My undying love for Shanghai began as I was escorted to the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong amid horrifying traffic. The luxury sedan came equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi, so I had plenty to keep me busy though I never even logged in. In the car were two members from the hotel to keep me company. That’s a first. Sure, I’ve had a car and driver pick me up many times while traveling overseas, but it’s not often a second staff member comes along for company purposes. As with any Ritz-Carlton experience, luxury amenities start before arriving on property.
The hotel fills the top floors of a 58-story all-glass IFC building that gleams like crystal among the futuristic skyscrapers that tower over the Huangpu River. The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai exudes the glamour of the 1930s with Art Deco-inspired interiors and a beautiful urban retreat overlooking the Bund. The best part? It’s all in the location, location, location. Businessmen and women drool over its spot in the Lujiazui financial district. Shopaholics love that the hotel connects to the couture-filled IFC mall, and tourists find it a convenient distance to popular attractions such as the Oriental Pearl Tower. Its close proximity to the Bund makes for a coveted view, too.
Driving up to the 58-story building, I couldn’t wait to see the ever-evolving skyline. I’d seen photos taken from the iconic Flair Bar where I was about to walk in on the hotel’s 5 Year Anniversary Party upon arrival, but even photos couldn’t prepare me for this nighttime view.
Flair Bar is China’s highest rooftop bar.
After an abbreviated tour, I stepped into what I can only describe as an oriental heaven for the next few days. I was greeted with a rose-petaled ‘Welcome Home’ sign among macarons and other treats I scarfed down before bed. The living room had ample space, but the best view was seen from the bedroom. Please say a kind hello to my expansive living quarters:
Who needs any resemblance of TV when this is what you see before going to sleep and after waking up? Carry the party over to room-service and you’re really doing things right. From the corner suite, I enjoyed sweeping Bund and Pearl Tower views.
Moving right along to the bathroom, you know what happened next: tub time. Can’t stop, won’t stop. Does it get more decadent than this? 没有 (No, in Mandarin.)
Each night as I returned “home” from exploring the city, I discovered various surprises in the form of different luxuries including bubble bath, a gum drop “treat” tree, a bottle of wine and a handmade card signed by the staff members who I came to know and love throughout my time on property.
As if coming home to culinary delights and exquisite bath and body works didn’t suffice, I was further spoiled with cocktails at Flair Bar, access to the pool and gym with a view, and complimentary tea time and caviar party in the Club Lounge. Every Friday at 6pm, Club Lounge guests can indulge in a complimentary caviar party. Excuse me. A complimentary champagne and caviar party. Lucky for me, I was around at 6pm on a Friday. Score!
More perks of the Club Lounge included intimate snacks, meals and tea at various hours throughout the day, private check-in/check-out, limo rides for short distances from 7am – 10pm, and the list goes on. Beyond all of this was the noticeable level of high service by Club Lounge Staff, which leads me to…
Greeted by name, I was taken aback at the the warm and welcoming staff that I was given the opportunity to know. Incredible emphasis was put on making my stay personal, as if the smiling faces I recently met had been my next door neighbors for years. The people of the Ritz-Calton Shanghai aimed to transport me to the perfect home-away-from-home, creating personal touches I’ve never seen done before in my many years of travel. Each time I came back, I met someone knew who had a compelling story to tell along with fascinating city recommendations their way, coming from their own personal experiences and opinions which I truly admired. Nothing about the Ritz is cookie cutter. Certainly not their staff. It’s these little details that truly made me stand in awe at the highest caliber of work these incredible people exude.
Another mind-blowing tid-bit was when the staff noticed I was traveling in Shanghai alone. Knowing a travel experience can only get sweeter when sharing it with someone else, they introduced me to Nebula, a 20something Chinese woman with lots of wit and personality. I was honored to be at her side, experiencing Shanghai like a local, like she would experience it on any given day. Discovering a good mix of the city highlights, such as the Bund, coupled with off-the-beaten-path activities such as an afternoon playing dress-up in her favorite qipao shop, had Shanghai topping the list of favorite Asian destination.
I want to give a special thank you to the friendly faces that made me feel especially at home during my time on property. Thank you to Mr. Rainer Burkle, Antonio on site, Frances, Alexis, and Nebula for going the extra extra mile, Timm and Steven in the lounge, Taylor from Concierge and Phoebe from Guest Relations for an unforgettable experience, and to all those working behind the scenes. I hope to see you again sometime soon at the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong!
Few cities evoke such glamor, history and promise than Shanghai, China’s largest city and global financial hub. At its heart is the Bund, the popular waterfront lined with colonial buildings. Opposite the river are Pudong’s most futuristic skyscrapers, such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and my personal favorite, a building that looks exactly like a bottle opener. The city screams energy with young people buzzing about with a common sense of purpose. The shopping, creative architecture and culinary scene have locals and travelers straight spoiled. If you want my recs, here they come:
Do: The Bund, Yu Garden, Xintiandi, Tianzifang
Eat: What – Try the city’s specialty, Xiao long bao; Where – Jin Xuan, a traditional Cantonese restaurant inside the Ritz, created by Michelin-star Chef Daniel Wong
Buy: What – Qipaos, the traditional Chinese dress; Where – Xintiandi
Sleep: Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong
The Road Les Traveled was welcomed to the hotel as a guest, however my opinions are as always, my own.