NEW LANGHAM SHANGHAI’S RETURN TO AN AGE OF ELEGANCE
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.langhamhotels.com. 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.qantas.com.au. 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.expo2010.cn www.langhamhotels.com www.luxuryconciergechina.com www.davidlariscreates.com www.cnto.org.au