventing a once derelict factory in China’s second city.

By Amy Fabris-Shi

First impressions Shanghai’s pre-Expo makeover may have layered on the gloss, but one of the city’s most exciting new hotels takes a refreshingly pared-back approach. Occupying a refashioned 1930s factory in the old Shiliupu dockyards, the Waterhouse at South Bund is the first China property by Loh Lik Peng, the Singaporean hotelier behind the New Majestic in Singapore and the just-opened Town Hall Hotel in East London. Behind an unobtrusive copper-and-concrete facade, the boutique billet’s jagged industrial framework is offset by designer furnishings and sleek architectural adaptations that delight its creative-minded guests. Some, however, may find the service a little too rough around the edges.

The Waterhouse lies at the less exclusive end of Shanghai’s Bund riverfront. Apart from the Cool Docks next door—a hub of shops, restaurants, and clubs aimed squarely at a suburban clientele—there’s little of interest in the immediate vicinity. Still, it’s just a short drive to Pudong, the old quarter, and the North Bund, a ride made all the more memorable in the sidecar of a vintage motorcycle, which can be booked through the hotel.

Each of the 19 rooms is uniquely defined by the original architecture, and overlooks either a narrow courtyard or the Huangpu River. Decorated in stark white and blonde wood with concrete-walled bathrooms, guest quarters feature iPod docks, large bathtubs, and Illy espresso machines; some come with terraces. The best are the two 54-square-meter River Suites, which have double-story windows framing water views.

The Waterhouse’s casual 60-seat restaurant, Table No. 1, is Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton’s first independent restaurant since his high-profile departure from Gordon Ramsay’s Maze in London. Inspired combinations like a sorbet of crab, avocado, and sweet corn are served at long communal tables. The set breakfast (included in the room rate) is a less-inspired affair.

The cocktail bar on the spacious fourth-story rooftop is surrounded by artfully rusted walls and unobstructed views of the Huangpu River and Pudong.

1–3 Maojiayuan Rd., Shanghai, China; 86-21/6080- 2988;; doubles from US$176.

Originally appeared in the August/September 2010 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“The Waterhouse at South Bund, Shanghai”)

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