Capella Shang­hai, Jian Ye Li

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Hidden in a charm­ing cor­ner of the city’s for­mer French Con­ces­sion, Capella Shang­hai trans­forms one of the largest re­main­ing pock­ets of tra­di­tional shiku­men laneways into a ro­man­tic all-villa ur­ban re­sort. Built in the 1930s by French set­tlers, the es­tate orig­i­nally com­prised 200 two-story houses con­nected by nar­row red-brick al­ley­ways and lush in­ner court­yards. It’s now home to just 55 vil­las and 40 pri­vate res­i­dences, and the once-bustling al­leys are a tran­quil guest-only re­treat adorned with climb­ing roses and bronze sculp­tures. Each one- to four-bed­room villa comes with liv­ing and en­ter­tain­ment rooms, bed­rooms, mar­ble bath­rooms, and a rooftop ter­race, all con­nected by a steep stair­well as per the orig­i­nal lay­out. In­te­ri­ors by the late Jaya Ibrahim (this was his fi­nal pro­ject) are a fresh up­date on 1930s French-chi­nois­erie so­phis­ti­ca­tion in warm golden tones, with lofty ceil­ings and tra­di­tional red wood­framed win­dows en­hanc­ing the sense of her­itage in­dul­gence. Then there’s le Comp­toir de Pierre Gag­naire, which serves exquisitely con­sid­ered yet re­fresh­ingly sim­ple French cui­sine. Like Capella Shang­hai it­self, it’s proof that clas­sic ele­gance never goes out of style. — 86-21/5466-6688; www.capel­lashang­; vil­las from US$687

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