Mandarin Oriental Shanghai

Published on Eat. Travel. Live. on 16th February 2015:

There’s an old Shanghainese saying, “I’d rather have a bed in Puxi than a house in Pudong”, referring to the gap in wealth between the western and eastern banks of the Huangpu river.

Standing under the towering skyscrapers of Pudong today, it’s hard to imagine why. Many of Shanghai’s super-structures, home to its numerous financial institutions, are based in Pudong. Shanghai’s tallest building, the 492m Shanghai World Financial Centre, and its most iconic viewpoint, the Oriental Pearl TV tower, both make up the city’s infamous skyline on, you guessed it, Pudong.

From the sanctuary of a Mandarin River View Room at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a bed in Pudong looks pretty good too. It’s king sized with goose down pillows and luxurious linens. Of course, there is a pillow menu.

You can upgrade to a “Club” room which means that, after checking in with your personal butler in the cosy Club Lounge, you get to enjoy sweeping views over Pudong and the Huangpu river.

The breathtakingly obvious panoramic of Shanghai instantly captures your attention as you enter the room and the Mandarin has made the most of this with floor to ceiling windows in the bedroom and the bathroom. In fact, the big-enough-for-a-party tub has front row seats to the view – the perfect place to settle in with those Shanghai Tang bath salts and a glass of wine.

On the other side of a sizeable flatscreen TV you’ll find double sinks perched in front of brightly illuminated mirrors. Across from that, a dressing table is in a well-placed spot; they thought about the ladies in this one.

Beyond, a small cloister hosts a wardrobe area offering ample storage space. Conveniently, next to the wardrobe sits the coffee machine and kettle to help you settle in with a cup of something warm and comforting as you unpack.

If you did go for that upgrade, you’ll definitely be tempted to head back to the Club Lounge by the offer of Afternoon Tea and daily cocktail hour. Though of course, you can opt to enjoy some pampering at the Spa which boasts a crystal steam room, tepidarium chairs, aroma experience showers, sauna and an ice fountain.

For the gourmet, the best thing about staying at Mandarin Oriental hotels is that they always have a great restaurant offering. At Pudong, head to Fifty 8° Grill, a casual restaurant under the helm of Michelin-starred chef Richard Ekkebus, or Tony Lu’s Yong Yi Ting. And after dinner, instead of trekking across the river to The Bund, grab a cocktail at Qi Bar where local DJs play late into the night.

And should you find that you’ve stayed up way past bed time, worry not; there’s always Club late check out.

The Portman Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Shanghai

Published on Bon Vivant on 17th January 2015:

Looking over the Jing’an district of Shanghai, you feel like you’re on top of the world. Especially if that bird’s eye view is garnered from one of the luxurious suites at The Portman Ritz-Carlton.

It’s one of the few hotels in Shanghai that you can mention by name to taxi drivers thanks to its long standing reputation as one of the best hotels in the city.

In fact, in 2014, the Portman Ritz-Carlton was voted one of the 25 best hotels in Asia by Condé Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards; an accolade that it has held numerous times before.

What makes this astounding reputation? The charming service comes up top. The astute lobby manager’s friendly approach is such that, each time you pass through the grand hall to one of the six elevators, it feels like a welcome home.

The service keeps the guests coming back but it’s The Portman Ritz-Carlton’s fantastic location that attracts many first time visitors. Just a stone’s throw from Jing’an Temple, it’s within walking distance or a short cab ride to many of Shanghai’s other key attractions.

Tables is the main restaurant where they’ve recently launched what’s dubbed the Most Handsome Brunch in the city. Germain Tailor has suited up the staff who provide the free flowing martinis, wines and champagne. It’s decadent stuff.

Then there’s Ubuka, its Japanese restaurant focusing on sushi and teppanyaki, as well as, of course, the signature Ritz Bar.

The rooms are incredibly spacious with king beds furnished with 300-thread count linens and down pillows. The grand marble bathroom features a roomy bath and separate shower, made all the more indulgent with Asprey Purple Water products.

And then there’s the wardrobe with room for even the most luggage-laden travellers.

There’s character too. Taking contemporary Chinese as the design cue, you’ll find plenty of art work around the rooms; think bone china vase or oriental paintings.

But that top of the world feeling, it’s the one that’ll stay with you. And at the Club level, from the 35th floor, you have an unrivalled view of the city that’s beautiful even in the haziest of Shanghai days.