As one would expect in a city of Shanghai’s stature, there are hundreds of hotel options spanning the ratings spectrum. There are basically two categories of high-end stay: stylish ultra-modern international hotels that offer countless amenities and highly polished service, and the grand, elegant old-world hotels that maintain a feeling of a living past in Shanghai’s historic districts.
Most top hotels are Sino-foreign ventures, Chinese-owned with foreign management. Five-star and four-star hotels tend to have similar facilities and services, apart from technical requirements such as a swimming pool. The midrange market includes reliable chain hotels such as the Crowne Plaza, Novotel, Ramada and Holiday Inn. However, there are some wonderful new boutique offerings popping up around the city.
When you check into a hotel you’ll have to fill in a registration form and have your passport scanned. A copy will be sent to the local Public Security Bureau. Grab a few hotel business cards from the front desk – these are vital to getting home in a taxi during your first days in the city.
For new visitors interested in immersing themselves in the Shanghai experience, Puxi is the ideal place to stay. There are dozens of excellent hotels within striking distance of Shanghai’s legendary landmarks of People’s Square, the Bund and the French Concession. The accommodation options are far more varied than in Pudong, as many stately villas and colonial buildings have been converted into classy hotels. Of course, the standards of luxury still apply and there are also plenty of modern options.
The options that follow are iconic Shanghai hotels that will not disappoint. If, however, you seek to delve a bit deeper into what’s on offer, www.tripadvisor.com is the place to go. It’s not perfect and you’ll have to filter the reviews somewhat, but that is the nature of all such sites.
Le Royal Meridien
In Renmin Park off Nanjing Lu, Le Royal Meridien is situated perfectly for sightseeing and getting around the city. The 66-floor building, which resembles a Transformer, is a city landmark. Behind the intimidating glamour, however, is a classy hotel with five-star services and great views–ask for a room on one of the higher floors so that you can take full advantage of the floor-to-ceiling window view.
Amenities: Internet, mini-bar, four restaurants, bars, room service, indoor pool, gym, spa, concierge, babysitting
789 Nanjing Dong Lu, by Xizang Zhong Lu
The Mansion Hotel combines period charm and modern luxury like no other hotel in Shanghai. This beautiful 1930s building was once the residence of Du Yuesheng, one of Shanghai’s most powerful gangsters, who used it as a venue for extravagant parties. There are antiques everywhere that are tastefully absorbed by the exquisite luxury that pervades every aspect of this hotel. Start your stay in Shanghai with style.
Amenities: Internet, two restaurants, bar, room service, spa, concierge, babysitting
170 Nanyang Lu, by Xikang Lu
The Westin Shanghai
Located minutes from the Bund, the award-winning Westin offers large guest rooms that feature Westin’s patented Heavenly Bed and a large, comfortable work desk. The Westin Kids Club consists of a separate area with adjoining terrace and a paddle pool. Adults, meanwhile, can indulge in the hotel’s famous Banyan Tree Spa. It also has an excellent Sunday brunch that’s very popular with expats.
Amenities: Internet, movie library, three restaurants, two bars, children’s programs, room service, indoor/outdoor pool, gym, spa, concierge, babysitting
Bund Center, 88 Henan Zhong Lu, by Guangdong Lu
Okura Garden Hotel
When it was built in 1990 on the site of the 1920s French Club and Cercle Sportif, the Japanese-managed Okura Garden was the top hotel in the French Concession. The Art Deco features of the original structure have been maintained throughout much of the building, particularly in the grand ballroom. Recently renovated rooms are average in size and lack the high-tech gadgets of newer hotels, but the classy ambiance and friendly staff more than make up for it.
Amenities: Internet, five restaurants, three bars, room service, health club and spa facilities, indoor pool, tennis courts, concierge service, babysitting
58 Maoming Nan Lu, by Changle Lu
Ruijin Guest House
Located in the heart of the French Concession, this 1930s colonial hotel sits on the beautifully manicured grounds of the former Morris Estate. Try for rooms in Building No 1, the luxuriously furnished mansion that has attracted guests such as Mao Zedong and President Nixon. Pressing for a discount is known to pay dividends.
Amenities: Internet, room service, concierge
118 Ruijin Er Lu, by Fuxing Lu
Quintet is an affordable and unique alternative to the chain hotels that predominate its price range. This charming bed-and-breakfast in a 1933 French Concession home has been in the family for generations, although it was recently renovated in 2008. The five rooms vary in size and style, but all are very comfortable and provide modern amenities. The staff are very helpful and professional.
Amenities: Internet, restaurant, concierge
808 Changle Lu
Sofitel Hyland Hotel
This is a very handsome four-star tower located in the heart of the pedestrian sector of Nanjing Lu. The recently refurbished rooms are worthy of the brand and fully equipped with modern amenities. Service is efficient here, but has been reported to be somewhat less welcoming than other options.
Amenities: Internet, two restaurants, bar, room service, health club, spa, concierge
505 Nanjing Dong Lu
Well located between Hongqiao domestic airport and the Shanghai Exhibition Center, the five-star Millennium Hotel is a great contemporary option if you need to stay in Hongqiao or are in town on business. The 369 exuberant rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows and a spacious layout. Definitely try and bargain.
Amenities: Internet, four restaurants, two bars, room service, gym, spa, indoor/outdoor pool, concierge, babysitting, parking
2588 Yan’an Xi Lu, by Shuicheng Lu
Occupying perhaps the most prized location in Shanghai, overlooking the Huangpu River next to the Pearl Tower in Lujiazui, the Shangri-La is arguably the standard for modern luxury in Shanghai. The two towers contain almost 1,000 guest rooms, although only Tower One offers the spectacular views of the Bund.
Amenities: In-room safe, Internet, eight restaurants, bars, room service, tennis court, pools, health club and spa, concierge service, laundry service, babysitting service, parking (fee)
33 Fucheng Lu, by Yincheng Dong Lu
Park Hyatt Shanghai
For a truly elevated hotel experience, stay at one of the Park Hyatt rooms that occupy the 79th to 93rd floors of the Shanghai World Financial Center, making it the world’s highest hotel. Simply the fact that you are in the third tallest building in the world could make this the coolest hotel in all of China. Think bathrooms that boast rainforest showers, TVs in the bathroom mirrors and toilet seats that automatically raise as you approach.
Amenities: Safe, Internet, restaurants, bars, room service, swimming pool, health club, spa, concierge, babysitting
Shanghai World Financial Center, 79-93/F, 100 Century Avenue
Although it’s been eclipsed in height by the neighboring Park Hyatt, the Grand Hyatt still offers 555 rooms with spectacular views from the 54th to the 88th floors of the Jinmao Tower. Although no longer the place to stay in Shanghai, the service is still impeccable and the dreamy bar Cloud 9 still draws troves of visitors.
Amenities: Internet, six restaurants, bars, room service, swimming pool, health club, spa, concierge, babysitting, parking (fee)
Jinmao Tower, 53-87/F, 88 Century Avenue, by Dongtai Lu
Amazing views of the Bund and art-deco inspired rooms highlight this iteration of the Ritz opened in 2009.
Amenities: High-speed wired and wireless Internet access, Bose Wave Music System with an iPod dock, four restaurants and bars, spa, swimming pool, 24-hour Club Lounge, fitness studio
8 Century Avenue, near Lujiazui Huan Lu
Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Pudong
A very modern hotel catering primarily to business travellers,
the popular and favourably-reviewed Courtyard by Marriott is well maintained, has great service and is conveniently located by the Metro.
Amenities: Internet, two restaurants, bar, concierge, room service, health club, babysitting
838 Dongfang Lu, by Weifang Lu
Lacking frills, but very functional and a great bargain (after online discounts) for the splendid views of the Bund and the amenities, Novotel hosts a steady flow of business travellers looking for value and comfort. The top floor boasts a revolving restaurant making it a fun place to host visitors.
Amenities: Internet, restaurant, bar, swimming pool, health club, concierge
728 Pudong Da Dao, by Dongfang Lu
Four Points by Sheraton
This internationally managed Starwood property is located next to Nanpu Bridge and the Fuxing Lu tunnel, which puts guests within a few minutes of the Bund or downtown Puxi. The service is quite good and the rooms are conventionally pleasant.
Amenities: Internet, three restaurants, bars, room service, gym, spa, concierge service, babysitting service
2111 Pudong Nan Lu, by Pujian Lu
Holiday Inn Pudong
This is a quintessential Holiday Inn, but excellent value (after online discounts) for the comfort, spotless rooms and amenities that it offers. Mostly caters to business travellers visiting Pudong, but its proximity to Metro Line 4 attracts a few tourists as well.
Amenities: Internet, three restaurants, bars, room service, swimming pool, concierge, health club, babysitting
899 Dongfang Lu, by Century Avenue