Signature checks in to… Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Traveller: Tina-Louise Jackson
Room: Fairmont Gold Room
Address: 20 Nanjing Road East, Shanghai, China, 200002
Date: June 2017
Best for: Those who appreciate the history of a hotel, yet want to be close to the action of the Bund and Shanghai’s shopping districts.
Situated just moments from the Bund, stepping through the doors of the Fairmont Peace Hotel feels like stepping back in time. With every luxury available, the hotel is steeped in history and it’s hard not to be swept away by the elegance of a bygone era.
The Signature factor
Your personal butler will pack and unpack your suitcase (my pet hate is repacking to go home), and the VIP Gold Lounge makes the admin of check-in and out a breeze and provides an even quieter place to get some work done (if you really have to).
The hotel opened in 1929 as the Cathay Hotel, and soon established itself as a favourite playground for the elite, with a history spanning more than eight decades. Thoughtfully renovated between 2007 and 2010 to retain as many original features as possible, including the distinctive copper-sheathed roof rising 77 metres into the Shanghai skyline, the Fairmont Peace Hotel combines old with new and East with West, offering 270 guestrooms and suites and six restaurants and lounges, including the legendary Jazz Bar, where the average age of the Old Jazz Band members is 82.
I arrive at 10pm on a Saturday night and the Bund is heaving. As I step through the doors I’m taken by the calming aroma (Fairmont signature aroma ‘Wood’) and Art Deco glamour of the hotel lobby and – just as the name suggests – peace and tranquillity. It’s as if I’ve stepped into a time machine and been transported back to the early 1930s, yet with every modern luxury.
My Fairmont Gold Room on the fifth floor has a separate luggage area. Elegant touches maintain the bygone era feel, with a freestanding bath alongside a shower, a writing desk, and modern touches such as a Lavazza coffee maker. An oversized bed, with oversized pillows, invites you in. I have the best night’s sleep in a long while.
The top-floor Sassoon Presidential Suite will set you back 88,000 RMB a night (approximately AU$16.5k). These were originally businessman and hotelier Sir Victor Sassoon’s (the man behind the original Cathay Hotel) private rooms, where he stayed with his wife (and nurse) some 40 years his junior. Or try one of the Nine Nations Suites, each styled after one of the nations Sir Victor was doing business with at the time. Book early; the Japanese and India suites are the most popular.
On my plate
Four restaurants ensure every whim is catered for: Dragon Phoenix overlooking the majestic Huangpu River, the only Chinese restaurant with Bund views; the Cathay Room for European cuisine; Victor’s deli for watching the world go by with a coffee and pastry alongside Nanjing Road; and the Jasmine Lounge, where breakfast and high tea is served. Don’t miss an evening at the Jazz Bar to catch the Guinness World Record holders’ nightly set – they’re the oldest Jazz Band in the world and show no signs of retiring.
I wish I could take home…
The pillows. They’re huge and oh-so comfy… I often don’t settle well when I first arrive in a new hotel, but after sinking into these pillows, only the alarm can rouse me each morning. Oh, and also the cool iPad-operated coffee machine in the Jasmine Lounge.
The Willow Stream Spa on the first floor offers 11 treatment rooms, including a couple’s room. Added as part of the renovation, it offers a range of luxurious treatments, a fully fitted gym and pool area. Try your hand at tai-chi, but remember to book ahead to arrange an instructor, which the hotel can provide.
For a slice of history, visit the Peace Museum (full of old hotel memorabilia), take a dip in the sky-lit pool or a signature massage in the Willow Stream Spa. If you need to get some work done, Wi-Fi and high-speed internet access make staying connected a breeze.
With its location right on the Bund, stepping out of the main entrance, turn left for a stroll along the Bund to take in the iconic Shanghai skyline, or right and head up Nanjing Road for some great shopping.
Too numerous to mention them all, the Fairmont Peace Hotel has won over 40 awards since its reopening in 2010.
Frequented by dignitaries from both East and West throughout the years, channel your inner Noël Coward and stay in Room 314 – it’s where he completed ‘Private Lives’. Or perhaps float like a butterfly in Room 643 where the late, great Muhammed Ali stayed, or Room 51 (now 568) where Charlie Chaplin once rested his cane.
If you’re not in a Gold Club Room, you can upgrade for 500RMB (approx $100) to enjoy full access to the ninth-floor Gold Club Lounge services including dedicated concierge service, deluxe continental breakfast, afternoon tea, hors d’œuvres and in-lounge bar service daily, complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi and enhanced turndown service.
Book ahead for a table in the Old Jazz Bar; it’s packed every night. I recommend the signature Old Fashioned to get you in the mood.
I love my coffee, and it would be great to have a more comprehensive supply of coffee pods for the in-room Lavazza coffee machine.
I could stay longer…