by Peter J. Bates

Monday, February 1, 2010

An Eye on Hotels in Beijing & Shanghai

I just spent a week in China visiting new luxury hotels, and I am astounded as to how rapidly the country is growing. My last visit was only a year ago, and in that time the landscape has dramatically changed. New properties have opened or are about to open, and the country is raising its accommodation standards for luxury, style and service.

Since Asia is indeed fresh in my mind, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on some of my favorite hotels in Beijing and Shanghai, cities that never fail to intrigue me.


Although this property is not new, the St. Regis – Beijing ( is a standout for me. The hotel underwent an extensive renovation before the Olympics, and it continues to be one of my top choices in the city.

For the first time, I visited the Aman at the Summer Palace, located outside the city ( It is tranquil, delightful and a must-see.

If you are looking for value, try the new Hilton Beijing Wangfujing ( It has an ideal location – a ten-minute walk from the Forbidden City – and boasts large rooms, a very attentive staff, and superb value for money.

Coming soon is a new Shangri- La – China World Summit Wing ( It will be smaller than other Shangri – La properties and have restaurants designed by the pre-eminent hospitality master Adam Tihany.

No discussion of incredible hotels in Beijing would be complete without mentioning Raffles Beijing (, The Opposite House (, two Ritz Carlton properties ( and a Park Hyatt (

There is so much choice and tremendous competition. I consider Beijing an over-built hospitality market, and it’ll take an estimated five years to catch up. And yet, hotel operators and owners continue to pile in and invest.


A city that never sleeps, Shanghai is vibrant, colorful and always developing. With a few months to go until the World Expo, this city is pulling out all the stops to showcase the globe. The anticipation is inspiring. Over 70,000 million visitors are expected to visit the World Expo between May and October – only about 5% of these will be international visitors thereby showing the size and importance of the local market.

The Park Hyatt Shanghai ( in Pudong remains one of the most fantastic hotels in the world – a definite ‘must’ experience for any traveler. Now, however, almost adjacent to the Park Hyatt is the Ritz Carlton Pudong ( – the second Ritz Carlton in the city – opening in time for the World Expo. Affording fabulous views over The Bund, this Ritz Carlton will be a very attractive addition to the city.

Across the water and downtown is The Peninsula ( No expense was spared in this magnificent new hotel. The craftsmanship is terrific, the Chinese art was especially commissioned for display in the hotel, and every detail has been carefully thought out. It appears nothing was left to chance.

While The Peninsula is well on its way to becoming a classic, I recommend two other hotels to consider – The Puli ( and The Swatch Art Peace Hotel ( The Puli is clean, minimalist, light and airy with a great spa and pool. Very discreet and not yet open is The Swatch Art Peace Hotel, a small gem with only seven rooms and suites and a rooftop restaurant. This true boutique hotel, located across the way from the fabled Peace Hotel, will invite artists from around the world to take up residence and display their work. When it opens later this year, it’ll be worth a return trip to Shanghai.

Of course, Shanghai has every major hotel brand already and more to come – both Waldorf Astoria ( and Conrad ( will open this year.

Wherever you go, hotel companies are focusing their budgets and resources on greater China – this is where the growth will come from.

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