A strikingly modern take on the more 'traditional' Shangri-La image, the Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai hotel trades the classical for the contemporary in the heart of the city's Jing'an district.
Standing at 466 rooms and 42 suites, the 'business traveller basics' aren't forgotten, with ample work space, a Horizon Club lounge for eligible guests and meeting rooms on tap and often free.
Join Australian Business Traveller as we put one of Shanghai's newest hotels to the test.
Location & Impressions
Any doubts about whether the new-age Shangri-La keeps the brand's signature opulence are silenced before even getting your room key.
Guests are greeted in the lobby amidst an impressive 'crystal rain' feature, with imported crystals as abundant as raindrops in the monsoon season.They're just some of the four million crystals on display in the hotel's public spaces, which ultimately serve to guide delegates towards the hotel's meeting and conference rooms.
After all, why follow a mere arrow or sign when a White Crystal Road can take you there instead?
The hotel is also conveniently opposite from the Shanghai Exhibition Centre for other meetings and events, and is roughly 45 minutes by car from the city's Pudong Airport – served by Qantas, Air China and China Eastern from Australia.
For travellers with a little spare time, you're also close to the former French Concession and within easy driving distance of other popular haunts such as The Bund and Xintiandi.
The hotel's Grand Premier rooms are the highest 'regular' room category before reaching the formal suites, yet it's really an executive suite by any other name.
It's a great idea for a quick news brief before heading into the office, but it's only usable when you're standing at the sink rather than taking a bath – the latter requires keeping your head uncomfortably turned to one side rather than simply looking up to view the image.
You'll find a second LCD TV in the bedroom, which is fortunately operated by a remote control that doesn't interfere with the panel in the lounge room if you're sleeping with the dividing doors open.
It makes it near impossible for one person to switch on a reading light without it also shining onto their neighbour's pillow, which seems odd when the lights could simply be pointing downward.
[Click the image to enlarge it – you may be able to spot the iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower in the distance.]
Several multi-country AC outlets accept Aussie plugs without breaking out the adaptors, while there's a convenient USB power outlet for your phone when other devices are connected to the main ports.
The panel also links your laptop to the TV in high definition using HDMI, or through VGA and 3.5mm video and audio inputs – handy if you're giving an important presentation in the suite, or are practicing your delivery before heading into a client's office for that big meeting.
For a change of scenery, guests in the Grand Premier rooms and all designated suites receive complimentary access to the hotel's Horizon Club lounge, as do Shangri-La's Golden Circle Diamond members booked in any room type.
Spanning an entire floor of the hotel as the chain's largest Horizon Club, guests with lounge access can reserve private meeting rooms for two hours per day at no charge, although the bulk of the lounge focusses solely on relaxation rather than productivity.
Despite this, we found only two tables perfectly-suited to laptop work in the entire lounge area – one shown below, and one immediately to the left of the TV:
These tables have a handy power point nearby, while practically everywhere else is better-suited to iPads, cocktails and Kindles.
If the area is to remain cordoned-off throughout the day, we'd really like to see a few of these tables make an appearance in the general lounge space for busy road warriors.
Hotel-wide Internet access is both free and usable, and is available over Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable when surfing from your room.
Specialising in Cantonese cuisine, Summer Palace has different zones depending on how you'd like to enjoy your meal.
In the 'Pantry' area close to the restaurant's entrance, you'll have a full view of the kitchen in a casual setting – and as you walk further into the space, things move upwards to semi-formal and then full Chinese formal.
The menu (and prices) remain the same throughout, which means it costs no more to meet over a nice lunch with a client than it does to eat the exact same food with friends and colleagues in a more relaxed environment.
Wherever you wind up, we'd strongly recommend the roasted crispy pork belly, which was divine.
Café Liang – also open for breakfast for Grand Premier guests plus Jade and Diamond Golden Circle members in any room type – offers Asian and Western cuisines for lunch and dinner on the ground floor and modern Japanese food on the upper level.
Overlooking Chairman Mao's former home, it's also adjacent to Calypso Restaurant & Lounge where you'll find a good choice of Mediterranean dishes such as Neapolitan-style pizzas, Italian burrata and house-made pasta and gelato.
Steak lovers will naturally gravitate to The 1515 West, Chophouse & Bar, with the restaurant's cattle reared here in Australia before being sent to Shanghai in time for dinner.
Those with a busy schedule can dine at their leisure on a 24-hour room service menu, which can also be delivered to the Horizon Club lounge during opening hours for a break from your desk.
Or, head to the lobby and visit the Jason Zhan – the hotel's Chief Concierge and the Chief Representative: China of Les Clefs d’Or – for expert knowledge of Shanghai's hottest restaurants, bars and clubs.
All things considered, the hotel and its excellent staff not only reached our high expectations when it came to service, attention to detail and genuine class, it exceeded them entirely.
From the elegant 'crystal rain' welcome in the lobby to the magnificent view from the rooms and suites, the hotel takes the typical Shangri-La service culture and mixes it with modern style and design at just the right ratio to create something unique and special in Shanghai.
All that remains on the to-do list?
Drag a few more dining or working tables into the main Horizon Club lounge and install a few more power points – then you'll have a winning combination for all travellers, whether they're on serious business or seeking a leisurely break from the daily grind.
Heading to Shanghai on business? Also read:
- Review: Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai hotel
- Global roaming options for China
- Eating and drinking on Shanghai business trips: a concierge guide
- 8 secrets to doing business in China
- Review: Qantas business class lounge, Shanghai Pudong Airport
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Shanghai and stayed as a guest of Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts and the Jing An Shangri-La hotel.
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