Sophie Friedman

Correspondent

  • Shanghai, China, Asia

Sophie Friedman is a correspondent who lives in Shanghai and covers hotels and travel trends in Asia for Forbes Travel Guide. The American journalist has covered a range of travel-related topics including the development of the mountain resort town Moganshan, the Chinese fashion scene’s rising international profile, and the expanding craft cocktail and beer scene in Asia. She has written half a dozen Shanghai guidebooks and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the city. When not writing, Sophie loves cycling through the former French Concession and getting bargains on everything from Pellegrino to porcelain.

  • On December 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the dress code at Jin Sha?

    The dress code at Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake’s Jin Sha is smart casual. In addition to hotel guests, the restaurant is popular with nearby office workers and groups of business folk holding lunch meetings, so it’s not uncommon to see some visitors in shorts while others might be in a full suit. You shouldn’t feel pressured to dress formally to dine at Jin Sha. Those who eat in the restaurant during the weekends will see it revert to a more casual scene, as families with children come for dim sum. While we wouldn’t recommend dining at the Hangzhou restaurant in a robe and slippers, it would be acceptable to sit on the terrace in a pair of shorts and a polo shirt and enjoy a cup of locally harvested longjing tea alongside dishes like steamed vegetable dumplings and honey barbecue pork.
  • On December 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    Where is Jin Sha located?

    Jin Sha is located on the ground floor of Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake in a lakeside village about 45 minutes outside of Shanghai. You can enter either through the hotel or directly from the street. Four Seasons Hangzhou’s Chinese restaurant caters both to hotel guests and to locals who come to eat delicious Cantonese, Shanghainese and Hangzhounese cuisine, made with local ingredients and served in an elegant dining room. The main dining room seats 100 guests, and an additional 38 can sit outside overlooking the garden. The Hangzhou restaurant also has 11 stand-alone private dining rooms; these accommodate between six and 16 guests, and all offer water views and terraces. Two of the private dining rooms have open kitchens so you can watch as all elements of the meal come together.
  • On December 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the design style of Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake?

    The design style of Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake is traditional Chinese meets Western. The hotel’s convenient location in the West Lake historic district restricted its height and so all 81 rooms are spread across just two floors. The hotel has a white exterior and pagoda-style multi-level roof done in traditional dark tiles. The lobby is airy and filled with sunlight, as are the two restaurants; nearly all of the spaces at the Hangzhou hotel have windows so you can enjoy the view. The Balinese spa and pool are heavy on the dark, carved wood that creates a tranquil, transportive atmosphere, but the guest rooms have a more Western-style aesthetic. Despite being decorated in a neutral gray and beige palette, the rooms are bright a light. Colorful accents come from vases of fresh flowers and touches of chinoiserie, like carved wooden boxes and lamps that emit warmth.
  • On December 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What’s the best time to visit Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake?

    The best time to visit Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake is in the spring, fall and summer, when you can take advantage of its outdoor swimming pond and alfresco dining. Chinese restaurant Jin Sha offers 38 outdoor seats and all-day-dining restaurant West Lake Bistro has 40, so you can dine outside for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The tables overlook the hotel’s gardens and pond, and it’s in this very water that you can take a dip on steamy summer days.

    Although it’s most pleasant to stroll and cycle (the Hangzhou hotel provides complimentary bike rentals) around West Lake in spring and fall, winter in the city is beautiful — and you can swim indoors in the luxury hotel’s gorgeous Balinese-inspired pool. Afterward, head to the lobby lounge, where you can curl up with a good book and a hot cup of locally harvested longjing tea.
  • On December 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What are the rooms like at Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake?

    The rooms at Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake are warm, welcoming and spacious. They start from 678 square feet, giving you plenty of space to move around. The hotel’s guest rooms are decorated in a neutral gray and beige palette, with colorful accents from lovely fresh flowers and chinoiserie elements such as red carved wooden boxes. Beds, either one king or two queens, are plush and sumptuous, neatly made up with crisp white linens. Sunlight floods through the bedroom and bathroom’s large windows, which open to let in fresh air. Rooms with balconies have additional touches of Asian flair in the dark wooden shutters and the cushioned wicker furniture on which you can sit and overlook the Hangzhou hotel’s immaculately manicured grounds. In-room technology includes curtain control at the touch of a button, a panel of outlets with slots for a USB and an HDMI cable, and a hidden TV that rises from a cabinet.
  • On December 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the style of Spa at West Lake?

    The style of Spa at West Lake at Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake is traditional Chinese meets Balinese, with contemporary flair. Enter each treatment room through a round doorway, similar to those seen on ancient Chinese homes. Inside the rooms, it’s all dark wood and low lighting, but there are pops of color here and there, both from vases of fresh flowers and from the neon pink that backs the carved wooden privacy screens. While the rest of the hotel is flooded with light, the lobby at the Hangzhou spa is quiet and darker. You are invited to sit and relax before and after a treatment with a cup of seasonal tea (often locally harvested), fresh fruit and granola-like biscotti. The seating in the lobby lounge is plush and inviting, and wouldn’t look out of place at a holiday house in Southeast Asia.
  • On December 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What kinds of massages are offered at Spa at West Lake?

    Eight kinds of massages are offered at Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake’s Spa at West Lake. All of the treatments here were designed exclusively for the hotel and won’t be found at any other Four Seasons. Massages are available in 60- and 90-minute increments. The Jet Lag Retreat is great for guests who’ve just stepped off a plane. You’re encouraged to deeply inhale eucalyptus while the massage therapist works to stimulate skin and circulation by applying some spinal pressure to help reset your body clock. For spa-goers who want to relax after a long day of sightseeing, the Hangzhou spa’s reflexology massage will help you do just that — and prepare you for another day of pavement pounding. Reflexology is aimed at relieving tension and improving circulation, and Chinese traditional medicine devotees believe that when nerve endings are stimulated, blocked energy is released.
  • On December 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What kinds of skincare products are used at Spa at West Lake?

    Aromatherapy Associates, Futuresse and Four Seasons brand skincare products are used at Spa at West Lake at Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake. These products are available at the spa gift shop, which is in the lobby. You’ll also find silk scarves and robes here; the spa retail area is the gift shop for the whole hotel. These three types of products are used in all treatments, which were designed exclusively for the hotel. Because the hotel is in Hangzhou, where tea is grown and harvested and plays such a role in culture, a number of the treatments include tea or products derived from it. One such service is the 2.5-hour Dragon Well Tea and Jade Spring Ritual. It takes 60,000 leaves to make a kilo (or two pounds) of longjing tea, so this treatment includes a bath in the extract of 60,000 leaves. In addition to the bath, you will also enjoy a tea and spring blossom body scrub, a tea wrap and a tea oil massage as part of the service at the Hangzhou spa.
  • On December 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What kinds of skincare products are used at Waldorf Astoria Spa Shanghai?

    Waldorf Astoria Spa Shanghai uses several different types of skincare products, including Aromatherapy Associates, Valmont, Intraceuticals and VitaMan. Most of the spa’s products are displayed in its spacious relaxation room, a warm, welcoming space where you can enjoy tea, coffee and bite-size desserts like those on Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund’s afternoon tea menu. Many of the men’s treatments employ the VitaMan products, while Aromatherapy Associates items tend to be used for massages. Many of the skincare products used at the Shanghai spa are available for purchase.
  • On December 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    Does Waldorf Astoria Spa Shanghai offer couples treatments?

    Waldorf Astoria Spa Shanghai does not offer any specific couples treatments, but almost all of its treatments can be had side by side in the VIP spa suite, which accommodates two. Pairs visiting the spa in Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund can choose to do the same treatment, or have different services from the extensive menu. Although all treatments are unisex, there’s also a special section just for men, with options like the Gentleman’s Facial. This 50-minute treatment is designed to clean and hydrate skin and leaves your face more evenly textured. Other top treatment options at the Shanghai spa include the 50- or 80-minute aromatherapy massage, which includes a facial cleanse, or the 40-minute foot therapy, a soak, sea salt scrub and massage, perfect for feet tired from sightseeing.
  • On December 30, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What is the best way to get an appointment at Waldorf Astoria Spa Shanghai?

    The best way to get an appointment at Waldorf Astoria Spa Shanghai is to book at least 24 hours ahead of time. The staff at the spa inside Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund will do its best to get you a same-day appointment if possible. Appointments can be made by email, online, over the phone or in person. You are requested to arrive 20 minutes prior to treatment to ensure enough time to change and take advantage of the steam and rain shower. But the Shanghai spa’s spacious relaxation lounge is a lovely place to enjoy private afternoon tea, so we suggest going there more than 40 minutes early and having a drink and bite before beginning your bamboo massage.
  • On December 11, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What kinds of skincare products are used at Flare Spa?

    Skincare products from French company Guerlain are used at Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai’s Flare Spa. In fact, it is the only Guerlain-branded spa in China. Guerlain, founded in 1828, is one of the world’s oldest perfume houses. Although Guerlain started out specializing in fragrance, it has since expanded to include a wide range of cosmetics, and the makeup and nail polish are employed at Flare. Try the Orchidée Impériale Signature Facial, which uses Guerlain’s Orchidée Impériale line with orchid extracts. The products used at the Shanghai spa are different from those found in the hotel’s rooms; guests will find their bathrooms filled with bright red bottles of Lorenzo Villoresi Firenze bath products.
  • On December 11, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    What kinds of massages are offered at Flare Spa?

    Flare Spa has five massages and three packages that include rubdowns. Body massages are available in 60- and 90-minute increments; the spa’s foot massage is available for 30 or 60 minutes. Among the options is the Four Hands at Four Seasons massage, in which two therapists work on your knots and kinks; the Are You Here Yet? Massage, perfect for jetlagged travelers who want to rejuvenate before hitting the town; and the Sole to Soul, a traditional Chinese reflexology massage that utilizes bamboo sticks to improve circulation. All massages at the Shanghai spa use products from French perfume and cosmetics house Guerlain.
  • On December 11, 2013
    Sophie Friedman answered the question: Sophie Friedman

    Does Flare Spa offer couples treatments?

    Flare Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai has two VIP spa suites in which couples can enjoy side-by-side treatments. The Ultimate treatment is an opulent three-hour package that involves a Bentley pick-up, a couple’s 60-minute four-hands massage (two therapists per person), a 90-minute Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Signature Facial for two, a bath, and champagne and caviar. For those looking for something quicker, any of Flare’s treatments can be had in its spa suites that, in addition to two beds, have their own whirlpools and rainforest showers for two. The Shanghai spa’s treatment list includes the Modern Man section, with manicure, pedicure and facial options; order the 90-minute License to Thrill package and you’ll enjoy a manicure, pedicure and shaken (never stirred) vodka martini.
  • On December 11, 2013
    Marie Bobel is now following Sophie Friedman