Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Swissotel Grand Shanghai

19 Jun 2008 by Sara Turner

What’s it like? Swissotel Hotels and Resorts is owned by Fairmont Raffles Hotels International and entry into the Chinese market is just taking off. There are currently three Swissotels in China – one in Beijing, another just outside Shanghai in Kunshan (previously a Shangri-La) and this new-build, which had its soft opening in May. The 30-storey hotel is beautifully designed, with a sweeping staircase from the lobby lounge up to the mezzanine first floor, where the restaurants and chocolate shop reside.

Where is it? In the Jing’an business district, close to the popular Nanjing West Road, which leads all the way to the Bund. It is next door to the Jing’an Temple and gardens. The hotel is a 50-minute drive from Pudong International airport and 20 minutes from Hongqiao airport. Alternatively, try the Maglev train from Pudong, which covers the 30 kilometres into the centre in just over seven minutes.

How many rooms? 467, including 94 Classic, 125 Premier, 150 Swiss Advantage and 83 Executive Club rooms, as well as three Pinnacle Suites, 11 Executive Suites and one Presidential Suite. Executive Club rooms (and all suites) have exclusive access to the Club Lounge with personal check-in and check-out, breakfast, snacks and free wifi access. (Pinnacle and Executive Suites are on floors 26-29.)

Room facilities All rooms have high-speed internet access (CNY120/£9 per day), LCD TVs, dual phone lines, desk, radio, safe, minibar (mine was an empty fridge), tea and coffee-making facilities, air-conditioning, iron and ironing-board, and 24-hour room service. The only difference in Classic, Premier and Swiss Advantage rooms is the size, and which floor the rooms are located on. My Premier room had modern décor and stylish design. It overlooked a large shopping mall and there was a good working area with a desk, a directional light and a leather chaise longue to relax on. The bed was very firm, but it was extremely comfortable. The bathroom had a bath with a separate rain shower, and glass walls so you could see the TV, as well as own-brand toiletries (including a wooden comb and a shaving kit) and a thick fleece-lined bathrobe.

Restaurants and bars Café Swiss on the first floor has open kitchens serving Japanese, European, and Chinese fare. It’s open all day and has intimate seating for dinner as well as informal for breakfast. One perk is you can choose your own smoothie by pointing out your favourite fruits and the chef will whip it up. Next to Café Swiss is Mian Ba, a Chinese noodle bar where you write your order on a roll of paper as in traditional restaurants. The Flow bar is in the lobby and has running water surrounding it – when I visited, the chocolate shop was about to open. By the end of July there will be a high-end steakhouse and a Chinese fine-dining option at Yuan Yue.

Meeting and business facilities There are six function rooms, a 575-sqm Grand ballroom and a 390-sqm Junior ballroom. Swissotel also has a business concierge concept to help with individual needs. There is a business centre on the first floor with two computers, as well as printing and photocopying facilities, but I found the email to be painfully slow when I was there. Internet access is CNY40 (£3) for 15 minutes.

Leisure facilities The spa and fitness centre is open now, but when I visited it was having the final touches put in place. The pool was beautiful, bathed in sunlight from a glass roof, and surrounded by loungers. The spa area has large suites with hot pools and steam rooms. There is also a bar selling healthy snacks and drinks.

Verdict Despite having only been open for a short time, when I visited the staff offered top-class service. The hotel has a good location, being within walking distance of one of the main streets.

(Tip: take your room key when you go out, as taxi drivers are still getting to know the hotel and it has directions in Chinese on one side.)

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in July started from CNY799 (£68) for a Classic King room.

Contact Swissotel Grand Shanghai, 1 Yu Yuan Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai; tel +86 21 5355 9898; swissotel.com.

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