Art deco redux at Shanghai's Ritz-Carlton

The view from Flair, the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai's 58th-floor restaurant and bar.

Even a worldly traveler will have a catch-your-breath moment upon arriving in Shanghai. The sprawling city has been a pinnacle for urban development, and with a population soaring to more than 24 million, there is a sense that the growth isn't slowing down anytime soon.

For a room with a view and all of the luxurious perks to match, the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong delivers exemplary service set against the backdrop of art deco-inspired design that pays homage to the city's rich architectural history.

Occupying the top 18 floors of the Shanghai IFC South Tower in Shanghai's Pudong district, the property opened in 2010 to coincide with the first World's Fair in China.

While there is plenty to see and do across the Huangpu River, a recent hosted visit to the property revealed unique design details and guest experiences.

Three design firms were commissioned to bring the hotel's interiors to life. Singapore's Richard Farnell designed the rooms and public spaces, which utilize visual elements of the art deco period from 1926 to 1948, including detailed ornamentation from early periods as well as asymmetrical wall patterning more typical of later years. Japan's Super Potato was responsible for Flair, the 58th-floor restaurant and bar featuring oya stones from Japan, mud walls and richly saturated furnishings, as well as Scena, the hotel's Italian restaurant.

But it is the Steve Leung-designed Jin Xuan, the hotel's signature Chinese restaurant overseen by Chinese Executive Chef Daniel Wong, that delivers lotus flower-inspired wow factor to complement the Bund views, along with a menu boasting signature dishes such as Canton-style cereal-crusted lobster and sweet and sour pork with pomelo citrus.

Ritz-Carlton Shanghai guestroom
A king guestroom at the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai.

Ways to unwind

Those looking to further indulge in the Ritz-Carlton's on-site amenities can rise above Shanghai's bustling streets with a visit to the hotel's spa located on the 55th floor. The 1,600-square-foot spa features 10 treatment rooms, steam room, dry sauna, indoor heated pool, 24-hour fitness studio and a vast menu of treatment options, including the Jade Qi Yun. Referencing a balance of mind and body, the 90-minute session includes a deep-cleansing back exfoliation and massage followed by a facial using Espa products and Jade facial rollers, which provide stimulation to increase circulation.

The classic Ritz-Carlton afternoon tea is reinvented in Shanghai and offered at the Aura Lounge & Jazz Bar every day from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. as well as Scena for limited weekend hours. Expect traditional tea sandwiches, sweet pastries, jams and clotted cream along with local offerings including a selection of regionally sourced green teas. Special tea events are held throughout the year, including the recent partnership with Godiva, which drew upon the expertise of the Ritz-Carlton's culinary team as well as Philippe Daue, Godiva's chef chocolatier for the Pacific Rim and China. The hotel also plans to offer an Art Deco Tea, which will feature edible versions of the Oriental Pearl Tower and other landmarks.

Hit the streets

Originally from Texas, writer, historian and architect Spencer Dodington has lived in Shanghai for more than 20 years and is considered one of the city's foremost experts on its art deco history. He's partnered with the Ritz-Carlton to offer bespoke architectural tours catered to the participants' interest and background knowledge. Expect to see the work of notable architects, including Poy Gum Lee and newly reconceived neighborhoods like Xintiandi, which has preserved Shikumen buildings of the 19th century amid a flourish of high-end retailers.

For city views in high gear, consider a sidecar tour, where participants can hit the streets in a motorbike with an expert driver at the helm to weave among the various Concessions and neighborhoods. As recently experienced through a complimentary tour via Audley Travel, drivers will go just about anywhere within the booking time, from major sightseeing vantage points to the back alleys of Old Town. Arrive with a shortlist to maximize travel time.

Audley, which has been facilitating travel to Asia since 1996, can also arrange an immersive culinary experience in the home of a local. A recent sampling included a visit to a welcoming home in the Caoyang Xin Cun district, about five miles west of the city center. A visit to the local railway market, overflowing with fresh produce, butchers and household goods, made way for a homestyle meal that even the Ritz-Carlton can't duplicate — more than a dozen dishes prepared in the simple, flavorful style of the region.

Room rates begin at $407 per night. For more information, visit

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