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LUXURY HOTELS: The Peninsula Shanghai, China
Style: A 21st century take on Art Deco
Scene: Overlooking The Bund
Seen in the Lobby: The designer -dressed, straight from the Chanel boutique below.
 
Some hotels give you that over-used term the 'Wow Moment ' but for me The Peninsula Shanghai gives you an 'Ahh Moment', said with a deep and contented sign the instant you step through the door.
The Peninsula has thought of everything - which means you hardly have to think at all. I swear if I took up permanent residence I'd lose the use of my faculties in a week. Wilting in the Shanghai summer? No problem, I can adjust not just the air-conditioning but the humidity in each room of my Grand Deluxe River Suite. Need to dry my nails after a coat of Dragon Red Chanel polish? No problem, there's a nail dryer slot in my dressing room wall to save me having to work up the energy to blow on them. Want to relax in the bath after a hard day's work? Absolutely no problem, the press of a button dims the lights in my bathroom then plays me soothing music and birdsong while I sink into my bubbles.
 

exterior rolls royce
exterior rolls royce
grand deluxe suite bedroom
palace suite living room
peninsula suite lounge dusk
salon de ning main bar
sir elly roof top bar

 
I could get use to this. In fact I do, by the next morning I know better than to leap out of bed to open the blinds or search for the TV remote. Instead I simply reach one languid, lazy arm out of the covers and press a button or two on my bedside consol; immediately the curtains swish back and almost simultaneously CNN news plays on my plasma.
I also find a Nespresso machine, a desktop iPod dock, and a 1,000-channel Internet radio. The Wi-Fi is complimentary (other five stars please take note) and most impressive of all is the new VOIP internet telephone which allows me to Skype the world and phone home for free. Eat your heart out ET. In a world where most people avoid overpriced hotel phone calls like the plague, this is forward thinking.
After a treatment in the hotel's Signature Spa by ESPA - being rolled over with bamboo sticks never felt so good - I settle down in the rest room, plug headphones on for sweet music (as if I needed any more relaxing) and flick through a coffee table book of Shanghai's history. The Peninsula Shanghai is the first new building on the Bund in over 60 years. When it opened in October 2009 it heralded the return of parent company, The Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd, to the city of Shanghai, where it had owned and operated four of China's best hotels from the 1920s to the 1950s. Queen of The bund, the hotel pays homage to this past and to the other historic buildings along the banks of the Huangpu River with an Art Deco inspired interior by Pierre-Yves Rochon. Minty greens and powder blues decorate the lobby and the luxurious rooms.
 
... the hotel pays homage to this past and to the other historic buildings along the banks of the Huangpu River with an Art Deco inspired interior.
It is hard to work up the energy to step outside the Peninsula's pampered perimeter (although Chief Concierge Simon Huang has plenty of suggestions should you want to). I could choose Yi Long Court with its Michelin starred chef and 'Last Emperor' ambience or Sir Elly's with its funky orange seats, circular bar and roof terrace. Or I could enjoy the clubby, maritime feel of The Compass. However I can't resist the pull of Salon de Ning, who needs a bouncer when your doorway is presided over by a giant King Kong statue? Here 1930s decadence meets Dali-esque decoration. Giant gilt picture frames act as entrances to private rooms, like a series of tableaux where drinkers merge with their surreal surrounding : one has books shelves and a desk suspended from the ceiling, another a big game safari feel. I perch on a bar stool and stare across at the room opposite where a giant Jaws shark is suspended above the heads of partying Beijing businessmen.
 

sir elly
sir elly
afternoon tea
the lobby day
yi long court chefs table
yi long court
movie poster

We drink a special Snow Flower and the Secret Fan cocktail created to celebrate the fact that part of the just released movie, starring Li Bingbing, Jun Ji-hyun and Hugh Jackman was filmed in the hotel. Director Wayne Wang and the cast were partying in the in the Palace Suite during the Shanghai Film festival a couple of days before I checked in. Sadly all traces of the party are gone when I look around the sleek white suite and out across one of the largest private terraces in the city, where one of the best moments in the film was shot.
 

They also shot scenes in The Peninsula's impressive columned lobby. A string quartet playing in the minstrel's gallery provides the sound track when I walk in for afternoon tea; silver racks are piled high with cakes as delicate as Chinese fans and there is an audible clink of bone china as guests sip their Peninsula blend tea. Giant 3D murals by Hong Kong artist Helen Poon provide the backdrop.
 
The hotel's art is impressive, a modern touch which somehow blends with the art Deco feel.
The hotel's art is impressive, a modern touch which somehow blends with the art Deco feel. My favourite is The Curl (By Ben Jakober and Yannick Vu) a six metre spiral of Swarovski crystals which hangs over the staircase on the way to the Rose Ballroom.
At the entrance to the designer arcade is another Swarovski spiral. You don't need to step outside to shop either just head down the corridor to browse China's flagship Chanel store ,decorated as a replica of Coco Chanel's sitting room or to the arcade to buy yourself a Graff diamond (Peninsula arcades are the only place in Asia you find Graff). No wonder everyone in the lobby looks so well dressed.
At the end of my stay I take one of the hotel's Rolls Royce Phantoms to the airport, the experience makes that ahhh moment last that little bit long. We glide through the early morning rush hour as if it doesn't exist; other cars just seem to melt away in deference to the Brewster green Rolls. Inside its leather interior I fire up the internet and answer emails in a desultory fashion. The car has its own wireless network called simply RR, now that's style.
 
Behind me the Shanghai skyscrapers disappear into the mist and it's a smooth ride all the way - ahhhhhhhhh.
 
The Luxury Travel Bible takes a tour of The Peninsula Shanghai
 
Check in: No 32 The Bund, 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road, Shanghai, China
Ultimate Luxury: A ride in the 1934 vintage Rolls Royce
Most Indulgent Moment: A Bamboo Harmoniser spa treatment in the stylish Spa by ESPA
Insider Secrets: Henry Leung based his designs for Yi Long Court on the characters of a friend's old Shanghaiese family
The Little Things: So many, they think of everything
Junior Luxies: The Peninsula can cope with anything, even your little darlings
Dress code: Serious labels please
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link: www.peninsula.com/Shanghai
Hilary Doling 6/7/11
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