Contemporary allure meets traditional charm at the Mandarin Oriental Pudong in shanghai

As I enter the expansive lobby, the first thing that catches my eye is local artist Miao Tong’s unique colossal masterpiece of multi-coloured mosaic glass tiles that depicts an ancient forest scene. Sculptural reception and concierge desks appear to be carved from large blocks of beautifully patterned marble and, along with bespoke modern screens and warm colour tones, seem to be inspired by sunsets on the water. Art is not merely decorative at the Mandarin Oriental Pudong, it forms its soul and identity.

Inspired by oriental culture, the property’s 4,000 original artworks dot all the public spaces and rooms, making up what is believed to be the most extensive hotel collection of Chinese contemporary art in Shanghai. Also home to the most sumptuous Presidential Suite in town, the design landmark features extensive outdoor landscaped areas and stands out among skyscrapers in Harbour City, facing the banks of the Huangpu River and offering direct access to the Huangpu riverside promenade.
In the Riviera lobby lounge, lush seating overlooks the promenade and the hotel’s outdoor terrace and gardens. Contemporary Chinese paintings are integrated into each column here, while abstract steel plinths make for interesting platforms for sculptural pieces.

The hotel’s 318 spacious guestrooms and 44 suites designed by world-renowned architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia of Arquitectonica feature more original artworks, user-friendly technology and extensive views over the Huangpu River, the Bund and the Shanghai skyline. The interior design of the hotel’s major public areas employs a minimalist aesthetic, natural hues and contemporary materials to create a distinguishing ambience. Locally-inspired design motifs reflect the Huangpu River, Shanghai’s futuristic skyline, carved Chinese window frames and the silhouettes of Shanghai’s plane trees.
Semi-opaque materials and a soft palette enhance the sense of spaciousness and stillness, and the soft taupe furnishing on guest room floors feature indigo and lotus-green accents along with abstract ink paintings of traditional Chinese garden landscapes. Around every corner, a haven of calm envelopes you like a much-needed breath of fresh air amid a bustling commercial hub.

Chinese artist Lai De Quan, a master artist whose works have been presented to numerous world dignitaries, has created 44 porcelain artworks exclusively for the hotel, using a new technique of glaze painting directly on to traditional Jingdezhen porcelain, which he invented for his panel collection, Scenes of Jiangnan, which is on display in corridors and in the Presidential Suite. One of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world, and the largest hotel suite in Shanghai, the 788sq-m space has played host to big celebrities, including NBA player Yao Ming. The lavish accommodation includes Master Lai’s custom porcelain vases, intricately woven horsehair doors, a Steinway grand piano, and a marble-encased whirlpool overlooking the Oriental Pearl Tower – a city landmark.

A master suite with two extra bedrooms, a meeting room, dining room, kitchen, bar, wine cellar, and rooftop gardens, it crafts an unforgettable experience…especially when accompanied by visits to The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai. Designed by BUZ Design from Hong Kong, the renowned destination and undoubtedly the city’s most luxe, comprises an all-suites spa, an advanced beauty centre, a 24-hour fitness and wellness centre; a 24-hour indoor swimming pool; thermal bathing facilities, and a spa boutique. What’s more, each of its 13 exclusive single, couple and VIP Spa Suites boasts a private dressing room, en suite, steam shower and a private vitality pool overlooking the garden.

Signature journeys here include the Butterfly’s Dream, a two-hour treatment characterised by a bath infused with natural healing herbs of Chinese mulberry and night-blooming jasmine, followed by an elixir of rose body wrap, traditional moxibuxtion and a pressure point massage. The three-and-a-half-hour Silk Road ritual features an exfoliating body mask with ground lotus seeds, pepper and Chinese dates, a silk cocoon body wrap, hydrating facial, relaxing soak with star anise and sweet orange, and a tailored full-body massage.

Wrapped around a private sunken courtyard garden, the relaxing space claims the ethereal butterfly as muse. The symbol of beauty and metamorphosis in Chinese culture is artistically represented throughout every corner of the 2,415sq-m area of The Spa. The 13 suites are, in fact, named ‘butterfly’ in different languages – like Mariposa (Spanish), Kupu-Kupu (Indonesian) and Euthalia (Greek).

Materials like natural oak, raw stone and mother of pearl are cleverly complemented by sculptures and ceramic installations by Chinese artists Kang Qin, Shi Hai and Zhou Wu, the combinations of rough and lustrous making for an elegant vibe and rejuvenating ambience. It is here that one can find Beauty by Mandarin Oriental – Shanghai’s top destination for state-of-the-art, non-invasive skincare, anti-aging and slimming therapies. It offers dedicated suites equipped with advanced treatment and diagnostic technology, as well as Shanghai’s first confidential consultation for tailored skincare solutions and progress monitoring.

The highlight of The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai, however, is that it is the first luxury spa in Shanghai to fully embrace eco-sustainability. Not only are all spa products certified organic and vegan, environment-friendly initiatives are also taken in order to limit and conserve water consumption. Non-chemical based laundering practices are employed, while spa uniforms and linens are made by local eco-friendly fashion designers from organic materials, and all-natural cleaning products by Shanghai-based brand Eco & More are used and are available for purchase at the Spa Boutique.

The theme of understated luxury continues throughout the hotel, permeating its exquisitely-designed restaurants that are a gastronome’s delight. All of the gourmet spaces, including The Mandarin Cake Shop, are designed by dash design and Brandimage of New York and Hong Kong. Open kitchens allow for interactive dining experiences, while alfresco dining terraces and sunken gardens make the most of the waterfront location.

A canopy of white porcelain lanterns makes an impression at the entrance to Yong Yi Ting, which showcases local ‘Jiang Nan’ (south of the Yangtze) cuisine presented by celebrated Shanghainese chef Tony Lu. The signature Chinese restaurant has been awarded one Michelin star by the inaugural Michelin Guide 2017 for Shanghai, the first-ever Michelin Restaurant Guide in mainland China. The cuisines of Shanghai and its neighbouring provinces, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, are known for their tantalising seasonal flavours, to which Chef Lu adds an inventive modern flair. Inspired by Imperial Chinese culture, the restaurant is bedecked in glass, granite and chrome, and flaunts eight private dining rooms, some of which open directly on to a tropical courtyard.

Yong Yi Ting also hosts a chef’s table with a show kitchen for special degustation meals and cooking demonstrations. Its wine cellar offers a global selection of fine wines and a tasting table. One can even choose from 20 premium Chinese teas, including several rare varieties; and indulge in the restaurant’s popular handcrafted Jiang Nan dim sum lunch menu.

With deluxe choices at every turn, it could be difficult to leave the property, even if it is to experience the city – but one doesn’t need to wander too far. Although the river separates the hotel from Shanghai’s nightlife, it is quite close to spectacular locations like the Lujiazui Exhibition Center – a former shipyard that has been transformed into a cultural and events space, and the Metropolitan Marina Club – which offers hotel guests unique sunset yacht cruising and catered experiences on the Huangpu River.

The hotel has a unique partnership with the adjacent Aurora Museum to bring in-house guests an enriching experience of culture. If you book any suite here, you receive two complimentary admission tickets to the museum and even a drop to the art destination if required…like I did.

Evidently, everything here goes one step further – creating a level of comfort that is hard to match. Ingeniously artistic and effortlessly inspiring, Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai is a shining example of artful luxury living.

Author : Maria Louis

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