Modern luxury in downtown Shanghai
422 Rooms / 78 Suites
Since opening in 2002, Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai largely catered to a business clientele who wanted to stay downtown but not directly on a major tourist thoroughfare. These days, though, the hotel also caters more to family groups, particularly those who want to be near Shanghai Disney and those who value the hotel’s downtown Puxi location as a jumping-off point to experience other Shanghai highlights, such as Yu Garden.
What makes this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel’s location uniquely special is that it’s one of only a few high-rise buildings (it tops out at 37 floors) in the vicinity, giving it a prime view of the surrounding low-rise residential neighborhoods.
The hotel recently underwent a major revamp, with refreshed guest rooms, lobby, ballroom and restaurants, too — it looks every bit the modern luxury hotel that this vibrant, historic city deserves. Grand and spacious, the stylish new lobby manages to feel both contemporary and classic with marble columns, crystal chandeliers and neo-classical architecture.
The new-look guest rooms offer a more contemporary design and the renovations included replacing carpeting with dark wood flooring, swapping bathroom mirrors with larger versions, and implementing a modernist white, gray and chocolate color scheme.
Not all the rooms have been renovated, as, some longtime visitors prefer the classic autumnal décor of the old-style accommodations, which means the hotel has no plans to redo the remaining units.
Regardless of which room you book, expect high-end appointments like down-filled duvets and pillows, yukatas (kimono-type bathrobes), Roja Dove bath amenities and iHome docking stations. Rooms on the 37th floor have both access to the Executive Club Lounge and picturesque views of downtown Shanghai and beyond.
The Presidential Suite combines an interesting array of Chinese antiques and artworks, including both European-style Impressionist paintings and framed black-and-white photographs of the Shanghai of yesteryear, including nearby landmarks such as Yu Garden and Nanjing Road.
Other luxe amenities include a white baby grand piano in the living room, panoramic views, a marble-clad bathroom and a full kitchen.
Four Seasons Shanghai makes it a bit easier to dive into this fabled city’s past and present. For example, the luxury hotel has partnered with renowned local photographer and historian Gang Feng Wang to offer half-day excursions to the shikumen neighborhood next to the hotel.
Shanghai’s shikumen — the term translates to “stone gate” — are unique to the city and refer to an architectural style that combines Western architectural traditional with old-style Chinese courtyard homes. It first appeared in the 1860s with the arrival of Shanghai’s very first wave of foreign residents.
And as the city rushes to modernize, gleaming skyscrapers have quickly replaced the tangled laneways of shikumen. The traditional neighborhoods have become something of a rarity.
Guests are also encouraged to get professional photo tips from Wang and create their own photographic mementos of Shanghai’s disappearing shikumen culture.
A visit to the spa is a special experience, too, as it incorporates ancient Chinese healing and medicinal methods into its treatments.
The Shanghai hotel has four restaurants, plus a lobby lounge and coffee bar. Si Ji Xuan is a popular, celebrated place for traditional Cantonese cuisine; Steak House is an American-style spot serving impressive imported meats; Shintaro is a low-key Japanese restaurant great for sushi; and casual Café Studio is an all-day option for those wanting a wide range of international fare.