I was beyond excited to visit Shanghai.
Dubbed the ‘Paris of the Orient’ it’s an Asian destination that you can’t imagine and delivers new experiences around every corner.
Shanghai is a town of contrasts – French architecture alongside oriental design, crumbling buildings next to glistening sky scrapers – it’s true East meets West, modern meets ancient and totally different to any other Asian city I’ve visited.
Ten easy hours from Australia, Shanghai ticks a lot of boxes and has gone straight into my Top Five Short Break spots.
Whack it straight on your Bucket List.
Where To Stay.
I stayed at the uber-luxe Langham Xintiandi situated in one of Shanghai’s most glamourous precincts.
The hotel is walking distance to the beautiful French Concession Quarter, Taipingqiao Park and surrounded by luxury shops, cool restaurants and Shanghai’s exclusive residential district.
I arrived late at night and when I checked into my room (which was big enough to roller skate around) the curtains were drawn.
I decided to save what lay behind them for the morning and instead ordered my Number One jet lag combo -a warm wonton soup with a glass of red wine (in this case Italian).
It was perfection and works liked a charm.
After I ate and unpacked I fell into this little bit of Californian King size heaven.
When I opened the blinds on the floor to ceiling windows – two automated layers of sheer organza and block out – I found myself nestled high amongst the sky scrapers. The Langham is lovingly cut into the skyline and gives you that feeling of being part of the city without leaving your bed.
I stayed in the Langham Club Junior Suite which runs along the entire side of the building (only one per floor). It gives you a 180 degree perspective and throws the mirrored windows, smoke and sounds from the street up into your room.
Sitting and watching the world from this vantage point is a must-do in itself.
The Langham Hotels were established in 1865 and their corporate signature is this glorious pink and gold brocade which was taken from wall paper found behind the plaster walls of their landmark property in London. The pale pink and gold is used in everything they do – so, so chic.
From the amenities boxes in the bathroom to sweet treats on my pillow at night, I was surrounded by pastel pink. My favourite piece of confectionary was this pale pink chocolate hand bag filled with fluffy white meriginues.
Beyond the bed, the markers of a great hotel room are the bathroom, the mini bar and the television.
The Langham Xintiandi scores a ten in every area. There is a large working desk with 40 inch flat screen television, the bathroom is huge with a double sink, walk in closet and a a shower room which contains two types of shower heads and a bath.
You could actually live in the bathroom.
The mini bar is well stocked with both Asian and Western snacks, a Nespresso machine and a great selection of teas.
I am big on room service in the morning and there is a comprehensive menu but the Chachet Restaurant breakfast buffet is well worth a visit – think stacked waffles with maple syrup
There’s every fresh juice you can possibly imagine up for grabs in the mornings – I drank my body weight in watermelon.
A gym and spa is also a really important part of the hotel decision for me.
I prefer to run outside but sometimes weather doesn’t permit – or the city is a bit scary – so a treadmill is a must when I’m looking for a place to stay.
The gym at The Langham is brand new and the huge swimming pool comes complete with underwater sound (yep, they pump music under the water).
The hotel is famous for its Chuan Spa, a subterranean oasis where they incorporate traditional Chinese medicine into western spa treatments.
I had a body scrub, massage and finished with reflexology. It was a two hour treatment which is pushing it for me – I don’t have the patience- but it left me feeling energised and balanced.
Must, must book a massage when you’re there – click for full spa menu.
The Langham Xintiandi, 99 Madang Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai, China; Phone:+86 21 2330 2288; www.xintiandi.langhamhotels.com
What To Eat.
Good Chinese food makes the world go round and Shanghai is FULL of fabulous eating experiences.
Every single meal I had when I was there was a winner but the Yellow Fish Soup (above) I tried at a very local food joint was a true highlight.
This soup is a Shanghai speciality so I asked my driver to take me somewhere super authentic and he kindly ordered for me.
The broth is made from a two day vegetable stock, the noodles were fresh and the fish melts in your mouth.
Ask your concierge or a local in the know and track one of these down while you’re there. Life changer.
The Langham is renowned for its Chinese restaurant, T’ang Court which is similar to the hotels Michelin starred restaurant in Hong Kong.
Chef Tony Su incorporates Western elements into a predominately Cantonese menu.. We dined in one the many private rooms which can take as little as four guests – a super chic way to eat.
The meal was expansive and mind-blowingly delicious with everything from the Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai’s most famous dumpling) to Truffled Crab Soup, Peking Chicken (yep not duck and it’s better) and the award winning stir fried lobster which is cooked with three types of onion.
I made the mistake of wearing a skinny Stella McCartney pant suit (above) when really I should have worn something with an elasticised waist because you will want to ear every crumb of this insanely good meal.
Eating at Tang Court is a true experience and glamourous Shanghai must.
Lorraine and I have taken trips together before and she’s the most wonderful walking talking food encyclopaedia and the perfect companion for street food grazing.
I put myself in her trusty hands and tried a thousand different treats. For me the scary thing about street food is the ‘Will this make me sick factor” – no one wants that.
Lorraine’s advice was sage: “Take a moment, stand back and watch the locals. You want to go the busiest stall, the one where you can see all the ingredients and the one with high turnover. This generally is an indication that the food is fresh because they’re pumping it out”.
Street Food Snaps.[dmalbum path=”/wp-content/uploads/dm-albums/Street Food/”/]
The Must Do’s.
I toured the city on an vintage 750cc Changjiang motorbike and it was fabulous. It’s really the very best way to see inside the tiny winding streets that only a bike can fit down.
A half a day tour goes so quickly – you wont want it to end – and you can bespoke the tour to suit your interests. We wanted to see the city, eat some street food and visit an antique market.
Four hour tours cost 1,200RMB for the first passenger and 750RMB for the second. Two hour tours cost 900RMB for the first passenger and 500RMB for the second passenger. One hour tours cost 800RMb for one or two passengers.
To book go to www.shanghaiinsiders.com
You must, must walk through the former French Concession Quarter.
This is a lovely part of Shanghai because it feels like you’re in a little European village – even though you’re a couple of streets away from classic Asian sky scrapers.
Complete with French imported plane trees the old villas and lane houses from the 1900’s are slowly being renovated and turned into pretty shops, restaurants and homes.
A great street to shop and eat on is Luwan’s Huaihai Road – full of great finds.
This photo was taken in one of the museum houses. It’s very Fitzgerlad in Paris. Book in at chinatouronline.com
You have to shop in Shanghai. Duh.
From antique markets to luxury, every possible type of shopping experience is available.
The new Lane Crawford department store is extraordinary – this dress was a window display
Lane Crawford, Times Square, 99 Huai Hai Zhong Road, Shanghai. Tel: 400 120 1483. Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm Monday to Sunday
Then there is the kitsch.
From the Fake Market – 580 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Chengdu Bei Lu, Luwan district – to the acres and acres of blinged out Hello Kitty, you can buy great things for the kids and the kids at heart.
The Shanghai Fabric Market – 399 Lujiabang Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai – is famous for its cashmere. You can take you’re favourite sweater and have it replicated in a under a day.
There are also thousands of tweed jackets. They’re thankfully not fakes – they don’t carry any logos or replica hardware – but the tweed in China is excellent so if this style of jacket is your thing then head to markets before you do anything else and it will be ready made within 48 hours.
I always buy homewares typical of the country I’m visiting. Always.
Even if its lanterns for a kids party, I do get swept up in the culture and more often than not the colour.
I loved the markets which were full of lanterns, icons, lights and oriental fun.
Walk the city at night.
Shanghai is full of cosy bars and bustling streets. In the evening the city is lit up like a Christmas tree and twinkles like one. Walk along The Bund at night and drink it all in.
For a great list of places to eat and drink click here
Also visit a Skyscraper The Shanghai World Financial Center (or SWFC) it’s China’s tallest building and provides an unbelievable view.
Dong Tai Road Antique Market is a small double sided road, not far from Xin Tian Di.
Small in comparison to most international antique markets this chinoiserie alley is action packed with stalls and shops. It is a haggler market so make sure you negotiate on every price that they offer.
You can find all kinds of items including Mao memorabilia, blue and white porcelain, old radios and even guitars.
Here’s peak at just some of the treasures I found.
I flew to China courtesy of Shanghai Xintiandi Langham Hotel and saw sights/sounds/things that I never had before.
Xie Xie Langham Hotels for an incredible experience.