The Peninsula Shanghai
A new building on the Bund? Yes, the Peninsula Shanghai is at the northern tip of this Unesco-designated Modern Heritage site. At 13 storeys high, the hotel's clean minimal exterior lines and colour blend well with the stone facades of its neighbours.
So it has a pretty good view, then? Oh yes. To the west, it overlooks the gardens and colonial buildings of the early 20th-century British Consulate and a small chapel. To the east is the sweep of historic Western-style office buildings on the Huangpu River's west bank, many built in the 1920s and 30s. Most accommodation faces the flash cityscape of Pudong, across the water.
So is the decor period-themed or contemporary? A combination of the two - with Peninsula signatures, such as white-gloved and hatted doormen. The decor pays homage to the art-deco era, but there are modern takes. The lobby is lighter in hue than that of the Hong Kong flagship, but it also features large columns and an upper gallery from which a string quartet alternates with a pianist during high tea; with a jazz ensemble performing at night.
What are the rooms like? Its 235 rooms are some of the largest in Shanghai, starting at 600 square feet. All are styled with art-deco elements but harbour 21st-century conveniences. Three uber-suites measure from 2,700 to 4,300 square feet. The Palace suite's special feature is a wraparound terrace of some 12,000 square feet. As well as a 40-plus-inch wall-mounted LCD television, hooked up to a theatre audio system, and with additional screens in suite bedrooms, each bathroom has a TV mounted at the end of an oversized tub. The dressing room area, off a walk-in wardrobe, even has a wall-mounted nail-varnish dryer. (What will they think of next?)
How about dining? The Lobby, where breakfast and afternoon tea are served, serves dishes that are light on butter and other high-fat ingredients. Yi Long Court serves excellent Cantonese dishes. Western fine-dining can be found at rooftop level, Sir Elly's, which has an adjoining bar, with picture windows and a terrace that enjoys great city views. Two bars are Shanghai themed: Salon de Ning is in the style of an affluent private residence of the 30s; and The Compass Bar, with a maritime theme that spills onto a patio.
Is there anything else to do indoors? Adults and children can sign up for classes at the Peninsula Academy, where the former can take cooking, Chinese wine or tea appreciation courses, or attend tours or talks given by local historians or Chinese opera experts. Youngsters are taught chocolate or cake making, and kite painting. There are also the Peninsula Spa by ESPA, a glass-dome-covered swimming pool, with a Jacuzzi tub, and a gym. The Peninsula Shopping Arcade has in it the mainland flagship stores of Chanel and Berluti, and Polo Ralph Lauren's first 'concept store' in China.
What's the bottom line? Rooms start at 2,300 yuan (HK$2,750), plus taxes. The Peninsula Shanghai is at 32 The Bund, 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road, Shanghai, tel: 86 21 2327 2888; www.peninsula.com.