Each time you step into a hotel, there are expectations. No one enters their interim home in a foreign land without hopes of finding a promising refuge or even fear that it might fall short. It’s only natural. So imagine the anticipation arriving at one of the latest properties among the distinguished Edition hotels, in the biggest city in China. Will it match, or exceed, the burning enthusiasm that guests customarily mask as casual interest?
Well, for starters, how does a decadent lobby, a stunning rooftop lounge and an intimate bar sound? Great? Now double that. Shanghai Edition occupies what used to be the headquarters of Shanghai Electric Power Company, dividing its space between two towers. It is this unique construct which allows you a more dedicated and expanded hotel experience. I almost see it as ambidexterity.
In the taller tower you have the classics of an esteemed hotel name. Rooms effortlessly marry cool marble surfaces with custom furnishings, but it’s the warm wood finishes that evoke a personal touch. There are the serene indoor pools with lofty windows letting in a gratifying amount of light. Then perched right up top are three floors, intertwined by an artful spiral staircase, where you can settle into a meal and choice of poison.
The adjacent tower is where the party happens. The right brain where creativity flows. Here is where time management comes into play. Should you first indulge in a spa experience so ethereal you forget you’re in a hotel or catch a film at the mini-cinema? Perhaps belt out some tunes in the karaoke room or get into a game of snooker?
Surely you must replenish on modern Cantonese cuisine before rounding up your night in the nightclub. It doesn’t help when they have incredibly enticing names like Canton Disco and Electric Circus (a nod to the building’s heritage). But hey, maybe you’d prefer to sit back and chill in the open air. Well, lucky you, there’s a second rooftop lounge you can check out.
Manoeuvring can feel a little maze-like initially, with multiple entrances and lift locations that connect on certain floors. And while variety is the spice of life, Shanghai Edition is more than just a numbers game. Yes, restaurants may be helmed by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, and no one can refute the impact Ian Schrager of Studio 54 fame has on the design. But one cannot accomplish the ‘more’ until one knows how to be good at the ‘less’ (said a wise person once, I’m sure).
It is evident that Schrager, pioneer of boutique hotels and democratiser of luxury travel, understands this. Foundation is key. During the press conference, he briefly addresses Airbnb as an alternative accommodation, acknowledging the rationale behind its prevalence. People just want a comfortable place to lodge. Yet what sets a hotel apart? Why the need to up the ante?
“I think that the one thing hotels have to do—and that they kind of lost along the way, which gave me my opportunity—is to provide a communal space in the lobby. Which is a new kind of gathering place and a beehive of activity that makes the hotel more than just a place to sleep. It makes it a kind of manifestation of the social fabric of the city that it’s in.”
Thus, at the centre of culture, five minutes from The Bund, Shanghai Edition stands as much a sensory spectacle as it is, at the heart of it, an original, visceral experience.
You can book your stay online or call +86 (0)21 5368 9999.