Luxury Hotels

Shanghai’s tall-tall luxury hotel

From the maze, in front of the hotel

Park Hyatt Shanghai rises above competitors, in more ways than one. This is a luxury hotel that soars up nearly to the top of the 492-metre Shanghai World Financial Centre, an incredible sculpture of a building by architects KPF (it has a cut-out at the very top, which makes it seem like the world’s biggest bottle opener). Down at ground level, it is like an art gallery. A one-off painted car, shown above, advertises an art show. In front of the luxury hotel’s ultra-discreet entrance there is a maze of bamboo that the gal walked through to immerse herself before going inside. The hotel’s designer, Tony Chi, has made this a holy of holies: enter through ceiling-high, 15-feet at least, automatic glass doors, via several 90-degree turns, to the elevators.

Hotel coffee stall

By the elevators waits a frieze of all-white sculptures, hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, waits.Fortunately the GM, Etienne Dalancon, is a highly creative businessman who has put in a bit of human activity down at this entrance. There is now a coffee stall, your brew in paper cups, just what today’s time-deprived achievers want (goodness knows what Tony Chi would think of this but he is a designer for whom aesthetics are sometimes more important than practicality). But M. Delancon listens to his customers, and he listens to his 526 team members; his door is always open, an essential component in a city where staff turnover is sometimes over 50% a year – his is a mere 17.5%. Looking after this 174-room hotel is no easy task. Tall ceilings and dark areas are a Chi favourite, it seems.

GM and chef inspect breakfast

Bedroom windows stretch across the entire wall and thus, most of the daylight hours, give in masses of light. Views are sensational, far down to Pudong, and across the river back to the Bund. I was back in suite 8304, which I should know by now but even so at first I bump into things, and wonder what pulls out to form a door, and so on, but I leave the suite, to head up to the 85th floor wellness area, where the raised infinity pool deliberately splashes down, over the sides, when anyone swims. Overhead, here, ten orange lanterns, hanging from the – normal height – ceiling give a burst of colour. There is colour too at dinner, when we start with the antipasti buffet delicately set out in the library. Main courses are brought, à la carte, and I exclaim at the beauty of a Claude Dozorme steak knife that Monsieur D found in Paris.

Looking out into clouds

Amazingly he is there the following morning, up at the 93rd floor breakfast, inspecting minutiae with the equally-charming chef, from Berlin (the baguette, it appears, did not meet his approval). He claims he had to get up at 5.15 this morning to farewell the hotel’s owner, taking an early flight back to Tokyo, but I am impressed all the same. While I am enjoying my yoghurt – the best on the entire trip (the worst tasted like condensed milk but I will not say where that was) – it begins to rain. By the time I am back home in 8304 this luxury hotel is completely enveloped in cloud, and for the rest of my short stay I feel I am wrapped in cotton wool, and very special.