Shanghai - located on China’s central coast - is unlike anywhere else in the People's Republic.
One of the most populated cities in China and the country’s financial hub, Shanghai had humble beginnings as a fishing village, rising in significance during the 19th century as its role on the Yangtze River increased. Labelled the ‘Paris of the Orient’ in the 1930s, the city became a global trendsetter for Art Decor, high fashion and opera. Known for fusing Western with Eastern culture, it has its distinct cuisine, lifestyle and dialect. Shanghai’s heart is the Bund, a mile-long waterfront promenade along the Huangpu River and one of the most iconic spots in the city. A living museum from the 1800s with various styles of architecture including Gothic, baroque, and neoclassical. The best way to appreciate the Bund is to walk it. Across the river is Pudong, symbolic of Shanghai's rapid development and home to some of the world's tallest buildings including Shanghai Tower and the famed Oriental Pearl Television Tower with its distinctive pink spheres.
The BusinessClass.com guide to the best hotels in Shanghai:
The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong - 9/10
At the core of the city’s financial district and offering sweeping views across the ever-flowing Huangpu River and historical Bund, The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong guarantees an unforgettable Shanghai visit. Seamlessly complementing its Art Deco heritage with a brilliant contemporary design. Located in a stylish 58-floor tower, the intimate hexagonal lobby sets an indulgent tone with crimson upholstered walls, plush sitting areas and decadent chandeliers. The 1949 rooms and 59 suites are wood-panelled with flourishes of the orient in the artistic metal screens and textured wall coverings. Marble bathrooms add to the glam with huge winged bathtubs, gold curtains and fragrant Asprey bath products. A window-front sofa is a perfect place to take in the skyline after dark.
Choose from refined Cantonese at one Michelin-star Jin Xuan restaurant on the 53rd floor, or wholesome Italian at Scena, where rustic beams and floor-to-ceiling windows set the scene. Aura Lounge is the place for afternoon tea and evening jazz. The real showstopper is 58th-floor Flair, the highest rooftop restaurant and bar in China. From its split-level alfresco terrace, the spheres of the Oriental Pearl Tower appear within reach. The Ritz-Carlton Spa is a marbled retreat 55-storeys above the city and features a 24-hour gym, relaxing massage treatments and a dry sauna.
Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai - 9/10
Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai is surrounded by gleaming skyscrapers in the heart of Pudong’s central financial district, with luxury shopping and dining just steps away. As sophisticated as they are spacious, the 318 rooms and 44 suites offer a blend of comfort with a distinctive oriental design. Stunning skyline and river views are guaranteed with vast gorgeous bedrooms and inviting bathrooms with sleek modern designs. The Presidential Suite spans most of the 25th floor, the hotel’s grandest suite has its private wine cellar, a full kitchen and dining room for entertaining, as well as a private roof garden and two spacious bedrooms.
Surrounded by nature, the Spa at Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai inspires wellness through holistic and rejuvenating treatments in the 13 spa suites. Unwind with a Chinese Meridian massage, take to the varied water facilities that include a crystal steam room, tepidarium chairs, aroma experience showers, sauna and ice fountain – not to mention the large pool. For an exciting fusion of contemporary and classic French cuisine, dine at Michelin-starred chef Richard Ekkebus’ Fifty 8° Grill. Or try the Michelin-starred Fu He Hui, helmed by renowned chef Tong Lu. It’s a tasting-menu only, vegetarian restaurant that even meat-eaters love. Afternoon tea and delicacies can be savoured at the Riviera Lounge Gourmet, or try something sweet at The Mandarin Cake Shop.
Peninsula Shanghai - 9/10
For nearly a century, Peninsula Hotels Group has won loyalty around the world for its elegant style and attentive service. In keeping with this is The Peninsula Shanghai, a stately building situated on the historic Bund with views over the Huangpu River and Pudong. The complex includes luxury residences, lovingly tended gardens, a high-end shopping arcade, and No.1 Waitanyuan, a landmark former British Consulate building. The hotel’s 235 guest rooms include 44 suites, as well as the palatial, ultra-luxurious Palace Suite and Peninsula Suite with their wraparound balconies and private gyms.
The hotel has five restaurants and lounges – two of which are Michelin starred, making it the only hotel in mainland China with two concurrent Michelin-starred restaurants. Yi Long Court serves Cantonese cuisine in the setting of a 1930s Shanghai nobleman’s house with six private dining rooms and a signature Peninsula Chinese Chef’s Table. Sir Elly’s Restaurant is where creative European dishes are served in a sophisticated, high-ceilinged dining room and an upstairs rooftop space. Salon de Ning has glamorous décor, evening dancing, and exotic cocktails that evoke the decadence of 1930s Shanghai. The Compass Bar serves fine spirits, wine, and creative bar snacks in a lounge adorned with memorabilia highlighting Shanghai’s maritime history. The Peninsula Spa offers deeply personalised spa experiences, an array of Asian and European inspired beauty and wellness therapies in the seven relaxing treatment rooms. There’s a 25-metre indoor swimming pool and gym with state-of-the-art training equipment too.
Fairmont Peace Hotel - 9/10
More than a luxury 5-star hotel, the Fairmont Peace Hotel is a legendary Shanghai monument and art deco masterpiece that was once the playground of the city's elite. With over nine decades of history, it was a favourite with foreign celebrities – including Charlie Chaplin and served as the glamorous playground where every night an extravagant gala event took place. Now brilliantly reinvented for the 21st century, the hotel has 270 guestrooms, including 39 suites that blend period-inspired finishers with modern amenities. The impressive Presidential Suite occupies the entire 10th floor and is where the flamboyant former owner Victor Sassoon once lived. The Willow Stream Spa brings to life the cultural diversity for which the city is renowned. Ancient traditional Chinese healing combines with up to the minute skincare and wellbeing to ensure the quintessential balance of yin and yang.
The Cathay Room remains a social dining institute with elegant European cuisine and views towards the Bund. Dragon Phoenix on the 8th floor has reclaimed its status as one of the premier Chinese restaurants in Shanghai and promises a nostalgic experience. Victor's is a charming old-school deli with a French Café menu and moreish pastries. The hotel has revived the Legendary Afternoon Tea Dance and you can take to the floors of the Jasmine Lounge as the live orchestra blasts from the balcony above. In the Peace Museum find hotel memorabilia – silverware, porcelain, crystal. Art Deco, antiques, photographs of the hotel’s celebrity visitors and books that tell the tale of the grand old hotel through the decades.
Amanyangyun, Shanghai - 9/10
Surrounded by ancient camphor trees in the Minhang district, Amanyangyun is a peaceful sanctuary on the outskirts of Shanghai. Amanyangyun’s story began 700 kilometres away in rural Fuzhou, a cultural heartland known for its historic villages. When plans for a dam were approved there in 2002, a Shanghai philanthropist and Fuzhou native decided to save 50 ancient Ming and Qing dynasty villas and thousands of trees to Shanghai. The monumental plan was realised with the restoration of the 2,000-year-old forest and reassembling of the centuries-old villas. Thirteen antique villas form the core of the property, with a further 24 Courtyard Suites added. Each of the Ming Courtyard Suites has two courtyards. Rooms are spacious, minimalist and light-filled, with pale wood lattice screens, generous bathrooms, huge rain showers and bathtubs. The Aman spa positions the hotel as a wellness destination with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, private bathhouses, a Hamman and Russian banya, a well-equipped gym, and a yoga and Pilates studio. Treatments include Oriental medicine consultations, acupuncture and nutritional guidance.
Amanyangyun’s Nanshufang is a traditional Chinese arts and culture centre in which lessons in calligraphy, incense making and tea ceremonies take place. Amanyangyun’s elegant Chinese restaurant pays homage to the original home of the camphor trees and antique villas. Lazhu serves a menu combining Jiangxi signature dishes with local Shanghainese and Cantonese favourites. A lakeside Italian restaurant with a warm atmosphere, Arva draws inspiration from Italy’s farm-to-table tradition. The Bar is an ideal place to sit back and enjoy a drink or afternoon tea between activities.
Regent Shanghai Pudong Hotel - 9/10
In the ever-expanding urban skyline of Shanghai’s Lujiazui financial district, sits the Regent Shanghai Pudong Hotel. You can easily walk to iconic places like the Shanghai World Financial Centre, the IFC Mall, and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower from the hotel. Art-deco-inspired designs create a sense of calm throughout. The rooms have panoramic city views through the floor-to-ceiling windows and are beautifully fitted with large comfy beds, refined furniture, a minibar, lounge and flat-screen TV with cable channels. The large bathrooms include all amenities.
Appease your appetite at any of the three restaurants, from traditional Italian cuisine at Camelia, to platters of sushi at Mi Teppanyaki or delicious Cantonese from Shang-Xi. With exceptional views is the FLARE Spa located on the 41st floor. Partnering with prestigious Spanish brand NATURA BISSÉ to offer signature NATURA BISSÉ beauty experiences as part of a carefully created menu of services. Treatment rooms include luxurious VIP spa suites with steam, sauna, rain shower and whirlpool for two. Post work out, melt away stresses in the sauna or steam room. An indoor infinity swimming completes the picture.
The Regent Shanghai Pudong Hotel was previously the Four Season Shanghai Pudong.
The Middle House - 9/10
The Middle House is located in Dazhongli Shanghai. The fourth property from the stylish House Collective group is split between two futuristic like towers that are said to resemble the local Shikumen style. Designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni who used a blend of Chinese materials including porcelain, ceramic and bamboo to create a sense of flair. Enter the lobby with its forest-green bamboo wall tiles to discover the glittering 3,760-piece Venetian chandelier, a collection of renowned Chinese art and Shanghai's wealthy young professionals draped on low-slung sofas.
The 111 spacious rooms are decorated in an elegant mix of charcoal, nutmeg and navy, with custom-made ceramic headboards, Chinese calligraphy, leather-bound speakers and silky pull-ropes for master switches. The large bathrooms are separated by glass walls. Rooms come with a complimentary bar stocked with soft drinks and beers, Lululemon yoga mats, mini hand weights. There’s a homely Italian restaurant Frasca and contemporary Chinese restaurant Sui Tang Li. Breakfast is served at the Café Gray Deluxe or on the terrace. The hotel's flawless design flows into the basement which has a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, gym, yoga studio, juice bar and HYPOXI room.
Bulgari Hotel, Shanghai - 9/10
Just minutes from the iconic Bund promenade, the Bulgari Hotel Shanghai dazzles in China’s most cosmopolitan city. Part of the visionary SUHE CREEK project, the property enjoys uninterrupted views towards Pudong’s dramatic skyline. Combining its signature service with an intimate ambience, the 82 rooms, 19 of which are suites, occupy the top eight floors of the 48-story tower that is also home to Bulgari Residences. The hotel’s 2,000 square-metre Bulgari Spa and fitness centre is a triumph of indulgence. Il Ristorante – Niko Romito celebrates the rich heritage of Italy from its rooftop position, while Bao Li Xuan restaurant serves exquisite Cantonese classics in the historical atmosphere of the Chamber of Commerce Shanghai which is adjacent to the hotel tower.
Located on the ground floor, Bulgari Hotel Shanghai’s Bulgari boutique sees guests shopping for jewellery, watches and accessories from the Italian jeweller’s current collection. Bulgari’s chocolate boutique Il Cioccolato specialises in handcrafted gems created with the same vision as all Bulgari pieces. Guests are encouraged to use the hotel’s MOMODESIGN carbon fibre bicycles to explore the city unless they prefer the comfort of the hotel’s Maserati limousine.
The PuLi Hotel and Spa, Shanghai is smack bang amid all the action between Nanjing West Road and YanAn Road in the city’s Jing’An district. China’s first urban resort impresses from the moment you enter the lobby – polished black stone floors, minimalist lines, silk wall coverings, ancient Chinese artefacts and loads of beautiful people. The 229 Zen-like rooms are sleek spaces with dark wood, crisp white linen and huge soapstone baths overlooking the city. The Puli’s spa is by the renowned Thai hotel and wellness group Anantara, and treatments are accompanied by time in the jet pools, sauna, steam room and gorgeous 25-metre indoor swimming pool that overlooks the city.
Stretching the length of the lobby, the showstopping 105-foot Long Bar is a favourite with Shanghai’s fashion set who come for photoshoots or just to hang out with friends – champagne flowing. On the second floor, one Michelin starred Phenix restaurant serves French classics under the supervision of Chef Michael Wilson. Across from the hotel is Jing’An Park, a green oasis in the middle of Shanghai where locals can be spotted ballroom dancing at dusk.
Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li - 9/10
An urban sanctuary in one of Xuhui District’s last remaining clusters of Shikumen townhouses, Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li is an all villa luxury hotel that’s committed to protecting the city’s cultural legacy. Throughout, designer Jaya Ibrahim has brought a fresh update on 1930s French-Chinoiserie with tall ceilings, traditional redwood-framed windows and inviting courtyards. Located in the tree-lined former French Concession, the Shikumen was originally built to house traders and ex-pats working in the city, later becoming a residential area for local Shanghainese who overflowed onto the lively winding streets. Now reworked into 55 private residences and 40 villas, they have stone entrances, secret gardens and flowering vines. Each villa has a lounge and entertainment room, the bedrooms are decorated in soothing shades of green and dark wood with spacious marble-clad bathrooms and a rooftop terrace.
The Auriga Spa at Jian Ye Li has seven treatment suites offering a tailored approach to health with a vitality pool, sauna, steam room, wellness studio and fitness centre. The Living Room is ideal for those seeking a quiet escape and has an extensive collection of Chinese and European books to get lost in. Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire is Capella’s restaurant by three Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire. His first restaurant in China, serves unfussy French food accompanied by an impressive wine list. The lounge-style le Bar is ideal for a showycocktail, and la Boulangerie bakery serves buttery French pastries, Prosecco and local dim sum.
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