WHERE TO STAY: Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai
Why discerning travellers from around the world are dubbing Mandarin Oriental Pudong as Shanghai’s best luxury hotel.
In the year that I was born, Shanghai’s Pudong precinct on the east bank of the Huangpu River was flat. Today, close to three decades later, the city’s business hub and I have grown up. We’ve both developed a cheeky attitude and some real curvy altitudes.
But while my growth spurt has ceased indefinitely, Pudong is still on the rise. The zany towers that currently render its ever-changing skyline include the Shanghai World Financial Center, which looks like a giant bottle opener; China’s highest skyscraper, a twisty thing called Shanghai Tower; and of course, the unmistakable Oriental Pearl Tower — a circa-1994 postmodern monument that takes the cake as the oddest ball of the lofty bunch, with its pink glittering spheres housing observatories, museums and even a rollercoaster.
Riverside Mandarin Oriental Pudong, though similar in name to Shanghai’s oddball Pearl Tower, is far from the showy, neon-lit skyscrapers it has for neighbours. The inconspicuous two-tower glass building was designed by world-class architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia of Arquitectonica. It houses 210 fully furnished serviced apartments and a delightful cake shop in one edifice and the other stocks a 362-room luxury hotel.
Though all of the hotel’s rooms are typical of any five-star establishment — with deep-soaking tubs and goose down pillows — the Club Floor rooms and sprawling suites guarantee better elevated views as well as access to Mandarin Oriental’s signature hit, the Club Lounge. The full-floor space grants a cosier and quieter breakfast experience. There’s even priority concierge service, where staff would go the extra mile and offer assistance beyond professional requirement — may it be giving directions to the nearest sightseeing places or booking the complimentary use of the hotel’s house car for within the Lujiazui area. Light lunches and evening cocktails at the lounge are also not to be missed, as it is hands down the most relaxing spot to be in, especially during rush hour at the bustling megalopolis.
Nevertheless, fine dining is a hallmark of Mandarin Oriental hotels. The current total number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the group’s portfolio is 12, with a total of 18 Michelin stars, more than any other hotel group in the world. If you want hearty food choices in Pudong, we recommend a sit-down meal at the hotel’s one-Michelin-starred Yong Yi Ting. The Chinese restaurant is a unique treat in Shanghai as it serves seasonal flavours and fragrances of authentic Jiang Nan cuisine, which heralds from the southern Yangtze River region. If you decide to book an afternoon table, make sure to order from the dim sum lunch menu for hand-crafted steamed pork dumplings with chili crab meat, while taking in the contemporary Chinese interior, such as dragon motifs and curtain-clad booths.
The traditional Chinese style mixed with modern touches is even more prevalent in Mandarin Oriental Pudong’s crown accommodation, the Presidential Suite. As one of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world, and the largest hotel suite in Shanghai, the 788-square-metre space has played host to big names like NBA player Yao Ming. The deluxe setup includes custom porcelain vases, carefully weaved horsehair doors, a Steinway grand piano, and a marble-encased whirlpool overlooking Oriental Pearl Tower. A master suite and two extra bedrooms, a meeting room, dining room, kitchen, bar, wine cellar, plus rooftop gardens complete the suite.
Although the hotel is separated by river from Shanghai’s roaring nightlife, it is not far from other stunning venues, including the new Lujiazui Exhibition Center. This former shipyard has been transformed into an exceptional cultural and events space for the city’s financial district, which continues to evolve. Mandarin Oriental Pudong’s position may work to its advantage after all, with the area’s profound reorientation to be a riverside leisure industrial belt.
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