The Peninsula Shanghai is one of the city’s grand dames, hugging the northern end of the Bund. The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel offers a flawless experience from the moment you step into its opulent, art-deco-style lobby.
The glamorous stay entices with its afternoon tea, restaurant terrace with knockout skyline view and plush rooms, so choosing five things we love about the Shanghai hotel is a breeze.
It’s a toss-up as to what’s better at The Peninsula Shanghai’s Four-Star Sir Elly’s Restaurant: the uninterrupted panorama of the city’s glittering cityscape or the food.
Visitors and Shanghai denizens out for special occasions tuck into modern European fare from chef de cuisine Charles Benoit Lacour and executive pastry chef Lucien Gautier. Highlights here include truffle-stuffed smoked frog leg with Sichuan pepper spearmint jelly and raspberry ice cream with single-origin milk chocolate and sea salt chocolate crumble.
If a full-on dinner feels like a bit much, come in for lunch or stop by for drinks and snacks on the terrace, which has the best view of all.
While Sir Elly’s is the hotel’s signature fine-dining restaurant, its Cantonese venue, the art-deco-inspired Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Yi Long Court, does a mean dim sum, with families packing in every weekend for abalone and pork shu mai, and delicate steamed scallop dumplings.
During Shanghai’s Golden Age, the Bund was the place to see and be seen for teas, lawn parties and evenings out. As an homage, The Peninsula serves a 1930s-inspired afternoon tea in the elegant lobby, with its soaring columns and white-coffered ceiling. A classic service is also offered in events space No. 1 Waitanyuan, an 1873 Renaissance Revival building with beautiful gardens that formerly served as the British Consulate.
Take your tea in the lobby to bask in the sounds of The Lobby Strings group and the light clink of celadon-rimmed china filled with pu-er, jasmine and Earl Grey. On the tiered stand are buttery scones with clotted cream, lemon curd and housemade strawberry jam, and savories like smoked salmon with ricotta tea sandwiches.
The lobby is airy and warm, but on sunny days, the umbrella-clad garden tables at No. 1 Waitanyuan’s Balfour Terrace are a treat. Be sure to book ahead for this delight.
Most of The Peninsula Shanghai is a modern building, but its architects designed it to reflect the city’s historic art deco style. The hotel’s interior is an impeccable throwback to 1920s and ’30s Shanghai.
Modern influences are everywhere: the frame-bordered mirrors; the lovely lamps and light fixtures in the rooms and public spaces; the coffered ceilings; the chinoiserie-inspired wall panels and carpet motifs; and the pretty black doors emblazoned with carved gold birds, magnolias and butterflies that part to reveal the TV.
When you stay on the Bund, you’re doing so for vistas of the skyline across the river in Lujiazui, the city’s financial district. From Sir Elly’s and many of the rooms at The Peninsula, the magenta orbs of Oriental Pearl Tower, the 88-floor Jin Mao Tower, the bottle-opener-like top of Shanghai World Financial Center, and the smooth curves of Shanghai Tower look close enough to touch.
And if your room doesn’t have a skyline view, Sir Elly’s 13th-floor terrace awaits. Be sure to go before 10:30 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends so you can see Pudong skyscrapers’ lights before they’re turned off for the night.
The Peninsula Academy
Take a deeper dive into Shanghai’s colorful past with locally inspired tours and activities on offer from The Peninsula.
From a walk-through of the Shanghai Auto Museum led by its curator to a visit to rising Shanghainese fashion designer Lu Kun’s studio and a guided viewing of the city’s top galleries (as well as the hotel’s own art collection), there’s an experience to pique every interest.
For kids six to 12 — sorry, grown-ups — there’s even a delightful chocolate-making class, in which tiny travelers learn how to make their own chocolates before devouring the results.