The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

PERCHED on a ban­quette in an el­e­gant 1930s-style cock­tail bar clutch­ing a Mae West’s At­ti­tude Ad­juster, I’m start­ing to won­der whether 30s Shang­hai may have been a whole lot more fun than circa 2009 Syd­ney. For the past three days I’ve been soak­ing up the vibe at Shang­hai’s new­est, and per­haps most glam­orous, ho­tel and I feel as if I’ve stepped back in time.

The Lang­ham Yangtze Bou­tique Shang­hai, orig­i­nally opened in 1934 as the Yangtze Ho­tel, has re­opened af­ter a multi-mil­lion-dol­lar re­furb and, un­like much of new Shang­hai, this art deco mas­ter­piece re­mains true to its orig­i­nal de­sign. Only to­day there’s a level of op­u­lence that even the most stylish denizens of 30s Shang­hai would have strug­gled to muster.

For starters, this bou­tique beauty — all thick vel­vets and crim­son reds with a sweep­ing stair­case pro­vid­ing a dra­matic fo­cal point in the lobby — has as its cen­tre­piece restau­rant an out­post of Hong Kong’s two-Miche­lin-starred T’Ang Court. And the food is cer­tainly no poor re­la­tion.

My room is an Art Deco Ju­nior Suite and is chic yet ridicu­lously comfortable. My bed is so big I al­most need a taxi to get from one side to the other; the bath­room is a mar­ble-clad mon­ster that is surely big enough to host one of the Yangtze Dance Hall events held in this very build­ing in the 30s and 40s.

Given the brevity of my visit here, and the vast amount of ground to be cov­ered, I’m un­able to spend any­where near as much time as I’d like lux­u­ri­at­ing in my sur­rounds. But therein lies the Lang­ham’s other big at­trac­tion: its lo­ca­tion.

Sit­u­ated in Shang­hai’s cen­tral busi­ness district, it’s just a few min­utes walk from the shop­pers’ par­adise of Nan­jing Road, Peo­ple’s Square, Expo may pro­vide not just an eco­nomic boon for Shang­hai but go some way to liv­ing up to its motto.

Laris is philo­soph­i­cal about the vast changes he has seen in the city since he moved here and those changes still to come. ‘‘ When I first got here you could have classified Shang­hai as some­what of a hard­ship post­ing,’’ he says. ‘‘ To­day it is a place you want to be. I think the changes have been for the bet­ter, al­though one may say some of the old charm has gone and a few build­ings and neigh­bour­hoods have been lost. But over­all the stan­dard of liv­ing has im­proved tremen­dously for all.

‘‘ It is al­ways a shame when a city loses an old neigh­bour­hood, but if it is rat-in­fested and fall­ing down who wants to live there any­way? The lo­cals want progress so the qual­ity and fu­ture prospects of their own lives and the lives of their chil­dren can im­prove. I feel the clean­li­ness and qual­ity of life here are on an up­wards trend. Expo is help­ing make the city a truly

New look: Lang­ham Yangtze Bou­tique Shang­hai Shang­hai Grand The­atre, the Bund, and more.

In an ur­ban land­scape where grand in­ter­na­tional ho­tels are pop­ping up at break­neck speed, the clever player in the mar­ket will set it­self apart from the rest. The Lang­ham, one of the city’s first bou­tique ho­tels, has more than achieved that here, of­fer­ing a taste of old Shang­hai while ush­er­ing in the best of the new. Michelle Rowe


Lang­ham Yangtze Bou­tique Shang­hai is of­fer­ing in­tro­duc­tory spe­cial deals, in­clud­ing De­light­ful Deco, priced from 1900 yuan ($332) a dou­ble a night, in­clud­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion, break­fast and broad­band in­ter­net ac­cess. More: www.lang­hamho­ world class place. Give it an­other six years and I think Shang­hai will be one of the great­est cities in Asia.’’ Michelle Rowe was a guest of Lang­ham Ho­tels and Qan­tas.


Qan­tas op­er­ates Syd­ney-Shang­hai A330 ser­vices daily. More: www.qan­ Leg­end: 200 Sichuan Road; +63 2 98 117. Kom­mune: The Yard, No. 7, 210 Tai Kang Rd. Shang­hai Pavil­ion by Costes Paris: House 17, Lane 181, Tai Kang Rd (Xin Tian Di). www.lang­hamho­ www.lux­u­ www.david­lar­iscre­

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