This elegant city hotel wows with refined spaces worthy of the in-the-vogue hub that is the contemporary Shanghai. The Mandarin Oriental Pudong mirrors the city in an edgy balance between the showy and the restrained.
We flew to Shanghai from Lijiang, and it felt as if we traversed not just space but time. We’d took off in the distant past and landed in the future.
The Mandarin Oriental Pudong channelled this sentiment… except in the reverse order. Almost futuristic on the first impression, soon the hotel reveals that its elegance has roots in the heritage of the old China.
Harmony in contrasts
As we entered the building, we had to take a moment, just to appreciate the lobby. This great space is dominated by art features, the most remarkable of which is the wall of coloured glass mosaic, arranged in a quasi-abstract fashion symbolising a forest. Soaring above the marble floor are also the massive chandeliers, filling the lobby’s upper cavities with circular geometric lights. It’s designed to impress.
Soon we discovered that there is, in the hotel’s design, a deliberate tension between the showy and the subdued. This adds drama to the interiors and presents a fine lesson in how designers can wow with restraint. It’s the kind of sophisticated sensitivity that becomes almost a feature on its own at the Mandarin Oriental Pudong.
The interiors in the Spa may shimmer with gold, but they are never gaudy. The gleaming tone adds a touch of luxury, but only in the background. Similarly, the restaurants may feature contemporary art but the pieces never compete with the delightful culinary experiences.
Then there are the contrasts. To enter the light-filled Yong Yi Ting restaurant one must go through a moody wine bar space, where the deep reds and dark wood is overlooked by the spectacular ceiling filled with dozens of lamps, arranged in an artistic composition. The mood shifts dramatically between spaces and interiors.
Guest Rooms and Club Lounge
Works of Chinese art, of museum quality, are scattered across the hotel, including in the guest rooms and suites. These are the most conservative-looking, which is not surprising — after all the rooms should appeal to a broad range of tastes. But the interiors here are no less refined than in the rest of the hotel. They are done-up in sophisticated shades of molten gold and dark wood, with plush carpets, sleek surfaces and high-quality finishes. Everything oozes contemporary luxury.
Many suites, including our Club Mandarin River View Room, have sweeping Huangpu River and city views through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The “Club” class comes with a bunch of benefits, including access to the luxurious Club Lounge — we loved this one.
The Lounge is beautifully designed, but moreover, it allows splurging on all-day drinking and dining. We had to kill one afternoon, awaiting our late departure, and this gave us the perfect excuse to kick our feet here and chill with a full plate and drinks, surrounded by pillows and books.
The Mandarin Oriental Pudong was our last stop — and chilling out in the exclusive lounge seemed like the perfect way to wrap up the China trip.