The skyscrapers that face the Yangtze River or the former French Concession are located in what is arguably the best-known district of cosmopolitan Shanghai. Although lesser-known, the new upscale dining and entertainment sector of Xintiandi is ideally located near some of Shanghai’s most remarkable landmarks such as The Bund, People’s Square, Shanghai Art Museum and the Shanghai Museum. This location is one of the centers of Shanghai’s Fashion Week, and the area is home to some of the country’s emerging fashion designers with shops at the Xintiandi Style Mall.
The Langham Hotel, located in the trendy Xintiandi District.
The star property is the 357 room five-star Langham Hotel, home to T’ang Court Cantonese, the only restaurant with three Michelin stars in mainland China. Food and art are hallmarks of the luxury lifestyle so; it's not surprising that The Langham has an impressive selection of contemporary Chinese art from the owner’s private collection. Sculpture and paintings include works by Feng Xiaoming, Sui Jianguo, Qu Guangci, Hang Yan and Peng Wei.
The hotel’s color scheme of rose petal contrasts with the rich, deep brown paneling. To complement the sensual atmosphere, Langham exudes a delicate ginger flower scent that pervades all the public areas. The pink also plays out whimsically in the hotel's signature hansom cab affectionately known as "Pinky," that is always rented when the fashion crowd comes to town.
The Club rooms have exceptional views from the 23rd and 28th floor and access to private check in and concierge, butler, breakfast, afternoon tea and what could pass as a light dinner with a live cooking station in the club lounge. When I arrived in Shanghai--tired from the long flight and just wanted a light bite--the smoked salmon, French cheese, and salad with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon hit the spot.
The hotel's exterior is a manifestation of modern Chinese architecture.
The Langham is very familiar with elegant Shanghainese ladies that come for afternoon tea, couples who have a drink on the outdoor terrace or Martini Bar, and business people for their power breakfast. In the evening, the lobby lounge plays host to live entertainment, perfect for a cocktail followed by a sumptuous buffet in the adjacent Cachet restaurant.
A welcome respite from the excitement and energy of Shanghai is the Chuan Spa, which incorporates traditional Chinese medicine into its signature treatments, ambiance and décor. "Chuan” in Chinese means flowing water, and water is considered the foundation of all life.
Interior views of the hotel and spa.
The spa’s philosophy uses the balance of the five natural elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth and the body’s opposing yet mutually dependent halves – Ying and Yang. The décor soothes with its light wood floors and walls, double height ceilings and stones lining the zigzagging paths to treatment rooms. The spa also encompasses a sauna, steam room, and a heated indoor infinity pool. Ideal for lap swimming, it features fiber optic underwater lights and underwater music and is lined with comfortable pool loungers and heated Jacuzzi.
For a first time or repeat visitor to Shanghai, The Langham is an ideal address, which will prompt a quick return visit.
The Langham is a chic alternative for great Chinese hospitality.
Unique things to do in Shanghai
If you are a first-time or repeat visitor, there are some different, nifty things to do whether you have a few hours or a full day:
UnTour food tours. Dumpling and nighttime street food tour.
SAT China Day Tours. A day trip to the town of Suzhou with visits to its famous gardens, the I.M. Pei-designed art, and cultural museum, and the historical water village of Tongli.
Shopping Tours. An all-day affair with MJ, a New Zealander, who not only preselects the best places to shop but will help you negotiate and even ship extra purchases home. Visits include everything from the Fabric Market for custom outfits tailored in 24 hours, art quality ceramic store, bookstores and flower markets.
Tour of the famed former French Concession with Newman Tours. Learn about the fascinating history, life, and architecture of Shanghai in the 1920’s and 30’s that inspired the film, The Shanghai Express with Marlene Dietrich and Anna May Wong, the Chinese film star of the day. ■
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