- Horizon-level guests get free lounge access, meeting rooms, suit pressing
- Free wired and wireless Internet throughout the hotel
- The breakfast buffet spans an entire floor of the Grand Tower
- The CHI Spa tea bath ritual was less than relaxing
- Book a Rolls-Royce airport transfer to arrive in style
The 952-room Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai hotel mixes business with pure class in one of the world's major corporate and financial hubs.
Split across two separate buildings, you'll find 550 rooms and 27 suites in the classically elegant River Wing, plus 339 rooms and 36 suites in the modern and opulent Grand Tower.
The monstrous property has all of the creature comforts that business and executive travellers expect, including adequate in-room working space, a Horizon Club lounge with meeting rooms, a range of restaurants and a 24/7 gymnasium for staying fit on the road.
A little free time could also see travellers enjoying the indoor swimming pool, a massage at CHI Spa or even a Chinese cooking class amidst the usual roster of sightseeing.
Whether you're travelling for business or leisure, join Australian Business Traveller as we discover what you'll find at one of Shanghai's top high-end hotels...
Location & Impressions
From Shanghai's Pudong Airport, it's roughly 45 minutes by car – and if you'd like to really arrive in style, the hotel can arrange a Rolls-Royce transfer for ¥4,500 each way (around A$790).
The lavish ride boasts its own wireless network, which we found to be more than adequate for sending emails, Apple iMessages and general web browsing.
Diamond members of Shangri-La's Golden Circle loyalty program and guests in Horizon Tower rooms can then skip the usual lobby check-in formalities – instead being taken straight to their suite for a private in-room check-in over Chinese tea.
Amidst Shanghai's Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone, business travellers can settle in and then walk to the headquarters of China's major banks and the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
For those with a little time to spare, the hotel is also close to the Huangpu River, the Super Brand Mall and opposite the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower – which makes quite the working backdrop in selected Horizon Premier: Grand Tower suites (pictured).
With separate living, working, sleeping and closet space, Horizon Premier Bund View: Grand Tower rooms could easily pass for junior suites.
They also have quite a homely feel, with guests' initials embroidered onto the pillowcases:
(If you're travelling with a partner, you can advise the hotel which initials belong on which pillow.)
A walk-in wardrobe adjoins the marble-clad bathroom and can be closed off from the main living area – perfect if you can't decide what to wear.
Speaking of hotel bathrooms, this one doesn't disappoint with double basins, L'Occitane amenities, a closed-off lavatory and bidet, an adjustable shaving mirror and a separate shower and bathtub – complete with a TV.
A bath salt menu is also available by request, while fluffy bathrobes and a real hairdryer complete the bathroom fit-out.
If you'd rather be seated while styling your hair, you'll find another mirror in the main room – along with a power point for hair straighteners and curlers and a hanging rack for your garments:
To kick start the day, wake-up calls come with a barista coffee of your choosing – or if you'd prefer to make your own cuppa, an in-room Nespresso machine lets you choose your brew with both regular and decaf pods.
Once you're up and running, there's a well-lit working space with a phone, desk-level power points, free high-speed cable and wireless Internet, a calendar, office stationery and a fax machine.
When you're finished for the day, binoculars and a skyline map help you take in and appreciate the Bund view through the room's floor-to-ceiling windows...
... which gets more spectacular by the evening:
As you'd expect from a five-star hotel, the room also comes well-appointed with an iron and ironing board, a music dock with great 'low end' and a safe with an internal power point that's large enough to house a 15" laptop.
From the minibar is a choice of wine, beer (including Tsingtao), spirits, soft drinks, juice and a cocktail shaker if you feel a little creative, along with chocolates, nibbles, Dilmah tea and free bottled water plus the Evian and Perrier brands.
All up, it has everything we look for in a great hotel room for the business traveller.
As the name suggests, 'Horizon' rooms and suites come with access to The Horizon Club lounge – also available to Diamond-level Golden Circle members regardless of the room booked or received.
Inside, you'll find various spaces for working, dining and relaxing, free Wi-Fi and concierge staff who can assist with basic English/Chinese language translations if required.
The dining tables are at a great height for laptop work, and the staff proactively offered coffee and to remove the tablecloth and place settings, making the space feel more 'office-like':
Need juice for your laptop or smartphone? Power points are scattered along the walls, while travellers without their own gadgets can use both PCs and Apple iMac computers.
Horizon floor guests are also offered a free suit pressing on arrival at the hotel, plus free shoe shines throughout their stay.
That's great if you're in town for an important business meeting – which you could also hold in one of the hotel's meeting rooms, offered free to Horizon guests for two hours each day.
Printing, binding, faxing and photocopying services are available to all hotel guests in a separate business centre, which also has computer terminals and free wireless Internet.
Adding to the list of perks for Horizon floor guests and Golden Circle Diamond members is a choice of breakfast either in Yi Café or in The Horizon Club.
Given that Yi Café spans an entire floor of the hotel and has private dining rooms, it's the obvious choice if you have a little time to spare – plus, it's free for lower-tier Golden Circle Jade guests staying in-house too.
With cuisine from nine nations spread across 11 different serving areas, you'll find everything from the basic cereals, pastries and fruits through to seafood, cooked-to-order noodles and omelettes, salads, dumplings, and even roast meats and eggs boiled for either three, five or eight minutes:
In fact, the space is so large that the stations are colour-coded to help you get your bearings – seafood is blue, salad is green, pastries are off-white and so on...
Most importantly, chocolate and pistachio fountains are under the yellow bauble... (There's dessert in between breakfast and brunch, isn't there?)
Upstairs in The Horizon Club, the choices are fewer, but it's much quieter...
A limited range of hot dishes are also available for brekky, and during the day you'll find snacks such as cakes, slices and macarons.
For lunch and dinner, a Chinese culinary experience awaits in Gui Hua Lou, where we'd strongly recommend the steamed 'Har Kau' prawn dumplings:
You'll also find French cuisine at Jade on 36, Japanese fine dining at Nadaman, elegant Cantonese fare at Seventh Son and sushi made before your eyes at the 32-seat Sushi by Nadaman.
When you can spare an hour or two to really wind down, the on-site CHI Spa has a range of treatments from the quick and basic through to a 100-minute 'Jade Journey' pampering session.
Beginning with a half-hour tea bath ritual, Jade Journey moves on to a full body massage that incorporates traditional Chinese techniques to focus on the meridian channels, which is said to release blocked 'chi' energy.
While the massage itself was excellent, there wasn't much attention to detail when it came to the tea bath... it's drawn before you arrive, and even then, the water was far too hot to endure.
Due to the sheer size of the tub, most of the allocated bath time was spent adjusting it to a more tolerable temperature – and by the time it was fixed up, it wasn't long before the tea bath was over and the massage therapist returned.
Sure, that's a 'First World problem' if there ever was one, but if you're time-poor and paying upwards of A$350 for the relaxing time-out, having to stand aside the bath 'fixing' things doesn't make for a great start to the experience.
Helping you celebrate your latest gain on the share market, Horizon Club guests enjoy free alcoholic drinks all day in the lounge. But if it's a better nightlife atmosphere that you seek, there's a greater selection of spirits and wines – plus sommelier service – up at Jade on 36:
To unwind on your own schedule, the 25m indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna have things more than covered – or step outside to the tennis court, complete with floodlights for evening play.
The hotel's tennis and swimming coaches can help work on your forehand or backstroke, while personal trainers are on tap in the hotel's sizeable 24-hour health club.
It's packed with modern equipment, but we'd actually recommend hiring a push bike and going for a cycle around the local area if you're pressed for sightseeing time (and the pollution level permits) – you'll take in far more than by watching TV on an elliptical machine...
Frequent travellers may be familiar with James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon, which inspired and provided the namesake for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.
You'll find it beside the bed, and while the CHI Spa experience wasn't perfect during our visit, the hotel is otherwise the closest thing we've seen to the utopian society described within its pages...
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Shanghai and stayed as a guest of Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts and the Pudong Shangri-La hotel.