A NIGHT AT...
THE MIDDLE HOUSE, SHANGHAI
Asea of connected red-brick rooftops, Dazhongli is one of the oldest and best-preserved clusters of Shikumen, or lane houses, in Shanghai. A maze of narrow alleys and courtyards murmuring with neighbourhood gossip, it’s a throwback to a time when this residential quarter was still an enigma, closed off from the world. The Chinese communist leader Deng Xiaoping’s decision to re-open China’s doors to the influence of the West in the late-’70s led to a period of rapid modernisation in Shanghai. Economic growth was followed by the development of the Jing’an financial district (Dazhongli’s immediate neighbour), introducing the towering skyscrapers that now surround what’s left of the historic quarter. From this rich history arrives one of the area’s newest highrisers, the recently opened Middle House Shanghai. A seductive addition to Swire Hotels’ House Collective family, The Middle House draws on the philosophy of its Beijing, Chengdu and Hong Kong counterparts, while adding touches of Italian influence courtesy of architect Piero Lissoni. Best known for his work with brands Illy, Audi and Kartell, Lissoni brought together classical Shanghainese architecture with his signature style of clean minimalist details. The experience begins with a dramatic entrance: a stunning six-metre-high chandelier consisting of 3760 pieces of glass sits above dark floors, with rugged pieces of furniture and walls filled with art by Caroline Cheng and Lindy Lee. Donned with custom reinterpretations of traditional furnishings, the rooms are sheathed in a palette of bronze mesh brightened by floor-to-ceiling windows that highlight Shanghai’s Blade Runner- like landscape. Chinese design elements abound in the form of slender pendant lights and hand-made ceramic tiles that float off those same dark-stained floors, while subtle notes like mismatched lamps and pull-down light cords offer a sense of unique charm. Like the interior, the food on offer is a thoughtful balance of old and new. New York-based chef Gray Kunz has brought his renowned Café Gray Deluxe to the third floor of the hotel with dishes inspired by the hotel’s Hong Kong location. In addition to Café Gray, the hotel has two other restaurants located in the residential tower: Frasca, a modern Italian eatery where passionate Australian-born chef Stefano Pace plates up authentic dishes made with ingredients sourced fresh from local family farms (the prosciutto pizza is a must-try); and Sui Tang Li, which offers an extraordinary selection of Chinese delicacies that put every dumpling we’ve ever eaten to shame. If you find the strength to actually leave the hotel, bike tours are the way to go for a truly eye-opening experience of the city. From tackling the narrow lanes in the peaceful Former French Concession to discovering hidden villas from the ’20s, it’s as close to time travel as you’ll get. Rooms from approx. $500 per night; themiddlehousehotel.com
OPPOSITE Designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni, the sleek Middle House exterior stands out among the surrounding highrisers in Dazhongli.
ABOVE Upon entering the Middle House, guests are wowed by a chandelier which took Italian glass master Fabiano Zanchi six months to create .
ABOVE Ranging from 50m 2 to a palatial 660m 2 for the Penthouse, there's a total of 111 rooms and 102 serviced apartments.