Tried & Tested

Hotel check: The Westin Bund Center Shanghai

31 May 2008 by business traveller

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Two 26-storey hotel wings – the Grand and Crown Towers – flank an office highrise, making up the Bund Centre. Topping off the 50-storey office tower is a pineapple-like crown which, when lit, forms part of the stunning Bund skyline at night. The mixed-use development was launched in 2002.

The grand atrium hotel lobby features artificial palm trees and a neon-lit cantilevered glass staircase inlaid with rice paper, leading to F&B outlets Niche and Prego, conference levels two and three and EEST The Crystal Garden restaurant on level five. Guests can soak in the atmosphere at the ground-floor lobby lounge called Heavenlies, while enjoying an afternoon tea or cocktails with live entertainment, part of the successful Unwind…A Westin Evening Ritual rolled out across the chain’s over 130 properties worldwide.

The Grand Tower opened last year after an extensive refurbishment by Hirsch Bedner Associates, converting residence units into 269 rooms and suites with an earth-tone, contemporary design. Together with those in the Crown Tower, all guestrooms provide views of either the Huangpu river and Pudong skyscrapers or the city below.

WHERE IS IT? The hotel’s main entrance looks away from the waterfront but takes only five minutes to reach. Shopping (Nanjing Pedestrian Street, Huai Hai Road, luxury flagship stores including Armani and Ermenegildo Zegna), swanky restaurants, lively nightlife along Ju Lu Road and attractions like the Yu Garden and the Natural History Museum are all within easy access, while Pudong’s Lujiazui Financial District is across the river. The hotel is a 20-minute drive from Hongqiao International Airport and 45 minutes from Pudong airport.

HOW MANY ROOMS? A total of 570 guestrooms: 301 in the Crown Tower and 269 in the Grand Tower. Average room sizes range from 45sqm to 250sqm. The Grand Tower has 18 Executive Suites and two WestinWORKOUT Rooms, as well as a private lobby (pictured) and front desk area. Level 15 and above of the Grand Tower are Executive Floors with an all-day lounge serving continental and Chinese buffet breakfast among others, as well as a 24-hour business centre.

ROOM FACILITIES: All rooms in the Grand Tower have internet protocol TVs, which allow guests to watch the scheduled TV programmes or pay-per-view movies and review bills on the LCD flat screens. An audio-visual system in only 120 of such rooms enables them to plug in their MP3 players and offers Westin’s renewal-themed music database. Other creature comforts include the Heavenly Bed, large workdesk, high-speed wired and wireless internet access, and a spacious bathroom with an oversized deep-soaking tub (the Heavenly Bath can be requested with prior notice) and a separate shower area and rain shower.

The Crown Tower includes four suites: Bund, Crown, Shanghai and China. The most popular of them is the Shanghai Suite with a terrace, where occupants are rewarded with river views. Popular Hongkong actress-singer Gigi Leung chose the suite as a location for one of her music videos.

RESTAURANTS: EEST serves Chinese, Thai and Japanese lunch and dinner, while Prego features Italian home-cooking style with an open kitchen, a wood-fire oven and bar.

The Stage opens between 0600 and 2400, and offers a theatrical ambience with live cooking stations and an open kitchen. Brunch is a grand affair every Sunday between 1130 and 1430, with diners occupying The Stage and the Heavenlies lounge on the ground floor and Prego on the second floor. From CNY438 (US$63) per person, the spread includes foie gras, fresh seafood, teppanyaki, handmade pizzas, dumplings, beef carpaccio, Crepe Suzette and a free-flow of fine wines. Treats is a New York-style deli that opens daily, with indoor and outdoor seating.

BARS: Heavenlies seats 72 from 0700 till midnight or 0100 (the Unwind ritual starts from 1800 to 2000 Monday-Friday), while the 53-seat Niche opens from 1700 till late.

BUSINESS FACILITIES: A Grand Ballroom accommodating 700 people and 12 function rooms are located on levels two and three. The business centre provides 24-hour secretarial services and two meeting rooms.

LEISURE FACILITIES: A 20-metre heated pool, steam and sauna rooms, Jacuzzis and Banyan Tree Spa. The two-level fitness centre is open all day and a Run Concierge is available for runs in the Bund area.

PRICE: Rooms from CNY1,888 (US$270) nightly for a weekday stay in late July.

VERDICT: Personable service and a convenient location, enhanced by the 1920s and ’30s European architectural grandeur, benefit the leisure and business traveller.

CONTACT: 88 Henan Central Road, Shanghai 200002, China, tel 86 21 6335 1888, westin.com/shanghai

Julian Tan

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