Shanghai’s Peace Hotel, the epicentre of the city’s Thirties hedonism, retains the swinging elegance of that era, but a sensitive £50m facelift has created a luxury hotel for the modern era: a calm and comfortable refuge from the lively Bund below. It is unique in a country not graced with historic properties.
At the corner of Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s main shopping artery, and the riverside Bund, the hotel is in the heart of the action. When you step outside, it’s straight into the crowds, and the views from the upper rooms take in all of the stunning majesty of this 21st-century city. The Nanjing Roadd East metro stop is a six-minute walk away.
Style & character
The sensitive refurbishment makes the most of the Art Deco masterpiece originally called The Cathay, and built in 1929 by the Iraqi-Jewish refugee Victor Sassoon, who lived in the green copper pyramid roof. While the corridors still snake away at length, gone is the Communist era faded glory: in its place are generously sized rooms with gold and blue silk upholstery, marble bathrooms with Le Labo toiletries, and truly glorious public spaces. Sassoon’s nation-themed suites, often chosen by visiting dignitaries, are spacious and beautifully capture a 1930s imagining of, among others, Britain, America, Japan, and India.
Service & facilities
Service under the Canadian Fairmont group has improved enormously, taking the hotel from a historic curiosity to a world-class luxury hotel. The elegant indoor swimming pool is staffed round the clock – and is a welcome distraction from the crowds of Shanghai – and the spa offers good quality treatments.
- Fitness centre
- Room service
- Steam room/hammam
Well-proportioned rooms remain faithful to the original Art Deco style and colour scheme – tan walls with brown velvets and boldly patterned purple and gold carpets – but the amenities are modern. From the iPod docking stations and excellent Wi-Fi to the bath-side television screens in Deluxe rooms, this is a hotel designed for modern life.
Food & drink
From the beautifully restored Thirties Jazz Bar, where elderly musicians still play each night, to the grand afternoon tea in the Jasmine Lounge, treats abound. Breakfast, in particular, is a spectacular display of plenty, from a full repertoire of top-quality Western delights (European patisserie and pancake stands) to a range of regional Chinese dishes (freshly cooked wonton soup, fried noodles) and an abundance of fruit, all diners are well catered for and guests tend to linger in the gorgeous and cleverly sectioned dining space.
The Cathay Room, on the ninth floor, has the only balconies on the Bund, taking in sweeping views of The Pearl and the rest of modern Shanghai’s skyline, and features an international menu and vast wine list. More intimate is the cocktail lounge, open to Fairmont Gold members and those staying in suites, where potent mixed drinks and an international medley of freshly cooked canapes and snacks are the ideal way to start an evening.
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