Ive been trying to catch up on many posts that I’ve been meaning to post but just havent gotten to, and so you may notice my recent posts are very quick, and not as detailed as I tend to be. I do apologize for that.
In July this year, right before I returned to the U.S., I visited Shanghai, China. this would be my second official visit here, first time was in 2010 for the Shanghai World Expo, which was a pretty awesome event. And boy has Shanghai changed again since then.
We opted to stay at the Peninsula Hotel on the bund. I have a huge soft spot for the Peninsula Hotel brand as it was the first luxury hotel brand I stayed at and really exposed me to what true luxury and attentive service means, even for a young child (the Peninsula Hotels has some of the best children’s programs I’ve seen and experienced back then). Granted, prior to this I only ever stayed at the Peninsula Hong Kong, but nonetheless I have been in love with this brand ever since, I was also lucky enough to stay on their 75th anniversary as a child and received a 75th anniversary teddy-bear. The Peninsula Hotels also have really nicely designed and large rooms for a city-hotel. Another final reason, is that in almost every Peninsula Hotel, there is some kind of subtle aviation theme, whether it be a lounge, event space or restaurant, and its always a vintage aviation theme, so even better!
We also dined at some wonderful places, including my favorite Shanghainese restaurant Old Jesse, and the best new meal on the trip: Mr. and Mrs. Bund, we also did eat at a michelin starred vegetarian restaurant, which was overall kind of disappointing though it was good but just overpriced. Finally, two neat experiences we did: Shanghai Insiders sidecar tour and going up the new Shanghai Tower to visit the world’s tallest observation deck at floor 119. Shanghai Insiders is definitely worth it, riding in old-school 1920s sidecars zooming through Old and New Shanghai with expert expat guides to tell you all about the Shanghai that we dont normally see in the media or movies. Also its just so cool!
To the reviews:
The Peninsula Shanghai:
Overall this is a good hotel. Sticks to the Peninsula brand promise and mostly delivers. While not as great as the original in Hong Kong or the one in Tokyo, this is still quite a nice place to stay.
Great location, I’d say its at a more secluded corner of the bustling Bund. Offers amazing views of the Bund and Pudong skyline/ Huangpu river. Head up to Sir Elly’s rooftop bar for a drink or just to snap a few photos.
Rooms, as per Peninsula, are very large for a city hotel. Comfortable beds. Pillows a bit on the softer and flat side, but they give you two so that makes up for it. Bathroom very spacious, clean, and modern. Separate walk-in closet and vanity (most rooms). Very comprehensive business work space, with free wifi, assortment of stationary, complimentary Nespresso and fax.
Wonderful pool and fitness center (though we like the Peninsula Hong Kong and Tokyo pools much more). Semi-buffet breakfast, stay away from Chinese selection, and stick to the Western/ eggs.
Service definitely still a cut above most for a city hotel and in Shanghai.
Recommended for families or business in Shanghai (they have lots of children’s programs!)
Yi Long Court at the Peninsula Shanghai
On our last day, we were short on time and needed to choose a lunch spot fast as we were out far at an art gallery. We decided to make things simpler since we were checking out that afternoon to just book the Peninsula’s Chinese restaurant Yi Long Court. At first I was skeptical, as sometimes Chinese restaurants are hotels can be catered to tourists and foreigners, though often times in China/ Hong Kong/ and Taiwan that is not the case. Yi Long Court is primarily Cantonese, at lunch there is a selection of dim sum as well as a la carte options. The food here was very very good, and we were actually all quite decently surprised by it. Many of the dim sum dishes took more creative spins to traditionally techniques mix and matching flavors and textures of the traditional Chinese palette but in modern ways. We opted for some a la carte as well as the all you can eat dim sum, where you pay a per person set price and can choose as many items from a preset list to your heart’s desire. Interestingly enough only locals/ Chinese tourists were dining here on a Sunday lunch. But I believe that will all change now, last month Yi Long Court received 2 Michelin Stars in the 2017 Michelin Star Shanghai Guide, well deserved and well, that also means that its now going to be tougher to book. I dont think it’ll be as possible for our last minute booking for 4 people to happen anytime soon. But if in Shanghai, I would recommend you check it out!
(unfortunately I do not know where the photos I took of the food went. Sorry!)
Mr. and Mrs. Bund, by Paul Pairet
Shanghai is in a league of its own as a megapolis and 21st century city. Its not even China anymore if you ask me. With its hoards of new century Chinese wealth, foreigners and gentrification, comes a new wealth of cuisine too. The Bund is home to pretty much most of Shanghai’s glitzy restaurants and bars, with its colonial architecture and stunning views. There is no shortage of good food here. One of the most famous places nowadays is Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, voted one of the top restaurants in the world and also one of the most expensive with a per person price tag of around USD$1000 if including alcohol. Its meant to be a meal that engages all senses, but I cannot justify paying USD$1000 to eat in a secret room with 10 diners, surrounded by LED screens and music and just an overall gimmicky feel. So, instead I booked brunch at Paul’s original Shanghai venture: Mr. and Mrs. Bund to try his food and skill. It did not disappoint. The famous Cod in a Bag was delicious as were the ribs, Lemon Tart and foie gras. And definitely nowhere near a $1000 per person pricetag. I would highly recommend Mr. and Mrs. Bund over say M on the Bund nearby. Its got a nice French-nouveau ambiance paired with direct views of the Bund and Pudong skyline.
On another food/beverage related note. Shanghai is now home to some of the best and hottest bars, lounges, and clubs in Asia. Lots of famous speakeasies, and glitzy rooftop bars serving up meticulously crafted cocktails. One such place is The Nest, a new lounge on the bund just next to the Peninsula, though no direct views of the Bund, the place is lively and serves great drinks. Just be ready for some snooty greeters, but thats expected at almost all Bund bars and lounges.
That is my high level snapshot of my most recent trip to Shanghai, China.