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A staggering 23 million people live in Shanghai, so it's no surprise that this futuristic city is constantly reinventing itself with innovative and endless developments in the worlds of hospitality, retail, nightlife and dining.
As one of the world's foremost business hubs, we fly tens of thousands of people to Shanghai every year, and its ever-increasing reputation for being at the forefront of new developments in design, architecture and technology means there's always an overwhelming choice of places to stay. From the hi-tech to the traditional, here's a selection of five of our favourites...
Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel
Right in the heart of Pudong, the luxury Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel opened in 2011 and has rapidly become a business traveller's favourite. The hotel is part of the landmark Himalayas Centre, a swish new arts hub and cultural centre which includes a luxury mall, art museum, a 1,100-seat theatre and vast open-air event venues. The whole complex was designed by visionary Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and has direct underground access to the Shanghai New International Expo Centre which lies opposite.
Inside are 401 Chinese-style contemporary bedrooms, suites and residences inspired by traditional Chinese feng shui design, featuring modern artworks, hardwood floors, pale linens and dark wooden furnishings. All four of the hotel's restaurants are award-winning, but for exquisite and authentic Shanghai fare don't miss Shang-High Cuisine, 2012 winner of Time Out Shanghai's best Chinese restaurant. In addition to the extensive meeting and conference facilities, the hotel's rooftop features a 5,000 sq metre Infinity Garden for weddings and other outdoor events, and a luxury Talise Spa is set to open later this year.
The hotel is directly connected to Shanghai's metro system and just a short walk from the Maglev station which will take you to and from Pudong International Airport in just seven minutes.
Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel, No. 1108 Mei Hua Road, Pudong, Shanghai 201204
The first thing boutique URBN Hotel wants you to know is that it is China's first carbon-neutral hotel, with sustainability at the core of every design and day-to-day decision it makes. URBN backs up these claims with energy-efficient technologies and the use of recycled and reclaimed materials, all of which results in a simple, soulful aesthetic which is still pleasingly sleek and minimalist.
If you opt to stay here, you'll be right in the middle of downtown, just a couple of blocks from hectic Nanjing Road and close to the French Concession. Rooms range from elegant studios with kingsize beds and sunken baths, to larger rooms overlooking the garden and three-storey atrium, as well as an oversized penthouse and courtyard suite. Organic facials and massages can be organised in-room, and a full-scale wellness centre with gym, yoga and tai chi is next door. And if all this is making you feel a bit too worthy, head upstairs to Upstairs, the rooftop champagne bar or down to The Social, a cocktail bar with a darker, more decadent edge.
URBN Hotel, 183 Jiaozhou Lu, Shanghai 200040
The antithesis of URBN in terms of decor and design, Shanghai's stately Mansion Hotel occupies a restored 1930s heritage property which effortlessly captures the atmosphere of long-since vanished Old Shanghai. The grand colonial ambience fills all the public spaces, from the rooftop restaurant and terrace with unparalleled views over the city skyline, to the antique-filled lobby lounge scattered with plush velvet club chairs and chaise longues in sumptuous reds and jade greens.
Along with both a Western and a gourmet Chinese seafood restaurant, there are seven luxury function rooms for private dining or business events, plus 30 individually-designed, 14 foot high-ceilinged guestrooms featuring enormous beds, armchairs, ottomans and writing desks, and marble bathrooms with two-person jacuzzi tubs and high pressure showers.
This important historical French Concession building was originally designed by French architect Lafayette in 1932, and as the former residence of a partner of Shanghai's notorious syndicate boss Du Yue Sheng, it was the centre of many illegitimate business operations and extravagant parties. The shady dealings may now belong to a distant bygone era, but this is still the place to come for a taste of old-school Shanghai.
Mansion Hotel, 82 Xin Le Road, Shanghai
The PuLi Hotel and Spa
Perfect for city-breakers and business travellers alike, the cutting-edge PuLi Hotel and Spa offers a real retreat-like atmosphere despite being located right in the heart of the city, between Nanjing West and Yan'An roads and overlooking the Jing' An Temple. The overall look and feel is one of contemporary urban luxury cloaked in a relaxing palette of pale creams and dark woods, with every carefully chosen fixture and fitting given the space to make its own statement.
193 super-stylish guestrooms and 36 suites are spread across the PuLi's 26 floors, all of which come with a lounging area, Bose music system with iPod docking station, high-speed wireless, Nespresso machine, rainforest shower and bathtubs overlooking the Shanghai skyline. If you can tear yourself away, the 32-metre Long Bar is one of Shanghai's hottest nighttime venues, with the 'longest' wine and champagne selections by the glass in the city.
The PuLi Hotel and Spa, 1 ChangDe Road, JingAn District, Shanghai 200040
Le Sun Chine
For a more classic take on the city book a room at Le Sun Chine; a British colonial garden-style house built in the early nineteenth century in Renaissance style and renovated in 1916 as a model foreign garden. Previously known as Fan Yuan, the house has been occupied over the years by a number of famous stars and artists, and it was registered as one of Shanghai's Excellent Historical Buildings in 2005.
Fast forward to the 21st century and the house is now an elegant and intriguing property of immense architectural importance, with balconies, high ceilings, columns and rotating overhead fans guarding rooms filled with exquisite antiques, textiles and wallhangings, all perfectly capturing the heyday of 1930s Shanghai.
For the ultimate in graceful opulence, take a dip in the gloriously over-the-top pool with its wisteria-frescoed ceiling (recipient of China's best designed swimming pool award), or book a table at the art-inspired Shanghainese restaurant Lilac.
Le Sun Chine Hotel, Lane 1220, Huashan Rd, Shanghai Virgin Atlantic operates flights to Shanghai from London Heathrow.
Header shot of Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel © Jumeirah International LLC
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds. She writes on her own site at Untraveller.com.