By Phoowadon Duangmee
In Shanghai late last month for the Audemars Piquet’s art event, I check into The Peninsula Shanghai on Zhongshan Road looking forward to a few days of pampering.
The Peninsula is one of the best hotels in The Bund , Shanghai’s historic and financial district, and has a reputation for being a luxury destination in itself. So I was somewhat disappointed to find the service in Shanghai below par. Thai visitors, especially those accustomed to the extravagant comforts offered by hotels in the same class in Bangkok, will find The Peninsula Shanghai a bit hit and miss.
The Peninsula Shanghai is on the northern flank of The Bund. Standing next to the British Consulate, it’s within easy walking distance of The Bund riverfront promenade and 10 minutes on foot from a metro station. The new financial district, with its famous Shanghai Tower, is across the Huangpu River. From Room 505 I get a nice view of the park. Beyond the smaller Suzhou creek and the Waibaidu Bridge. I can see the Russian flag on the top of the dome marking the territory of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Shanghai.
I like my room a lot. I like it here at The Peninsula Shanghai more than I did at The Langham Shanghai. First, The Langham seemed determined to address me as Mrs Lee. Secondly, I like the design of The Peninsula. The architect has paid attention to even the smallest details and it shows.
Room 505 is a Deluxe Garden Room, taking its name from the soothing green vista of trees looking towards the historic Waibaidu bridge, an iconic feature of old Shanghai. In tones of celadon green or cerulean blue and ivory, the interior design incorporates a number of traditional materials used in Shanghai in the 1920s – the rich figures of mahogany and ebony for the loose furniture and millwork, and the dramatic contrasts of black Noir St Laurent and off-white St Talino stones.
The king bed is comfortable, dressed with soft sheets and plenty of down pillows and there’s a bottle of complimentary water by the bedside. The sizeable working station, with power outlets and Internet connector, stands by the window. The minibar is stocked with soft and hard drinks (gin, wine and whiskey) and the electronic control pad let you adjust everything from lights to curtains and temperature.
The bathroom is spacious with white glossy walls and floors. It has a single basin, tidy shower and toilet and a huge bathtub. The roomy dressing room is opposite the bathroom and is home to a spacious deposit box with special trays for your wristwatch, jewellery and laptop computer. Hair-dryer, umbrella, shoehorn and clothes hangers are all part of the standard package. There’s even a nail-dryer for ladies in a rush.
The Peninsula gives you a comfortable experience in your room. It is no doubt the best bed in The Bund.
But here’s the downside. We don’t like its breakfast.
The Peninsula Shanghai gives a great deal of space over to its dining venue. Boasting a high ceiling with huge classic columns and two oversized abstract murals, The Lobby is used for all-day dining. The hotel serves an a la carte breakfast with eggs Benedict, fluffy omelettes and hams as well as a Japanese breakfast set. But while this sounds exclusive and luxurious, many visitors, Thais among them, prefer their breakfast buffet style so they can tuck into noodle soup, smoky strips of bacon and runny eggs. That said, the Japanese breakfast set with pan-fried salmon, miso soup, steamed rice and pickled veg is delicious. But at CNY200 (Bt1,030), surely it wouldn’t be too much to offer a greater choice?
The Peninsula Shanghai is also too short on public areas where guests can wait or meet with friends and colleagues. Instead the hotel lets its guests stand or wander around aimlessly while waiting for their pickups. China is big and its services should be too.
On the bottom line, The Peninsula Shanghai is fascinating. The location is desirable thanks to The Bund and the heritage buildings. The service is so and so though admittedly that’s because we Thais are spoiled by the luxury hotels back home.
AT A GLANCE
High points: Luxury property in Shanghai’s heritage district of The Bund
Low point: The service doesn’t match the luxury property.
Pay for it: Deluxe Garden Room is about CNY3,000 per night. For the best deal visit the website.
Find it: The northern part of The Bund, Shanghai
Call it: (+86 21) 2327 2888
Browse it: Shanghai.peninsula.com