Best way to start the day at the fabulous new luxury hotel that is Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai, is to take a run along the bank of the Huangpu River. The gal did two circuits with the hotel’s super-fit boss, Pierre Barthès. He typically runs the tiled river road, then loops back through a decades-old park. Other regulars do the same. One sprightly lady, in a pair of pale pink pyjamas, is doing some tai-chi. Apparently she is 84. If you want to appear typically Chinese, by the way, wear silky pyjamas outside.
We were welcomed back to the hotel by the pair of butlers assigned, 24/7, to suite 2501. He is Japanese, she is Chinese, and blissfully they never get in the way. He is a bit of a genius. I asked for a Financial Times and it was in my car, on departure (the car also came with an iPad, fixed to the back of the front seat for easy reading – it is preloaded with such other essential reading matter as the Moscow Times, very useful for oligarchs on their travels).
This is a hotel, like its siblings elsewhere in the world, for business and pleasure, work and leisure. Some would put keeping fit into the business-work category and for those for whom it is pleasure-leisure, here you have not only running outside but working out in the gym. There is a yoga studio, a Technogym that, like those butlers, is round the clock. The indoor pool, 75 feet long, has a few peripheral sculptures, by Ding Yi and Pan Wei. The 13-room spa, where all rooms are named butterfly, in different languages, is, well, embellished with butterfly motifs, chosen by BUZ, which has also done some of the restaurants.
You can eat your fill here, elaborately or simply. Yong Yi Ting, which serves south of the Yangtze food, has eight private dining rooms which, rather confusingly, mostly have glass walls – privacy here includes being seen (but then some Chinese like glass walls to their toilets). Richard Ekkebus, who heads the two-Michelin Amber at Landmark Mandarin Oriental, oversees the must-visit steak place here, Fifty 8° Grill, where all dishes are served family style, even my memorable Tasmanian steak, sliced on a wooden board for us both to salivate over, and taste.
But you can also eat simply. Buy something in the Cake Shop. Join local ‘millionaires’ having afternoon tea, along with their obligatory single-child. You guess they are millionaires because they can afford the best and they want it, and they are the right age group: the median millionaire in China is 36-39, and is two-thirds likely to be male, and after travel, tea-tasting is a top hobby. The woman will be beautifully dressed, in real designer clothes. The man, if not well dressed, will at least be sporting an extremely expensive watch.
You can eat simply, too, in the luxury hotel’s all-day Zest, where the buffets range from Chinese and Japanese through to Western. The display of colourful teapots behind one of the serving stations reminds me of the simple, all-white ‘teapot’ back up in my home here, suite 2501… It fortunately gives access to the Club Lounge, where more beautiful food seems to be available, if not quite 24/7 at least day-long. See the lunch salad I made myself (I managed to escape Mr Japan and Ms China, the eagle-eyed butlers). By the way, if you want to know even more details about staying in this fabulous place, see the retro, must-have Gostelow Report, only available via firstname.lastname@example.org