Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 30 October 2020

Executive travel: Shanghai's Ritz-Carlton offers stunning views over China's commercial capital

Hotel occupies 18 high-rise floors with full-height windows in the city's IFC South Tower

The Flair rooftop lounge offers 270-degree views of Shanghai's skyline and is a popular spot for tourists. Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Shanghai
The Flair rooftop lounge offers 270-degree views of Shanghai's skyline and is a popular spot for tourists. Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Shanghai

Whether it’s the diamond-like facade, elaborate function spaces, or the show-stopping three-tier alfresco rooftop lounge with some of the best views of the historic Bund district and Huangpu river, The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai oozes comfort and class.

Just under an hour’s drive from the international airport, this 55-storey property has been a mainstay in Shanghai’s financial district for the past decade. From its position above the IFC Mall – which houses an abundance of high-end luxury brands, restaurants and a supermarket – guests are within walking distance of the waterfront, Oriental Pearl Tower and the Lujiazui metro station.

I arrive at the hotel in the very early hours of the morning after a flight from Kathmandu. The valet entrance is relatively quiet but efficient, my bags are taken, and is it off to the reception counter on level 52.

Check-in takes a few minutes and then it’s down a couple of floors to my room, a Club Deluxe, on floor 50, There are 285 rooms across the 18 floors that the hotel occupies in the IFC South Tower, ranging in size from 50 square metres to 410 sq m. I’m one level above the hotel’s Club Lounge, the corporate space where executive guests staying on floors 49-51 can access complimentary snacks and drinks all day. The views from the 24-hour lounge are first-class, and besides the refreshments, patrons are able to make use of private workstations, conduct quiet meetings with clients in a relaxed, refined setting, or browse the magazine and newspaper selection over a quiet cuppa.

Through the floor-to-ceiling windows in my room I can see the bustling streets below by day and admire the twinkling skyscrapers in the evening.

The functionality and design of the 50 sq m space is well thought-out. A mostly neutral colour palette that blends beiges and creams with mint greens and browns is complemented by subtle lighting and leather furnishings.

The ultra-luxe marble statement tub is hard to miss thanks to its curvaceous design and fine silk privacy curtains. The bathroom also boasts dual sinks, a separate rain shower and toilet. The Asprey bathroom amenities are a nice touch, as are the fluffy bathrobes and towels.

There’s a coffee machine, a good-sized working desk, a two-seat lounge, and a flat-screen television. USB ports are easy to come by within the electronic panel that’s built into the bedside table, but when it comes to controlling lights and curtains it’s a little confusing. The intermittent flashing smoke detector light is an annoyance, too, as I’m a light sleeper.

Attention to detail across the property is mostly on-point. The service team is consistently engaging and obliging, although housekeeping does have a habit of moving my personal belongings around.

The design aesthetic is art deco-inspired, with live Jazz music and opulent furnishings setting the tone. The collection of oriental-inspired artworks adorning the walls add to the culture of the hotel.

From an F&B point of view, The Ritz Shanghai, Pudong continues to attract loyal locals and plenty of in-house guests. Cantonese fine-dining restaurant Jin Xuan serves up Michelin-star fare. It is joined by authentic Italian eatery Scena, which is renowned for its generous portion sizes and serves the all-of-hotel breakfast buffet (265 Chinese yuan, or Dh137); Aura Lounge hosts a lovely high tea and hosts live Jazz sessions in the evenings, while Flair Rooftop Lounge is considered one of Asia’s best and is so popular that eager patrons queue to get in.

Afternoon tea at Aura. Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Shanghai
Afternoon tea at Aura. Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Shanghai

Aside from its tapas-style menu that blends Japanese cuisine with Vietnamese, Indonesian, Indian, Thai and Chinese, Flair is considered ‘the’ spot with the most vibrant 270-degree views of what is China’s biggest city.

I take breakfast in the Club Lounge, which is more intimate than that served in Scena. Guests can choose from hot dishes like salmon, congee, noodles, and dumplings, and cold items like fresh fruit, bakery items, and cheeses and cold cuts.

Business guests will no doubt appreciate the meeting and function facilities here, which, combined offer 2,500 sq m of space. There’s a separate entrance through the main ground-floor entrance to the grand ballroom and the diverse meeting and function spaces. Catering is part of the deal and each of the options provide plenty of natural light.

Club access costs an additional Dh730 per night per person if added to the standard room charge, but is currently closed due to restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Shanghai
Club access costs an additional Dh730 per night per person if added to the standard room charge, but is currently closed due to restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Shanghai

When the work is done, there’s a 24-hour gym, dry sauna, steam room, indoor heated pool, and of course, The Ritz-Carlton Spa with its 10 treatment rooms, elaborate menu and extensive use of luxury beauty products like Espa and Valmont.

Standard rooms at The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong start from Dh1,579 and include taxes and WiFi. Club access costs an additional Dh730 per night per person if added to the standard room charge. Club Deluxe rooms are Dh2,203 per night.

The writer was a guest of the hotel.

Updated: June 18, 2020 10:13 AM

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