Photo Courtesy of Shanghai World Financial CenterOver the past decade, Shanghai has regained its stature as one of the world’s most cosmopolitan, fast-paced and connected cities. With world-class hotels catering to travelers of all stripes, unparalleled luxury shopping, and a nightlife scene that positively pulsates with energy, it’s quickly become one of the top destinations on every jetsetter’s list.
Many of Shanghai’s most sought-after hotels tend to cluster in the anonymous skyscrapers of Pudong and the congested warrens of streets near the Bund and Xintiandi. While it might seem counterintuitive, though, a great option for easy access to the city’s sights and points of interest is actually a bit outside the crush.
The Kerry Hotel Pudong Shanghai is adjacent the convention center in the southeastern end of Pudong, near several of Shanghai’s most exclusive housing enclaves. The location means quick highway access to the financial center of Pudong as well as to the Bund and Shanghai’s other notable neighborhoods like the French Concession.
The Kerry Hotel Shanghai is one of only two Kerry hotels in the world. The other is in Beijing. Both are under the auspices of well-known luxury chain Shangri-La Hotels, which launched the Kerry brand in February 2011 with the Kerry Hotel Pudong. However, while the Kerry Hotels maintain Shangri-La’s well-worn dedication to excellent service, they eschew the sometimes regimented refinement of Shangri-La for a more casual vibe that welcomes both business and leisure travelers who want the perks of a luxury hotel without all the hallmarks of formality.
The Kerry Shanghai is a half-hour drive from the international Pudong Airport, and anchors the upscale Kerry Centre shopping and business complex. Travelers in town for trade conventions will find the location a short walk from the sprawling Convention Centre to be extremely convenient, while other guests can amble across the road to enjoy the meandering paths and lakes of Century Park.
The hotel has 574 guest rooms and suites, all of which start at over 450 square feet, and are accentuated by panoramic windows overlooking the surrounding neighborhood and high rises. Rooms are decorated in a neutral palette of taupe, chocolate and white fabrics, with accents of deep red thrown in to catch the eye. Guests are treated to free high-speed Internet (a brand standard) access as well as a complimentary arrival minibar.
Rooms also contain large executive work desks, small sitting areas, spacious bathrooms with dual vanities stocked with L'Occitane products and glassed-in WC’s and shower suites, as well as separate baths with window views. The walk-in closets have enough space for a whole family to hang up their clothes, as well as laptop safes for peace of mind. Guests staying in Club rooms can check in at the dedicated reception desk in the third-floor club, where they are also invited to enjoy all meals, snacks throughout the day, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, beer and wine in the evening. They can also take advantage of various office services.
The hotel has three dining options. The MEET is a classic steakhouse with tableside food service, while The BREW serves casual gastropub fare and beers, ales and ciders brewed by the hotel’s in-house brewmaster. The COOK is actually several restaurants in one, with food stations serving everything from traditional dumplings and Chinese hot pot to Italian pasta, sushi, patisseries, gelato and even salumi and cheese rooms along with a glassed-in wine cellar and enomatic machines.
The hotel’s spa features a menu of treatments inspired by the ancient Chinese martial arts form of Wudang Wushu, which focuses on stretching, breathing and meditation. The enormous Kerry Sports fitness center is the largest hotel gym in China with several class studios, a huge fitness floor with cardio and weight equipment, and an indoor pool.
Attached to the gym is the hotel’s full-service children’s activity center with several different play areas, a full schedule of activities, a snack bar and a young, multi-lingual staff. Outside in the roof garden there are tennis courts, a basketball half-court and a café.
You don’t come to Shanghai just to hang out in the hotel, though. As good as the dim sum is at The COOK, almost every visitor to Shanghai makes a stop for the famous dumplings at Din Tai Fung (Try the pork-shrimp combo) just across the street from the Yu Garden. Although the Yu Gardens have now become a huge souvenir mall where you can pick up trinkets for friends back home, be sure to visit the small park itself that preserves the remains of a 16th-century aristocratic family’s estate and whose beautiful buildings, leafy paths and serene ponds draw visitors from all over China and the world.
Most visitors come to see landmarks like the home of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, who is credited as the founder of modern China at the beginning of the 20th century; the Shanghai Museum, whose exhibits stretch all the way back to the Bronze Age; and the replica of daily life in the 1930’s in the Shikumen House Museum of Xintiandi.
For a more fast-paced taste of Shanghai’s checkered past, charter a tour with Shanghai Sideways, whose owner, Frenchman Thomas Chabrieres, will whisk you through the bustling city streets in the sidecar of a classic Chinese 1950’s motorcycle as he takes you down shady lanes of the French Concession to reveal some of its Art Deco secrets and points out buildings featuring Shanghai’s quirky 19th-century Shikumen-style architecture blending European and Asian traditions. They can also take visitors on a brief tour of the Bund, Shanghai’s most famous street, lined with many turn-of-the-century treasures along the Huangpu River.
Contemporary art aficionados should visit M50 on Moganshan Road, a former industrial mill on an old canal that has been converted into a bustling warren of artists’ studios and galleries that recalls Beijing’s vibrant 798 arts complex. There are over 120 galleries total representing some of Shanghai’s best-known contemporary artists here and it’s a great place to take the pulse of the city’s nascent arts community. Then get a sense of the city as a whole by heading to the observation deck on the 100th floor of the bottle-opener-shaped Shanghai World Financial Center in Pudong. (Photo courtesy of Shanghai World Financial Center)
Of course, you can’t come to Shanghai without doing a little shopping—especially since all the major fashion brands are represented here and have gone to great lengths to put their best foot forward in the Chinese market.
The flagship stores along Huai Hai Road represent the cream of the crop, and you can also find super-exclusive members-only clubs like the Kee Club here, which serves some of the best cocktails in town. Many of the building complexes in Pudong, such as the IFC Mall also contain gleaming stores from top designers like Marc Jacobs and Yves Saint Laurent. (Photo courtesy of Kee Club)
Touristy Nanjing Road is a pedestrianized mall of enormous department stores where Shanghainese and foreigners alike can be found window-shopping at all hours of the day or night. For a more low-key stroll, try the restored buildings of Xintiandi, which has been converted into an upscale shopping district with brand names like Shanghai Tang. (Photo courtesy of Xintiandi)
The streets of the French Concession harbor unique boutiques where young Chinese designers peddle their wares and there are bargains to be had, while the maze of alleys of Tianzifang around Taikang Lu hold tons of tiny shops selling everything from seedy souvenirs to one-of-a-kind dresses and art pieces. Then when you need a break, you can duck into Kommune Café, an outpost owned by a couple of Aussie expats that serves excellent espresso drinks and Western-style brunches among other meals that will fuel you up for some more exploring. (Photo courtesy of Kommune Café)
The Bund is the beehive of culinary activity in Shanghai, and it's here that you’ll find mainstays like M on the Bund, where the order of the day is a multi-course Chinese feast in a contemporary dining room. Mr. & Mrs. Bund is another popular choice for the expat scenesters looking for a fine French-inspired meal courtesy of Chef Paul Pairet. For a taste of Chinese regional cuisine from Yunnan, try the tables at Lost Heaven, where Shanghai’s young and fashionable set comes to dine and every dish on the menu has a story. (Photo courtesy of M on the Bund)
After dinner, stop by the famous Long Bar of the Waldorf Astoria on the Bund, which makes its home in the Shanghai Club Building, a gentlemen’s club where Shanghai’s well-to-do foreigners came to socialize in the early 20th century. The menu of classic cocktails is the length of a Bible, but in a pitch, a glass of Champagne does the trick. (Photo courtesy of Waldorf Astoria)
For something a little more interesting, head to the The Alchemist in Xintiandi, Shanghai’s first molecular mixology bar, where the vibe is low-key, but the drinks are anything but. A list of current concoctions might include the Emerald Tablet with Tanqueray Gin, Ricard, coriander, citrus, aloe vera milk and cucumber soda. (Photo courtesy of The Alchemist)
Whether you’re looking for a whirlwind weekend of shopping sprees and painting the town red, a foodie fling filled with dumplings and fine-dining, or an architectural odyssey that charts the city’s fascinating history through its buildings, Shanghai has plenty for you to see and do no matter what your interest. (Photo courtesy of M on the Bund)