Peninsula Shanghai a high-tech homage to city's past


Room Key: The Peninsula Shanghai

Address: No. 32 The Bund, 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road, Shanghai 200002, People's Republic of China
Reservations: (866) 382-8388
Email: [email protected]  
Rooms/Suites: 181/54
General Manager: Paul Tchen
Rates: From $523 to $15,692 per night
Facilities: Five restaurants/bars; meetings/banquet rooms; business center; Aviation Lounge; shopping arcades; pool, fitness center and spa.
Room Amenities: Flat-screen TVs; deluxe marble bathroom with TV; CD and DVD players with DVD library; iPod docking station; memory card reader; free Internet.

Certain iconic hotels have long been intimately tied to the history, fates and fortunes of the cities they serve. New York has the Waldorf-Astoria and the Plaza; London, the Savoy and Claridge's. In Shanghai, similar roles were once played by the Majestic, Astor House and Palace hotels, legendary properties formerly operated by the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd. chain, forced out after the advent of Communist rule in China in 1949.

The company returned to its roots in October 2009, when it brought the Peninsula Hotels brand it had nurtured in Hong Kong since 1928 to a once-again-welcoming Shanghai's chic and revitalized Bund waterfront.

Now anchoring the Bund at its northern end near Suzhou Creek, the 235-unit Peninsula Shanghai, housed in the historical thoroughfare's only brand-new structure, brings both 21st century, high-tech panache and the spirit of old Shanghai's enterprise and elegance -- not to mention Peninsula's world-class hostelry expertise, honed in nine cities worldwide -- back home to the city where Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels got its start nearly a century ago, in 1917.

General Manager Paul Tchen said the Peninsula Shanghai, in keeping with the chain's management and design philosophy, reflects "the best of local flavor."

"The Peninsula Shanghai is a wonderful example of how a building can be designed to respect the architectural and interior design history of the past while distinctly being one that belongs to the rich landscape of Shanghai today," he said, describing the hotel as "the most comprehensive complex in our [Peninsula] portfolio."

The site contains a hotel; a residential building; a shopping arcade that's home to, among other high-end shops, Chanel's flagship China boutique; and Waitanyuan at 33 Bund, a collection of historical heritage buildings and park space on the grounds of the former British Consulate.

Tchen said most guests hail from China, Hong Kong and the U.S., with some 80% being leisure travelers. Major U.S. tour operators regularly booking clients into the Peninsula Shanghai include Tauck World Discovery and Abercrombie & Kent.

Back to the future

Peninsula ShanghaiOn a recent stay, the Peninsula Shanghai revealed itself to be the ultimate blend of homage and innovation. The chic, art deco-inspired design aesthetic, reflected in guest unit decor and the detailing of public spaces such as the lobby, hallways, elevators and the five restaurant/bars, honors the city's "Golden Age" in the 1920s and 1930s.

Yet all the mod-con bells and whistles are there, too. My spacious executive suite was outfitted with flat-screen TVs, a digital-camera memory card reader, iPod docking station, DVD and CD players, free wired and wireless Internet connectivity, dual-line telephones offering free international calls, a multifunction fax machine and -- perhaps most importantly of all, to me -- a Nespresso coffee, espresso and tea maker.

A major business travel destination and home to its own growing dining elite, Shanghai now boasts scores of excellent restaurants, but guests needn't leave the Peninsula Shanghai to indulge. A "culinary journey" around the hotel's eateries took in Yi Long Court, where Michelin Star chef Tang Chi Keung specializes in Cantonese cuisine, and Sir Elly's, for modern European fare by Frenchman Arnaud Berthelier.

Rates range from $523 per night for a superior room to a whopping $15,692 for the Peninsula Suite. The executive suite I occupied, with amazing views of the Huangpu River and Pudong, goes for $1,076.

But a stay at the chic property can be had for a bit less through Dec. 31, thanks to the hotel's promotional Shanghai Celebration rate. Under the deal, guests get one night in a superior room for $300, with breakfast and airport transfer included. Transfers are by the hotel's fleet of Rolls-Royce and BMW limousines, which are also available for hourly hire.


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