What's it like?
Originally opened in 1934 as the Yangtze hotel and designed by Chinese architect Li Pan, the hotel reopened in June last year as the first boutique property of the Langham brand. The interior is on a small, almost intimate scale, and features art deco-inspired patterns, gilt detailing and marble, antique-style mirrors, and thick, dark carpets with intricate red floral motifs. Each evening a singer performs from a sweeping staircase, accompanied by a pianist in the lobby, and when you look up you see a stained-glass ceiling inspired by the Mu’en Church next door on People’s Square.
It’s a friendly hotel – staff greet you by name and are able to help with directions and suggest what sightseeing can easily be achieved. The hotel uses luxuryconciergechina.com for its guided tours – ask for Spencer Dodington, a qualified architect who is superb company.
Where is it?
Next door to the Raffles City mall and People’s Park on Hankou Road, which runs parallel to the better-known Fuzhou and Nanjing East roads (all lead to the Bund). You can catch the high-speed Maglev train from Pudong airport to Longyang Road and take line two to People’s Square (exit 14 is almost opposite the hotel entrance).
The 96 rooms, including 15 suites, are on floors three to eight. The sixth floor is for smokers. Corridors are decorated with box frames holding items from the Shanghai museum.
Entry-level Art Deco rooms are 31 sqm, but the age of the building means many rooms are of differing shapes and sizes (all are at least this size though, and entry-level suites are 50-55 sqm). All have 42-inch LG LCD televisions (plus a 19-inch screen above the huge bath) with several English-language channels, plus iPod docks and DVD players.
Nice touches included tea and coffee-making facilities and a selection of fine Chinese teas including Longjing, Pu’er and Tie Guan Yin. All rooms have a separate bath and shower. Amenities are by Langham’s own brand Chuan Spa, and are rather underwhelming compared with other five-star brands in terms of packaging and size. The rooms are well-equipped with a safe, an iron and ironing board, and wired and wifi internet (120 yuan/£11 per day, although most room packages include free access). I had a brief problem connecting but a technology expert called to the door within minutes and fixed it very quickly.
Restaurants and bars
People familiar with the Langham’s Hong Kong hotel will recognise the Cantonese restaurant, T’ang Court. In Hong Kong, it holds two Michelin stars, and the Shanghai hotel has similar hopes. In addition, there is Mado Izakaya, a Japanese restaurant on the ground floor, and Ciao, serving Italian Mediterranean cuisine. This is all-day dining but under chef Michele Antonio Totaro it obviously has ambitions, best displayed in the eight-course tasting menu for dinner (388 yuan/£35). I had a simple pasta dish with fresh vegetables followed by a main of grilled fish – both were delicious. The bar is on the first floor and has a good list of whiskies and champagnes.
Business and meeting facilities
The Pearl room on the top floor has natural light and overlooks the Mu’en Church and People’s Square. It can host up to 250 people for cocktails and 180 for a banquet, and is served by an additional glass elevator that runs from the lobby. Guests can also use the sixth floor terrace, the 75 sqm Jade room, and nine private dining rooms.
The Chuan spa on the third floor has four treatment rooms, steam showers, wet and dry saunas, an ice shower, and a fair-sized fitness centre (open 6am-10.30pm) with new equipment. The recently opened Chuan Residences, on the same floor, have direct access to the spa.
A great boutique option in a prime position just by People’s Square and with good access to the metro system. The friendly service is particularly welcome if this is your first time in Shanghai.
How many rooms? There are 96 rooms, including 15 suites. The categories are distinguished more by size than views.
Room highlights The free wifi access and the great selection of teas.
Price Internet rates for a midweek stay in March started from 1,840 yuan (£167) for an Art Deco room.
Contact The Langham, Yangtze Boutique, Shanghai, 740 Hankou Road; tel +86 21 6080 0800; langhamhotels.com