Shanghai has emerged as China’s capital of all that is cosmopolitan—it has Asia’s richest collection of Art Deco buildings, the nation’s best chefs, a thriving business hub and some of the world’s tallest and most unusual-looking skyscrapers. The city is undergoing a renaissance, and that’s why Forbes Travel Guide has chosen Shanghai for its fifth international destination. Visit Startle on April 17 to see our picks for Shanghai’s best hotels, spas and restaurants. But for now, see what’s new in China’s largest city.
Where to Stay
One of the city’s newest hotels is Andaz Shanghai, which sits in the fashionable Xintiandi neighborhood amid chic boutiques and historic shikumen houses. Opened in October, it’s the first Asian outpost of the Andaz brand. The ultra-modern rooms come with the latest technology: Play with the colors of the LED lighting in the bedroom ceiling and the bathroom’s translucent sink and tub. Wake up in the dark, and a sensor flicks on the nightlight. The bathrooms also come with heated floors and a Toto toilet with more buttons than a TV remote. Don’t forget to stop into the hotel’s Éclair bakery to snack on cream-filled pastries, fresh-baked bread and chocolate. Business travelers will do well to check into the 720-room Shanghai Marriott Hotel City Centre, which debuted in November just north of People’s Square, the geographical city center. Power players reserve its 48 executive suites and plentiful meeting spaces. However, you may want to seal the deal over sake and sublime sashimi at the hotel’s Inagiku, the first Shanghai branch for this 150-year-old Japanese restaurant brand.
Where to Eat and Drink
Shanghai’s food scene keeps evolving. August saw the birth of Malt Fun, where nearly every major whiskey region—from the Orkney Islands to the Highlands—is represented. The bar’s iPad menu also includes a small selection of bourbons, Japanese malts like Yamazaki and well-poured cocktails made with top-shelf liquors like Grey Goose and Hendrick’s. Though if you want cocktails, take a quick jaunt from Malt Fun to The Fennel Lounge. The new arrival in Shanghai’s ever-expanding cocktail culture serves creative, handcrafted drinks like the Fennel Cooler—absinthe; apple, pineapple and lemon juices; Cointreau; egg whites; and shaved fresh fennel.
Those who prefer beer over whiskey and cocktails can tipple at newly opened Dr. Beer. Teddy Gowan, formerly of Upstate New York’s Lake Placid Craft Brewing Company, brews standards like IPA, Pilsner, pale and dark ales, and wheat beer in the warehouse-like space. Try to snatch a table with a tap.
For dinner, head to Nene, a pint-sized Italian spot that opened in December. Its warm wooden tables and L-shaped open kitchen beckon you to sit down and try a crispy, spicy, thin-crust arrabiata pizza and housemade ravioli bursting with duck and spinach and coated in porcini sauce. Or go next door to Bikini, another eatery that debuted in December. The Spanish-run, self-proclaimed “outer space and porn”-themed restaurant serves gourmet hot dogs like Mr. Jeremy—truffle oil, Dijon, Emmental, garlic, sautéed mushrooms and arugula—and buttery pressed sandwiches like Miss Lovelace—Iberian pork loin and mushrooms.
For upscale Shanghainese cuisine, meander a couple leafy blocks in the lovely French Concession area to Le Sheng, which opened mid-December and is the first Chinese food venture from well-known local restaurateur David Laris. Start off with crispy yellow croaker fish spring rolls before moving onto drunken chicken, poached in salty yellow wine, or scoop up xiefen dofu—soft, salty tofu with hairy crabmeat, a Shanghai specialty.