Thursday, March 27, 2008

Luxury Reinvented--Shanghai Boutique Hotels


M Suites, Pier One, Shanghai.

Since market restrictions were lifted, Shanghai, once referred to as ‘The Paris of the Orient,’ has promptly become a hotspot for internationalism, business and design. And with its rapid social, cultural and economic change, a new breed of hip and cosmopolitan visitor has arrived to the city. It's not surprising then, that Shanghai now caters to the varied needs of high-end businesspeople and tourists alike with a new collection of boutique, luxury hotels – here ASW Magazine takes a look inside three of them.

The Mansion Hotel: for the blue blood

The facts
With its most-anticipated opening in May 2007, this renovated historical property in the middle of the Old French Concession has set a new benchmark in Shanghai’s boutique hotel industry. Hosting 32 opulent guest rooms, a cocktail lounge, a penthouse lounge and a private boardroom, the suites in this lodging oasis range from grand to majestic, all maintaining an original, vintage allure. While extremely conscious of the preservation of the authentic Concession Era French-Asian décor, the hotel offers all the amenities a modern lifestyle demands: with high definition flat-screen TVs, iPod stereos and Wi-fi facilities come antique armchairs and ottomans, velvet drapes and faint couches.

The scoop
The hotel was originally designed by French architect Lafayette in 1932, as the residence of Sun Ting Sun (a partner of the infamous Shanghai gangster Do Yue Sheng) until the liberation of the city in 1949. During this period, the villa also served as an after-dark venue for the most extravagant parties, attended by Shanghai’s influential and elite. The hotel preserves a vast collection of original artefacts, ranging from furniture and personal toiletries to photographs and deeds of former occupants and visitors.

The vibe
The quiet hallways, lobby and rooms of the Mansion Hotel allow for a perfect escape from urban life – ideal for those in search of lethargic luxury in a historical setting.

The details.
The Mansion Hotel
82 Xin Le Road, Shanghai

88 Xintiandi: for the businessperson

The facts
This 53-room hotel is located in the centre of the city in a converted international entertainment development – Xintiandi. The modern Asian design of the premises offers all the appropriate features required by today’s businessperson, without feeling overwhelmingly oversized and generic. Equipped with individual in-room offices, the hotel is a perfect combination of functionality and comfort, situated within one of the foreign-friendliest environments in Shanghai. A certified gym with lap pool is available to all guests as well as tenants of the neighbouring luxury-apartment high-rises.

The scoop
Xintiandi, a newly-renovated complex that’s home to the hotel and was once home of the First Chinese Congress Hall (think Mao’s office), is now one of the largest commercial developments in the city. Prominent businesses including high-end restaurants like the soon-to-open Pure (from the culinary forces of Megu in New York) and high-end boutiques like Hugo Boss, Dior and Shanghai Tang, have made Xintiandi one of the trendiest places in town.

The vibe
88 Xintiandi offers convenient and luxurious accommodation amidst an entertainment oasis that will alleviate the culture shock for a first visit to China. Quiet if needed and happening if desired, this hotel carries a friendly, yet fast-paced atmosphere; perfect for professionals seeking exceptional treatment, convenience and boutique luxury.

The details
88 Xintiandi
380 Huang Pi Nan Lu, Shanghai

M Suites at Pier One: for the trendsetter

The facts
M Suites is one part of the supper club-lounge-boutique hotel Pier One complex. The 24 rooms in this boutique lodge were decorated by eight international minimalist designers with the über-chic in mind. The suites feature expected amenities for a boutique hotel such as flat-screen TVs and iPod stereo, plus other fashionable inclusions like a private yacht at the guests’ disposal.

The scoop
Located in the warehouse-trendy Suzhou Creek area, Pier One, a former Chinese beer factory, now resembles the Art Deco buildings one could expect to find in Miami’s South Beach. The edifice is in short distance of numerous concept shops, trendy office lofts and Moganshan Lu, the art gallery district of the city. Apart from the petite hotel, the meticulously chic complex also serves as home to Mimosa Supperclub – a white-themed restaurant specializing in 3, 5 and 7 course meals served on indulgent bed/tables – and Monsoon – a modern Asian decorated bar and lounge complete with a roof terrace and a Jacuzzi overlooking the creek. A younger, hedonistic crowd is seen here on a regular basis, attending mostly private functions hosted by luxury brands.

The vibe
Expect an active, champagne-influenced environment on weekends with a more relaxed, yet just as chic, atmosphere throughout the week. M Suites is a haven for those who crave a young, hip and artsy environment with their glass of Cristal.

The details
M Suites at Pier One
88 Yi Chang Road, Shanghai, PRC

— Alonso Dominguez

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