At the heart of its dynamism is a sophisticated population hungry for cultural experiences both old and new; from traditional Chinese opera to indie music bars remixing vintage classics, from street vendors hawking steaming baskets of xiao long bao to the multi sensory three-Michelin-starred Ultraviolet.
Now, it seems the city’s cool quotient has been jolted to new heights as W Hotels – the brand responsible for sounding the death knell on beige hotels — has landed upon The Bund. With it comes a bold attitude where throbbing bass beats laced with a stiff drink and a sexy boat party or two are considered just another regular day.
Welcome to W Shanghai – The Bund, where the party never ends.
The hotel is an hour of travel by car from Pudong International Airport . The 42-storey building is hard to miss and is located at North Bund in Puxi – the Shanghai district dotted with colonial buidings with hardly any other skyscrapers competing for visual attention (the modern skyscrapers are the other side of The Bund).
From here, it’s about 200 metres away from the nearest metro station: International Cruise Terminal Subway Station, while popular attractions like Xintiandi, City God Temple, People’s Square and West Nanjing Road is a 10 minute drive away on a day when traffic is clear.
The 374 rooms at W Shanghai are chic, well-designed and comfortable. The bulk of them offer stunning views of Pudong’s skyline which includes iconic skyscrapers like the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center.
Turn your attention to the bed and you’ll see a silver cushion in the shape of a xiao long bao accompanied by a giant pair of black chopsticks. If yours is a Wonderful, Spectacular or Cool Corner Room, expect the generous space to come with a round table where you could plonk yourself to use your laptop or stack up your booze (whichever you fancy).
Despite its visually arresting design, efforts are in place to make sure you can unwind when you need to. The beds are immensely comfortable and the bathrobes that hang in the sliding door closet are soft and plush – perfect to snuggle in. Each room also comes with a tub so you can take some time out for a soak.
Music lies at the heart of W Hotels’ identity so expect this strong theme to recur across all its dining venues – that and an informal ethos where drinks almost outshine the food. Staffers casually call this idea B&F – flipping the conventional F&B acronym on its head.
For starters, Woo Bar sits adjacent to the reception area and transforms from an unassuming bar in the day to a sexy club drenched in neon colours and strobe lights at dusk. A DJ booth sits at the centre of the space where a music maestro can take the helm and obliterate the night.
Walk further in and The Kitchen Table comes to the fore. This is the breakfast buffet area themed as a New York bistro (a nod to the brand’s New York city roots) where the usual hotel offerings like crispy bacon, sauteed mushrooms and an ala minute egg station is on hand. Want something local? There’s a noodle station where a helpful server doles out steaming bowls of soupy noodles for you to slurp up. For the full experience of Chinese cuisine though, head to the 37-seater restaurant Yen where Cantonese specialties are whipped up.
The brand’s mantra is to detox, retox, repeat and if you’ve partied a little too much, head to its detoxing facilities like the spa, gym and indoor pool.
Over at Away Spa, the hot stones treatment that we signed up for was the perfect blend of relaxing and vigorous as the gentle warmth of the stones and masseur’s strength helped to knead out the tight knots that form from sitting at our desks. There’s also a well-appointed gender-segregated area which holds a jacuzzi, a sauna and a steam room for you to spend an afternoon simply blissing out.
Those wont to sweat up a storm can head to the gym that’s surprisingly well-equipped for a hotel space. Besides the usual treadmills, stationery bikes and dumbbells, the gym also comes with a smith machine if you’d like to squeeze in squats and barbell bench presses during your stay.
Make no mistake, W Shanghai – The Bund is the city’s hottest hotel right now, what with its edgy attitude and a high octane vibe not seen elsewhere. Those looking for a quiet respite would do better elsewhere but if you’re looking for a spot that matches your rambunctious can-do persona, an atmosphere where you can detox, retox and repeat then consider this your home.