SLOW FOOD, FAST CARS Dis­cov­er­ing the spirit of Mo­de­nese car­maker Maserati through the lens of Ital­ian tra­di­tional craft.

Swire Ho­tels adds its brand of cul­tured chic to China’s most vi­brant city.

The Peak (Singapore) - - Contents - TEXT CHAR­MAINE CHAN

LISSONI IN THE HOUSE

With The Mid­dle House open­ing this year, the House Col­lec­tive gives us yet an­other fas­ci­nat­ing op­por­tu­nity to see how its de­sign ap­proach plays out across a new prop­erty. If Kengo Kuma lends a hy­per-mod­ern tra­di­tion­al­ism to The Op­po­site House in Bei­jing, and An­dre Fu in­fuses The Up­per House in Hong Kong with seam­less seren­ity, while Make Ar­chi­tects cel­e­brates Chengdu’s sto­ried ar­chi­tec­tural his­tory in The Tem­ple House, what does Piero Lissoni bring to The Mid­dle House in Shang­hai? A cul­tural clash essen­tially, min­ing rich­ness in di­ver­sity, per­fectly suited to a city that has al­ways been at the cross­roads of East and West. Hence a ho­tel de­signed along Euro­pean ideas of scale and pro­por­tion, but en­hanced by the very best of the Ori­ent – emer­ald-hued bam­boo-im­printed ce­ramic tiles in the foyer, a ki­mono in the lobby adorned with 12,000 hand­made porce­lain but­ter­flies, carved wooden lat­tice screens and “lights out” switches reimagined as thick tas­selled ropes of silk in the rooms. “The House Col­lec­tive is all about be­ing soul­fully in­di­vid­ual and we be­lieve in hav­ing each ho­tel de­signed for sea­soned trav­ellers who seek a dif­fer­ent, in­ti­mate and per­son­alised ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Dean Win­ters, group di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions at Swire Ho­tels. “Each has its own sense of style, in­spired by the dis­tinc­tive lo­ca­tion which gives each ho­tel its very own unique iden­tity, yet there’s a con­sis­tent flair that con­nects across the houses.”

STAY IN

There is no need to leave the prop­erty, with a heated 33m swim­ming pool, a spa to of­fer a wide range of re­lax­ing treat­ments, and a gym to ap­peal to

any­one who takes fit­ness se­ri­ously. World­trainer fit­ness concierges will cus­tomise work­outs for you – or, bet­ter yet, try some­thing new and run or cy­cle with a Hy­poxi ma­chine, which raises your core tem­per­a­ture and burns up to three times more fat than con­ven­tional ex­er­cise does.

VERY FINE DIN­ING

Even if you don’t stay at the ho­tel, its two in-house restau­rants are worth a visit. Chef Ste­fano Pace brings Ro­man flair to the dishes at Frasca – mak­ing his own pasta and soak­ing meat in milk for the scrump­tious pap­pardelle veal ragout, as well as pre­sent­ing the truly di­vine pinsa Ro­mana, a de­li­ciously salty, crispy al­ter­na­tive to pizza, lay­ered with strac­ciatella cheese and juicy vine-ripened toma­toes.

At the other end of the spec­trum, Shang­hainese chef Tony Ye puts to­gether a menu blend­ing the best of Can­tonese, Shang­hainese and Sichuan cuisines at Sui Tang Li. The dim sum is ex­quis­ite – hairy crab xi­ao­long­bao ex­plode in the mouth in a sym­phony of beau­ti­fully bal­anced tastes, while yel­low croaker won­tons ar­rive in a broth of full, rich, creamy flavours. “We use no dairy,” says Ye. “Only boil the fish, bones and all, into soup for hours, till it re­duces by 70 per cent. And we use live fish, straight from our own fish ponds on the ho­tel prop­erty.”

IN THE NEIGH­BOUR­HOOD

A walk­ing tour through some of the most in­ter­est­ing quar­ters in the city is avail­able with Be­spoke Travel Com­pany, which puts to­gether spe­cialised tours for dis­cern­ing vis­i­tors. Its Shang­hai guide Sam Bray­bon leads you to tucked-away art gal­leries, hid­den gar­dens and Art Deco ar­chi­tec­tural gems amid unas­sum­ing lane houses. Blend­ing his­tory, cur­rent af­fairs and cul­ture, Bray­bon gives a fas­ci­nat­ing new spin even to well-known land­marks, re­veal­ing un­known facts and in­trigu­ing char­ac­ters and mak­ing you see the city in a whole new light. Wel­come to The Up­per House, where the pub­lic spa­ces are small, and the pri­vate spa­ces are large. It’s no­table how a ho­tel with only one restau­rant, no spa, no swim­ming pool and a small lobby can still give the vis­i­tor a sense of en­velop­ing lux­ury and pam­pered calm. It might be the rooms, the largest in space-starved Hong Kong. Or the ex­tra­or­di­nary 270-de­gree views in their suites. It might be the sleek, co­he­sive in­te­ri­ors de­signed by An­dre Fu. But, most prob­a­bly, it is the out­stand­ing guest ex­pe­ri­ence that ev­ery vis­i­tor en­joys.

The ho­tel boasts 40 mem­bers in its guest ex­pe­ri­ence team, who take care of book­ings and plan­ning for guests, to the point of craft­ing and con­duct­ing a foodie tour through a spe­cific neigh­bour­hood, or even act­ing as hik­ing guide and com­pan­ion through Hong Kong’s fa­mous trails. “We broke down the job bar­ri­ers be­tween concierge and front of­fice so that each mem­ber in our team is in charge of a guest, thereby fos­ter­ing a more vi­brant re­la­tion­ship,” says di­rec­tor of guest ex­pe­ri­ence, Sab­rina Klick. “Our guests are dis­cern­ing trav­ellers who are look­ing for a re­fresh­ing break from the of­ten pre­dictable ex­pe­ri­ence. Our team is en­cour­aged to act on the spur of the mo­ment, to dare to be dif­fer­ent and have fun. This work cul­ture helps us cre­ate in­trigu­ing and per­son­able ex­pe­ri­ences for our guests.”

07 ITAL­IAN IN SHANG­HAI Piero Lissoni lends a cul­tur­ally eclec­tic touch to the House de­sign.

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