WHAT’S IT LIKE? The latest addition to Shanghai’s glitzy skyline, this hotel occupies the top 59 floors (with lobby on the ground) of a 66-storey landmark comprising offices, which can be spotted from afar with its pair of “antennas”.
Opened in September 2006, it is one of the tallest buildings in Shanghai Puxi on the bustling Nanjing Road East, overlooking Shanghai Museum in the Puxi district and Pudong with Huangpu River and the Bund. To mark its official opening last December, a First Night celebration entitled “The sky is the limit” featured a Thierry Dreyfus-designed light and art installation that re-imagined the Shanghai cityscape. First Night celebration is the Le Méridien brand’s signature artistic experience designed for new hotel openings worldwide and illustrates its new direction since the brand was acquired by Starwood Hotels & Resorts in November 2005.
WHERE IS IT? A 45-minute drive from Pudong International Airport, Le Royal Méridien is located on Nanjing Road East, opposite People’s Square and overlooking the Shanghai Museum, Grand Theatre and Museum of Contemporary Art. Tip: get directions written down in Chinese to show to the cab driver to avoid being dropped off on the wrong side, which will find you painfully inching your way through the thick crowds.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 770 guestrooms offering views of the Huangpu River, People’s Park and the city centre. Of these, 115 suites measure between 48sq m and 377sq m, and consist of a living room and one or two bedrooms, a spacious bathroom, working area and sofa.
ROOM FACILITIES: Individually controlled air conditioning, IDD phone, hairdryer, coffee and tea-making facilities, safe, sofa, Wi-Fi access, DVD/VCD/CD player and a 42-inch satellite TV are standard amenities. The TV – centrepiece of my Royal Club Executive Suite (pictured) – sat on a 360° rotating table, which allowed me to watch and channel surf from the glass bathroom with rain shower. Small favours like getting a prepaid local phone-card were done swiftly, courtesy of my personal butler who was attentive and spoke English fluently.
RESTAURANTS & BARS: A total of 10 – Asian and Western taste buds are catered to all day long at Le Bistrot which throbs with live entertainment in the evenings, while lunch and dinner can be enjoyed at Ai Mei (Cantonese), Allure (French and Mediterranean) and Italian restaurant and bar Favola, which features an open kitchen and a wine-cellar private dining room. Light eaters can head to Chill for its health/spa menu, while after-fivers can lounge in 789 Nanjing Lu I, II and III for cocktails and the spectacular panoramic views of Shanghai or Le Salon for snacks and live entertainment.
LEISURE FACILITIES: A spa, gym and an indoor heated pool with Jacuzzi, sauna and steam bath.
BUSINESS FACILITIES: Sprawled across 2,000sq m of conference space are two grand ballrooms boasting natural lighting, five meeting rooms and a VIP room, complete with full conference facilities like a simultaneous translation system, state-of-the-art audio and video equipment, sound system, LCD projector and screen, lighting equipment, broadband internet access and computers for rent.
VERDICT: An all-inclusive business package.
PRICE: CNY2,250 (US$293) online for three nights in a Royal Club Executive Suite in early August.
CONTACT: 789 Nanjing Road East, Shanghai 200001, China, tel 86 21 3318 9999, www.lemeridien.com/royalshanghai