Review: Capella Shanghai JianYeLi

At the tail end of a recent trip to Shanghai, my family met up with me and we opted to book with The Capella Shanghai Jian Ye Li. Located in the XuHui district in and around the French Concession of Shanghai, The Capella Shanghai has taken basically an entire old Shanghai Shikumen town village and converted it into a luxury hotel and residence community. The hotel even conducts tours of its property to walk you through the history, aspects of Old Shanghai life and Shikumen living and the restoration work done to create the hotel.

It is near a flawless experience here. From the location, to the gigantic rooms for a city hotel, to the spa, service and food. Some minor hiccups leading to our actual stay but all was made up for by the stellar service and amenities and rooms during our time. It made for a memorable family vacation.

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Lobby

Almost everything about our stay from start to finish was exceptional (only rough patch was communication prior to arrival and some minor misinformation about certain services). Otherwise this property is now one of my favorites in Shanghai. Great location near subway and many shops/cafes but also feels like a nice secluded haven from the hustle and bustle of the city. Perfect blend of modern and old Shanghai, and very refined luxurious old-Shanghai experience. Service was impeccably attentive, friendly, willing and professional. The hotel entrance is behind shops that line the street, taxis/didi may find it hard to find the main car entrance but it is fine, you can either tell them to go into the main entryway or drop off across the street. The restaurants and shops that line the shopping arcade on the street-side facade of the hotel are all excellent as well.

NOTE: This is a family friendly and child-friendly hotel. It is not however accessible friendly. All rooms are multi-floor shikumen townhomes, there are perhaps a few accessible rooms available, but you would need to confirm with the property. Further most of the rooms and residences are behind locked gates and are exposed to the elements as you meander alleyways to get to your villa, they did not change much of the original layout of the community. Finally, the purple tower you see in the picture above is the water/ sewer processing tower, this is part of the old Shanghai community layout, and unfortunately in both heat and rain the stench from the sewer is quite evident when walking to and from the lobby. This is something I believe the hotel is figuring out how to better address but it is also in many ways part of the experience of living in Old Shanghai honestly, we just accepted it as it did not adversely affect our stay.

Booking

I had booked through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts to earn my 5x points when booked and paid in full online. Further as a Fine Hotels and Resorts and American Express Platinum card holder, you get free upgrade if available, noon check-in, 4pm check out, breakfast, wifi, and a resort amenity worth about USD$100 (usually F&B credit, or spa credit). We booked a Deluxe 2-Bedroom Shikumen Villa, there are around 4 categories of rooms, all multi-story villas, 1 2 bedroom category and 1 3 bedroom category. In researching various rates and packages available for the Capella, I saw that they had a family package available online with children’s welcome and in-room amenities, breakfast, choice of city tour of roundtrip airport transfer and children’s turn-down service. As my baby niece was to travel with us, I phoned AmEx to check if we could combine FHR benefits with Capella’s own family package amenities. The AmEx agent confirmed with the hotel that this was possible and it would be noted. I emailed the hotel directly to arrange for our roundtrip airport transfer that waws included with the hotel’s benefits, they responded that the two packages (AmEx and Family) were not combinable. After some back and forth with AmEx, I heard back from the hotel who apologized and said it was a misunderstanding. Perhaps some more training on the reservation side could be used? The rest of communication with hotel and the Culturist (concierge) for transportation and restaurant arrangement was smooth, even after needing to add an extra night at the last minute due to early arrival (which can only be done through AmEx in this situation).

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Hotel pedestrian Entrance
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Le Compatir and shops/ restaurants along main road

The Stay

We were given some information at check-in that seemingly was not accurate? We were told that the Japanese restaurant down the street could deliver to the rooms, and I believe I read this on the welcome packet as well, but as it turns out this is not possible? Not sure, not a big deal as it is literally 10 steps from the entrance. But just some clearing up on actual services and amenities would be nice!

Other than this, almost everything else was exceptional and above and beyond.
We very rarely had to mention our room number or names. All reception/ front desk staff knew who we were greeted us by name and were all willing to go above and beyond! Even to come take photos for us in our beautiful room, or to walk us to restaurants just down the street but it was typhoon day so they escorted us with umbrellas! Truly above and beyond in my opinion. In the typhoon it was tough to get didi cars, but the front desk team assembled all phones and all apps until they were able to secure a ride for us, and were willing to pay on their app first and charging the amount to our room, we really appreciated the resourcefulness and flexibility. They did all this with smiles and ensured we were ok and even offered to walk us back should we need it. While waiting for cars or just lounging in the library/lobby, instantly someone would come by to offer beverages or snacks! They also have snacks available in the library at all hours and there is a daily 6-8PM happy hour.

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Hotel grounds
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Walkways

Our two-bedroom Shikumen Deluxe Villa was beautiful and well appointed. The staff went above and beyond to accommodate our specific needs for bedding arrangements with my 20 month old niece. They also came through with children’s amenities making it a fun and memorable stay for her. It may be a luxury resort, but it is certainly welcoming of kids and the hotel does really accommodate for the littles ones (bathrobes and mini slippers included!). The bedding was so comfortable, controls for AC/lighting also clear and even has good amenities for the business traveler. Housekeeping even velcro-wraps your many charging wires to prevent them from tangling and getting in the way. Well-stocked and mostly complimentary mini-bar as well (beer is included but not the liquor or wine). The villas/ suites felt very homey, it almost didnt feel like I was in a hotel to be very honest, a perfect location for a family weekend getaway. A true getaway within a crazy busy city. The interiors are a cross of East and West and a blend of modern and almost 1920s art deco style. Dark toned furniture complimented by light toned walls and fixtures. Also Aqua Di Parma amenities in the bathrooms cant hurt!

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Entry courtyard and seating, cushions lifted for typhoon
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Shikumen Deluxe villa first floor living and dining room

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TV/Living room on first mezzanine floor

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Mini bar
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Master shower
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Second shower on second mezzanine
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Rooftop deck, did not get to use as it was Typhoon during our stay
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Skylight
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Master bedroom with couch converted to my niece’s bed (they do have cribs and cotts, we asked for this set up) They also provided toys, baby slippers and bathrobe!
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Second bedroom

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Children’s bath amenities

The food, while nothing out of this world, was delicious. Breakfast was great, and nice just right portions too from a mainly a la carte menu, the Eggs Benedict was fantastic. Lots of options along the shops that line the main street outside the hotel. Dinner at La Compartir is also great, with wonderful service, and one must order that Smoked Iberico Pork Chop! I would skip the Sole Meuniere here. The bar also has a great selection of whisky. I greatly appreciated the sommelier’s flexibility as they did not have any half-bottles but he offered to pour us half a bottle of one of the reds they use for wine by the glass and would charge us as a half bottle, it was actually a very good bottle too!

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Bar
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Waffles
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Egg’s benedict with iberico ham
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Amuse bouche
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Delicious negroni
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Our french wine poured half bottle
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Steak tar tar

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Amazing smoked Iberico pork chop

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Roasted potato and mushroom
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potato puree
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Sole Meuniere

The spa is wonderful. The one part I do wish they had is a proper pool rather than the small but relaxing vitality pool. The small fitness center is well appointed. The spa features great and well-priced treatments. We opted for the Sleep Therapy which includes 60 min of Chinese massage or oil based massage if you’d like with 60 min of Floatation sensory deprivation therapy, it was exceptionally soothing and relaxing. The spa staff are also all great at explaining and walking you through things if its your first time with any of their services.

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Spa relaxation room
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Gym
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Vitality pool
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Sensory deprivation salt floatation therapy pod

The car they arranged for our day of shopping around town as well as airport transport was also great and it came equipped with an excellent car-seat as well for my niece. Spacious and cozy and the driver was courteous and easy to communicate with.

Another thing to remember and note is that to get anywhere outside your room you have to go outside, even in the typhoon weather! But 1) the staff are more than happy to bring things to you in your room 2) This is just part of Authentic old Shanghainese shikumen lifestyle that you must experience!

All in all just wonderful property in Shanghai with exceptional service.

Would recommend for all types of travelers and hope to one day return myself.

 

Bon Voyage!

TheGastronomicTraveler

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