Shanghai is truly a city for the senses! I’m embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t terribly fond of it after my first time visiting in 2017. But let this be a lesson in travel that who you venture with and how, as well as the time of year you visit, can make or break your impression of a destination. I’m so grateful I got to go back with my Ritz-Carlton family for the Luxury GM Summit to experience Shanghai under very different circumstances this past March. I’m even more thrilled to share just how much it changed my impression of the city and how highly I would recommend visiting!
What to Pack:
- My first time visiting Shanghai was in the heat of summer (and I mean inferno) which made it pretty difficult to tour around and enjoy the city. When I returned in March of this year with the Ritz-Carlton, however, it was the perfect spring temperature. I could get around comfortably in a sweater and skirt or sleeved dress and flats. But by night it was time to dress up in your finest. There is no denying that Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city where men and women alike dress to see and be seen.
Where to Stay:
- The St. Regis Shanghai Jingan: I personally stayed here and absolutely loved it! My room had an incredible wrap-around view of the city and Butler Service. Everyone I dealt with was gracious and more than accommodating. The hotel is also centrally located and I could walk to the big Starbucks Reserve in less than 1o mins.
- The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong: Truly a beacon of luxury and one of the most iconic properties in the whole city. Flair, their rooftop bar, has undoubtedly the greatest view of Pearl Tower and the bund.
- The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai: located just around the corner from the St. Regis and also the home to my dear friend Connie, Assistant Director of Marketing Communications, and my Shanghai fairy godmother.
- The Shanghai EDITION: super chic and eclectic, which has become synonymous with the brand. Went there for drinks and light bites and loved the cosmopolitan vibe.
- Bvlgari Hotel Shanghai: every bit as luxurious and show-stopping as you might expect it to be. Loved painting live here from the view of the bund on my last night in the city!
What to See:
- Yu Garden: beautiful and tranquil botanical garden located beside the City of God temple in the Old City of Shanghai.
- Culinary Walk: there is perhaps no greater way to experience this city than eating your way through the streets of Shanghai.
- Chinese Painting Class: Zhong Shan Xi Road Tea House offers paper cutting, tea tasting, and Chinese painting classes with local experts for an amazing introduction to the traditions of the culture.
- River Cruise: a must-do and by night at that! It is incredible to experience the modern skyline contrasted by the french concession on the opposite side of the river.
- The Bund: you should see it both by day and by night. It’s as if they are two different cities. No city skyline is quite as spectacular as Shanghai’s.
Where to Eat:
- Ultraviolet: Shanghai’s only three-Michelin-star restaurant, multi-sensory feast.
- Ar Mei Dumplings: truly a little hole in the wall, authentic dumpling experience. Try the Chinese soy sauce eggs for a tangy kick.
- Lost Heaven: fusion of Thai, Lao, Burmese, and Chinese cuisine in an enchanting venue of folk-inspired decor.
Where to Shop:
- Tianzifang: small boutiques, local crafts and art galleries.
- Xintiandi: luxury shopping, fashion, and entertainment neighborhood.
- K11: contemporary art mall, selling local designers and international brands.
- Fuzhou Road: super cool art supply market, selling gorgeous chinese paper and enormous calligraphy brushes.
Where to Play:
- Flair Rooftop: as I mentioned above, located at the Ritz-Carlton, Pudong and truly one of the most spectacular views of the city. It was the first place I visited on both of my trips to Shanghai and always the most memorable.
- Middle House: a calm and sophisticated oasis from the electrifying city. Perfect for a cocktail or two before heading out into the night.
- V-Show Karaoke: I didn’t get to go personally but they have Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel themed rooms so I’m fairly certain you can’t go wrong there!
What to See Outside the City:
- Anji Bamboo Forest: about 4.5 hrs drive from Shanghai, it offers the perfect weekend escape from the city to hike, enjoy the tea gardens, and explore the town of Anji.