When you tell someone you’re going to China, they always ask about two things: pandas and egg rolls. Turns out that egg rolls were most likely invented in New York City and are practically impossible to find anywhere in China. However, panda bears are native to south central China and there was zero chance that I was going to miss an opportunity to hold a baby panda bear.
There is literally one place in the entire world where you can hold a baby panda bear and it’s at Dujiangyan Panda Base and Center for Disease Control which is two hours outside of Chengdu, China. Chengdu, a four hour plane ride from Shanghai, is the capital of Sichuan Province. It’s known for incredibly spicy food and being the birth place of Po, the panda bear from Kung Fu Panda.
Perfect Person: The JW Marriott is perfect for the business traveller that doesn’t mind being away from the city center and wants relaxing accommodations.
Location, location, location: Located 30 minutes from city center and a five-minute taxi ride away from public transportation, the hotel is the suburbs of Shanghai. The location is an excellent opportunity to get a glimpse into a non-touristy part of the city. I enjoyed walking through the nearby Changfeng Park to observe groups of elderly Chinese women dancing and elderly Chinese men engrossed in card games.
Vibes: Despite a striking lobby and grand high ceilings, the hotel gives off a peaceful and tranquil vibe. Away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, the lobby and hallways are so quiet you’ll feel the need to whisper. The indoor pool’s ceiling is lighted to look like stars and each of the guest room’s feature blackout electronic curtains.
Foodie: The hotel’s club lounge is a constant supply of every changing snacks and meals. Guests can get breathtaking views of the nearby park and the distant Shanghai skyline. Each night an in-house chef prepares a local dish and serves it to guests. The Pearl Chinese Restaurant restaurant features several private dining rooms and local cuisine making it the perfect spot for a business meeting.
Extras: Previously a classic Marriott hotel, this JW Marriott has recently been renovated and is almost entirely new. While not as grand as the other hotels on this list, the JW Marriott is a peaceful retreat where it is easy to get work done.
Perfect Person: The Portman Ritz Carlton is perfect for the traveller that wants the traditional luxury hotel experience in a high-end location.
Location, location, location: With the best Western grocery store in the city located on hotel grounds, the Portman Ritz Carlton is a constant stop for almost every expat in the city (the only place I could find granola bars). Located on West Nanjing Road, the hotel is nestled between exclusive designer stores and the Shanghai Convention Center. It’s the perfect spot for those looking to be in an upscale, modern area.
Vibes: Every aspect of the hotel’s decor is impressive. With an imposing entrance and grand lobby, you’ll find plenty of picture worthy rooms throughout the building. Ranked as “The Best Service Hotel” by The City Traveller, the staff did not disappoint. Whether it be the personal trainers in the high-tech gym (which includes a squash court) or the wait staff in the club level lounge, the employees went above and beyond to meet the needs of guests. Within hours, the staff were referring to me as Logan and bringing me more of the candy that I complimented them on.
Foodie: The Ritz features three restaurants including Alan Wong’s. I sampled Hawaiian fusion dishes and fell in love with a coconut sorbet that left me ready to get on a jet for Hawaii. I was delighted to meet Chef Wong and attempted to impress him by complimenting his food despite not even having the vocabulary to pretend to know about high-end gourmet food. I ate the remainder of my meals in the club lounge which featured global dishes and a variety of cocktail choices that would satisfy the most picky of eaters.
Extras: The entire hotel could be considered “extra”. Luxury and opulence are everywhere. From rooftop yoga to a library-esque bar, it’s lives up to the expectations of a “Ritz”. The hotel also features a tea ceremony on Fridays that gives guest a luxurious way to see local culture and customs.
Four Seasons Puxi
Perfect Person: The traveller that wants to experience the culture of Old Shanghai and hang with locals without losing the luxury five-star hotel experience.
Location, location, location: I easily navigated from the airport to the hotel using Shanghai’s (super clean) metro system. The hotel is in the heart of Shanghai and is within walking distance to the major shopping street, West Nanjing Road, and The Bund skyline viewing area. With the metro station less than a block away, I had no problem getting anywhere in the city.
Vibes: The hotel has recently been remodeled and vibes like a standard luxury hotel. With high ceilings and art deco accents, I give the overall lobby aesthetic an A. The Four Seasons has all of the standard amenities: a full-service gym and spa, a business center with city views, and an indoor pool. If it weren’t creepy, I would have snapchatted the gym’s bathroom. The bathrooms rival any spa and feature multiple jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas, and a relaxation room. It’s worth checking out (even if you don’t make use of the gym).
Foodie: If I would have stayed at this hotel any longer, I would have gained weight. I had never tried “hairy crab” prior to staying at the Four Seasons, now I am obsessed. The hotel’s Si Ji Xuan is Michelin Guide recommended, features Shanghainese and Cantonese dishes, and serves all food on real Jade utensils. Followed up with an incredibly extensive breakfast buffet or picture perfect afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge, the Four Seasons does not let a foodie down.
Extras: The reason this hotel is my hands-down choice for Shanghai is the “Inside Historic Shanghai” experience. Local renowned photographer, Gang Feng Wang takes you to the neighborhood he grew up in, gives you an oral history of his life and the neighborhood, introduces you to locals, and conducts several impromptu photoshoots. The experience is a once-in-a-lifetime exclusive opportunity that will leave you with profile pic worthy photos, a great appreciation for the history of Shanghai, and several new friends.