Shangri-La translates into Lost Horizons, which is fitting considering it’s easy to get lost in Shanghai, where the horizons of possibility and opportunity are endless. The city is an incredible mix of cultures, food, energy and buzz as one can see at the Shangri-La Pudong, which combines two hotels in one with The Grand Tower and The River Wing.
The east side of Shanghai, Pudong has enjoyed a huge development since the 1970s, transforming into a myriad of skyscrapers. It boasts itself as the central business hub in Asia, home to the Shanghai headquarters of the biggest companies in the world.From the moment I arrived, I instantly noticed the attention to detail and welcoming attitude of the staff at the Shangri-La East Pudong. Swept up in one of the hotel’s signature fleet of luxurious cars, we sat back in the soft pillowy seats of their Mercedes, watching through the windows as the hustle and bustle of the busy city rush hour passed by. Having navigated the Metro train line in peak-hour the previous day, I was definitely more at ease to be housed in the swanky confines of my chauffeur driven car.
Upon arriving in the sweeping lobby with sky high ceilings, the staff welcomed us and showed us to our room in the Grand Tower. The Grand Tower is the newer wing of the Pudong Hotel, with what one may describe as more traditionally styled interiors with warm Asian shades of deep red crimsons, amber timber and the type of deluxe furnishings I would find in my grandmother’s living room.
Meanwhile the River Wing features lighter, whiter finishes with contemporary furnishings, corridors home to beautifully carpeted floors with floral designs and shining crystal chandeliers. The same high Shangri-La standards still exist but the feel is more plush, luxurious and Western than the Grand Tower.The River Wing is home to a grandeur lounge for indulging in classic English style afternoon teas and French champagne. The room is illuminated with natural light gleaming in from the huge floor to ceiling windows.
The hotel went the extra mile to make me feel extra welcome (big thanks to Stella!) even personalising my pillowcases with hand-embroidered initials. I was blown away and felt extra special, but even more so when a butler arrived with a tree of treats, literally. I’m not going to lie, my heart experienced mild palpitations of excitement, as she carefully delivered the elaborate tree with cherries dangling from its branches, delicately balancing macarons and filled with a base of chocolate truffles (as passe celebrity Nicole Ritchie once said “I DIE!!”). There was also some fresh fruit and tea, but all I could think about was the sugar overload I was about to enjoy.The amazing people at the hotel had organised a Shanghai Side Car tour of the city. In all honestly, I detest embarking on tourist activities, I’d rather drink cocktails all afternoon or max out mine or someone’s credit card. However, this is something I absolutely recommend you MUST do if you get the chance to in Shanghai. My best friend and I climbed into the sidecar with our driver and guide for the afternoon, the wonderful Frenchman Arthur. Shanghai Insiders run 1, 2 or 4 hour private tours of Shanghai on their fleet of sidecars, exploring the city with a personalised approach to your interests and existing experience of the city.A common occurrence for two gorgeous white girls like ourselves was for Asian tourists to ask for photos with us, especially in particularly touristy areas such as near the Bund. Today this reached new heights as we zoomed around, many people couldn’t believe their eyes — not only was there a sidecar but two white girls! I laid back and became a tourist attraction myself. At every traffic light, people rushed to take photos of us before Arthur revved the engine and we rocketed off again.We drove onto the ferry in our automotive, jumped out and went up to the deck as the boat crossed the river. Listening to a brief history of the city, its European background and Arthur’s experience of living in Shanghai, we took in the majestic view up and down the Huangpu River.The first stop was the incredible architectural feat of the Shanghai Slaughterhouse built in 1933. Beyond its concrete art-deco façade lies a maze of huge blocks connecting each section and level to the next with interlinking staircases and ramps. The architecture is jaw dropping using tonnes of concrete to construct this monumental structure. Today, boutiques, restaurants and a function area are housed inside, and really there is so much potential and opportunity for this precinct to evolve further.Our next stop was the Old Town, where we hopped off once again to explore the narrow laneways and divulge right into the authentic Shanghai. I loved discovering these hidden passageways lined with bicycles, where residents perched outside their front door, with overhanging power lines above and clothes strung out from building to building. The locals were selling produce on the streets, the perfect destination for one to find the most authentic street food eats such as freshly cooked ducks straight out of huge fire ovens.We returned to the hotel and retreated to the members only Horizon Club for some pre-dinner drinks and canapés. The club is available at additional cost granting benefits such as canapés and pre-dinner drinks, breakfast and afternoon tea for its guests. It enjoys a calm and relaxed ambiance above the city, also featuring a mini-business center and welcoming hostess willing to help you with any needs you may have.The hotel has an extensive range of facilities including a well equipped gym, sauna and indoor pool as well as numerous dining venues with many cuisines. The Exchange (named after the Stock Exchange) sits in the basement of the River Wing as an upper class American styled sports bar and restaurant. It has multiple rooms dedicated to dining, billiards, private dining or sports with large screen TVs for broadcasting live sporting matches, donning names such as The Vault, The Chambers, The Credit Room, The Treasury, The Wall Street Room. Yi Café is the setting for breakfast each morning, with the biggest buffet selection I’ve ever seen, I was spoilt for choice. In the evening, it also hosts a dinner buffet with cuisines such as Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Western. Food is fresh with many stations including freshly made pastas, noodles, BBQ’d meats, tandoor ovens, wood-fired ovens and a breathtaking dessert assortment. For our stay, I left breakfast each morning absolutely stuffed to the brim with all kinds of traditional dishes and decadent sweets! I mean holidays are for indulging right?!
Jade on 36
For dinner we zipped up to the thirty sixth floor of the hotel, arriving at the snazzy Jade on 36 Bar and Restaurant. Walking through the intimately lit bar with its cool orange theme, gigantic windows and glittering city skyline – the view was intoxicating.
I wish I’d spent more time in the bar to soak up the cool atmosphere and get tipsy on delicious cocktails but dinner was awaiting at the Jade on 36 dining room.
An elaborate sculpture marks the entrance which leads into a contemporary dining room with Michelin starred chef Jeremy Biasiol at the helm.
We begun with a selection of starters including their signature Foie Gras “On the Rock” (2 sets for ¥188 or AU$38) which was an inventive dish of lolly pops filled with green apple mousse alongside pan seared foie gras with sangria sauce and dusted with popping candy. The combination was fun and unexpected, with the sensation of popping candy igniting the rich flavours of foie gras.The Maine Lobster salad (¥188 or AU$38) was a beautifully presented dish with a generous portion of fresh lobster meat compacted in a cylinder, then crowned with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. The bright orange hues were exaggerated by the rim of the handcrafted plate. The delicious combination of slow cooked onions, mustard, parsley, chili mayonnaise and fresh lobster possessed a light but creamy texture proving to be mouthwatering.We also enjoyed the light and refreshing tuna nicoise. With pieces of fresh tuna gently seared on each side remaining a luscious pink inside. Alongside the tuna were cute little pieces of potato and baby duck eggs, with pieces of crunchy cos lettuce.For the next course, we shared the classic English dish of Beef Wellington. The tender slow cooked meat is encased within a buttery puff pastry shell on a bed of red wine beef jus. Beef wellington can be a pretty difficult dish to execute without shortcomings, however the chef seems to have done it perfectly.For dessert, we were treated to an extravagant looking dessert plate including their take on Lemon Meringue pie, Cheesecake and Normandy French toast (¥78 each or AU$16). Apart from the French toast, the taste of everything else didn’t live up to the high expectations set by its beautiful appearance. The French toast comprised of a thick slice of brioche that had been pan-fried to crispy perfection, then blow torched to create a caramelised exterior with a delectable crunch which revealed soft fluffy insides. Served with cubes of stewed apple and gooey Nutella, it was absolutely heavenly!
After dinner, despite it being a Saturday night, we opted for a quiet night in, having taken a little too much advantage of the Shanghai clubbing circuit in the previous days! Luckily the hotel was psychic and organised a blissful spa treatment at their signature spa venue. Chi describes itself as a place of peace and well-being, definitely not what our bodies had been experiencing since arriving to the Shanghai party scene.
We experienced Chi’s Healing Stone Massage (¥1680 or AU$335), which used hot stones to ease muscles, restore vitality and energy. Over the two-hour period we were treated to a decadent full body experience. We giggled as our feet were washed, then our bodies were immersed in a gigantic bath where rose petals were thrown on us. We experienced the sensation of hot stones gliding along our bodies reinvigorating us with new energy and vitality. Afterward we retreated to our hotel room, watching movies in our luxurious beds and finishing off the leftover tree of treats.
Gui Hua Lou
While at the Shangri-la Pudong, we were also lucky enough to dine at their signature chinese dining venue Gui Hua Lou. The restaurant was buzzing on a Friday lunchtime with businessmen, hotel guests and visitors all there with one thing in common — to experience some amazing Chinese food.Sitting down in a booth overlooking the red designed room, we sat back watching the buzzing atmosphere of the restaurant. Despite growing tired of Chinese food over the last two weeks, this subverted expectations and changed my perception.Enjoying dim sum delights such as steamed shao mai topped with truffle (¥50 or AU$10), parsnip cake, steamed baby greens with mushrooms (¥36 or AU$7), silky smooth velvety shredded bean curd soup with sliced abalone (¥68pp or AU$14), and char siu sou (BBQ pork puffs) which were all the highest calibre we had had of Chinese cuisine.The standout dish was the Yangzhou fried rice (¥108 or AU$22) which became a Chinese social media sensation on their platform WeChat. I’m not usually a fan of fried rice but this was the best fried rice I’ve ever eaten, and I managed to pretty much polish off this entire bowl of carbs — it was THAT good! The chef shows exactly how to make it here, but it’s probably better I leave it to the experts as otherwise I might end up the size of a house!
After lunch, I tried to walk off the bowl of fried rice I had just demolished with an afternoon stroll along the Pudong river bank, soaking up the sunshine and clear blue skies.
It’s no secret to the people that know me, that I love to indulge in a little luxury every now and then, and with hundreds of hotels around Asia and three in Shanghai alone, the Shangri-La clearly know how to do luxury.
33 Fucheng Rd, Pudong, Shanghai, China
Phone: +86 21 6882 8888
1, 2 or 4 hour private tours
Phone: +86 150 2111 2451
Gui Hua Lou
33 Fu Cheng Road, Pudong, Shanghai, China
Phone: +86 21 6882 8888
Jade on 36
Level 36, Grand Tower, Shangri-la, 33 Fu Cheng Road, Pudong, Shanghai, China
Phone: +86 21 6882 8888 ext 6888