The Best Business Hotels in Shanghai

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Aug 10, 2017

Live in the lap of luxury at Shanghai’s best business hotels, from colonial grandeur to cutting-edge style. By Crystyl Mo.

China’s undisputed financial centre, Shanghai prides itself on its cosmopolitan culture, sharp fashion, shrewd business sense and sprawling megapolis of skyscrapers, including the Shanghai Tower, the second tallest building in the world. Foreign direct investment to Shanghai has increased for 17 straight years and the city is regional headquarters of more than 500 multinationals. This influx has created a vibrant expatriate community; plenty of visitors get around smoothly without speaking any Chinese, although offering a hello (nǐ hǎo) and thankyou (xiè xie) will almost always win you a smile.

What’s most impressive is how organised Shanghai feels for an urban centre of more than 24 million people. Its 14 subway lines – the longest metro system in the world – are spick and span and there’s virtually zero violent crime. The city is split into west of the Huangpu River (Puxi, which includes the Old City and downtown) and east of the river (Pudong – that postcard photo you may have seen, with the pink balls of the Oriental Pearl Tower and sky-high hotels, A-level offices and banks that represent New Shanghai).

While locals often favour shiny malls over historic districts, there are still some quiet areas, including the tree-lined former French Concession, a residential neighbourhood with Art Deco buildings and buzzing cafés. This is a city with a stellar dining and bar scene: there are almost 170,000 restaurants and eating out is the de facto way to do business.

Wanda Reign On The Bund

Anointing itself the first seven-star hotel in Shanghai, the new Wanda Reign on the Bund racked up ¥3.4 billion ($670 million) in construction costs, evidenced in its sleek glass-and-steel exterior, high-priced Chinoiserie and swank rooms with New Zealand wool bedding and American Talalay mattresses. The hotel even has a chauffeured Rolls-Royce Phantom to greet special guests.

Business facilities: A 180-degree skyline view, eight-metre-high ceilings, an 82-square-metre LED screen and state-of-the-art audio system deck out the 720-square-metre Grand Ballroom.

Wi-fi: Complimentary throughout.

Food and wine: In line with the no-expense-spared ethos, Michelin-starred French chef Marc Meneau was brought in to launch his signature Marc restaurant and champagne lounge, serving afternoon tea and dinner on the rooftop. For Huaiyang dishes from neighbouring Jiangsu province, book a private dining room at River Drunk.

Fitness and wellbeing: Get your workout at any time in the hotel’s 24-hour gym and mirror-surface swimming pool or head to luxury Shui Spa for treatments.

Run route: From Wanda Reign’s entrance, run north along the Bund waterfront until the Waibaidu Bridge, where the Huangpu and Suzhou rivers meet, before looping back. The round trip is just over five kilometres.

Coffee nearby: Five minutes north up the Bund you’ll find the slick new Soho complex, hosting Delimuses (B1, Building G, Waitang Soho, 58 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu), a polished Western chain with well-brewed cappuccinos. It’s great for a quick salad or pasta, too. 

538 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, Huangpu District

The Puli Hotel and Spa

Possibly Shanghai’s best-placed luxury boutique hotel, The Puli is smack in the centre of downtown. From the bustle of Nanjing Xi Lu, one of the city’s busiest shopping and business districts, you enter an “urban resort” of calm, a stunning oasis of soaring ceilings, black stone and unpolished wood. On this same block are the historic Jing’an Temple, major malls, offices and two subway lines.

Business facilities: Customised event planning is offered in the meeting room on the third floor and the event space on the 26th floor can host up to 150 people, with views of Jing’an Park and the Shanghai skyline.

Wi-fi: Complimentary throughout.

Food and wine: The “intuitive French cuisine” of Phénix Eatery & Bar was awarded a Michelin star just one year after opening in 2016. For drinks, the hotel has an impressive 32-metre bar with a vast selection of wines and champagnes by the glass. The all-day bar with Garden Terrace is an ideal downtown venue for business over breakfast or drinks.

Fitness and wellbeing: The drawcard here is the 25-metre indoor infinity pool, which looks directly onto verdant Jing’an Park. The 24-hour health club has “experiential” showers and Technogym equipment.

Coffee nearby: About 10 minutes’ walk past Jing’an Temple, Seesaw Coffee (seesawcoffee.com) is an airy café in a vintage building that serves excellent brews, including flat whites.

1 Changde Lu, Jing’an District

Mandarin Oriental Pudong

If the Bund represents Shanghai’s colonial grandeur then Lujiazui is the vertical city of the future. The district’s 362-room Mandarin Oriental Pudong is aimed squarely at high-end business travellers. Home to Shanghai’s largest and priciest presidential suite, a 788-square-metre spectacle complete with a sky-garden terrace, the hotel also stands out for its collection of 4000 artworks, many by local artists.

Business facilities: Prestigious events, this is your address. There are nearly 2000 square metres of state-of-the-art meeting spaces and a huge ballroom with Chinese motifs, all served by a kitchen that prepares refreshments à la minute.

Wi-fi: Complimentary throughout.

Food and wine: Superb steakhouse Fifty 8° Grill is overseen by one of Asia’s most celebrated chefs, Richard Ekkebus, whose Hong Kong restaurant, Amber, has both Michelin-star and World’s 50 Best Restaurants rankings. Also, don’t miss Yong Yi Ting, serving exquisite local cuisine by Tony Lu, the only mainland Chinese chef on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list (for his other Shanghai venue, Fu He Hui in Changning District. It’s worth a special trip).

Fitness and wellbeing: The fitness centre features a Kinesis wall, virtual trainers, a 25-metre indoor pool and thermal baths.

Run route: The hotel has a newly renovated riverside promenade outfitted with a rubberised track. On Binjiang Avenue, you can go east to Dalian Lu (about 1.3 kilometres) or west to Fenghe Lu (about 1.1 kilometres); either way, you’ll have views of the Huangpu and the Bund.

Coffee nearby: In under 15 minutes (head towards the Oriental Pearl Tower and turn left on Century Avenue for the mall), caffeine obsessives can walk to Fuel Espresso (fuelespresso.com).

111 Pudong Nan Lu, Pudong

Waldorf Astoria 

Housed in the historic Shanghai Club building, the Waldorf Astoria epitomises Old Shanghai grandeur. The décor is flawless vintage luxury, with crystal chandeliers, plush velvet and dark-timber panelling everywhere. You truly step back in time when you sidle up to the Long Bar, a faithful reproduction of the notorious early-20th-century drinking venue for the city’s wealthiest businessmen.

Business facilities: The Waldorf’s ballrooms, boardrooms and outdoor event spaces feature classic French architecture and stunning waterfront views. Across a landscaped courtyard (which can also be booked) are eight executive boardrooms.

Wi-fi: Complimentary throughout.

Food and wine: Three restaurants and two lounges, as well as the aforementioned unmissable Long Bar, offer everything from fancy French at Pelham’s to perfectly plated contemporary Chinese at Wei Jing Ge.

Fitness and wellbeing: There’s a 24/7 fitness centre and a heated pool (open 6am to 11pm) but it’s the expansive spa you’ll want to visit. Treatments incorporate traditional Chinese medicine and modernities such as oxygen facials.

Run route For a change of scenery from the classic Bund, run south along Zhongshan Dong Er Lu to Fuxing Dong Lu, turn left and then make a quick right onto Waima Lu to take in the Cool Docks riverside restaurant complex. Loop back to the hotel for a run of about 4.2 kilometres.

Coffee nearby: A 10-minute walk left from the hotel and left again on Guangdong Lu, Narrow Gate (85 Shandong Zhong Lu) is a tiny, immaculate takeaway window offering careful pour-overs and a fine flat white at a bargain ¥16 ($3).

2 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Huangpu District 

SEE ALSO: 5 Great Things to Do in Shanghai on Your Next Business Trip