The Fairmont Peace Hotel, located at the prestigious junction of Nanjing East Rd and The Bund in Shanghai was one of the most unique properties I’ve ever visited. Walking inside immediately transports you to the city’s most glamorous decades- the 1920s, 30s, and 40s where lavish galas were hosted almost every night at the hotel. The Peace Hotel recently underwent an extensive renovation before reopening in 2010 under the Fairmont brand. The renovations preserved much of the authentic charm of the original property, while incorporating modern touches and conveniences. As someone who has always been very attracted to Shanghai’s old school glamour, I decided that the Peace hotel was a must visit!
The Fairmont Peace hotel is one of the most easily recognizable buildings in the Bund skyline. The copper green pyramid roof serves as a trademark of the hotel, preserved from its opening in 1929. The Peace Hotel (then called the Cathay Hotel) was recognized as the most prestigious hotel in China, hosting a slew of prominent figures from entertainers to statesmen. In 1992, the Peace Hotel was recognized as one of the most famous hotels in the world by the World Hotel Association.
The Bund location is ideal for both business and leisure travelers alike. The strip houses many of Shanghai’s preeminent restaruants, hotels and clubs, making it a popular destination in the evenings. Taxis frequently drive up and down the 10 lane road, but on the off chance you can’t find one, the hotel is located right across the street from Shanghai’s subway system.
Much like the Bund itself, The Fairmont Peace Hotel mixes just the right amount of Western luxury with Eastern flair. Like many historic properties, the hotel emphasizes public areas over private quarters. The entrance, restaurants, and bars are all incredibly grand. I love the lobby with its high vaulted ceilings, plush dressings, elaborate lighting fixtures and other ornate touches. Every evening, a string orchestra performs in the hotel lobby- a beautiful tribute to the days when the hotel often welcomed VIP to their evening galas.
I should also point out that the service at the Fairmont Peace Hotel is exceptional. If you look just a tad bit lost, someone will almost magically appear to assist you. The staff doesn’t direct you where to go- they go out of their way to walk you there. The concierge will print both Chinese and English directions for anywhere you want to go in the city- a copy for you and a copy for your cab driver. Everyone I encountered was incredibly warm- so much so that it became one of the things that I remembered most about my experience here.
As much as I love a decadent spacious room with sweeping views, the only thing that really matters to me is the quality of the bed- and let me tell you- I love a Fairmont bed. There is nothing like sinking into a luxurious pillow top bed after a long journey- in fact, if I weren’t in one of the most exciting cities in the world, that bed would beckon me all day. The rooms and bathrooms are decorated in Art Deco style with a soothing palette with touches of Eastern art. Due to the historic nature of the building, many rooms face an interior courtyard, thus compromising the natural lighting of the space. If you are picky about having a lot of natural light, be sure to request a Deluxe Room which features a street view.
The rooms are also equipped with all modern technology featuring Illy espresso machine, bath-side LCD screen, claw-foot tub, Philips 37-inch flat-screen television, Philips Audio ipod docking station, Blu-ray DVD player and wireless and broadband Internet.
Even those not staying at the Peace Hotel should make a visit to Dragon Phoenix for dinner. My philosophy when I travel is that I always want to eat the best local food. Unfortunately, many of the high end restaurants in Shanghai are western- but if I wanted to eat “New American cuisine,” I could do so right in New York! Dragon Phoenix serves local Shanghainese cuisine as well as pan-Chinese dishes on the 8th floor of the hotel, against breathtaking views of The Bund and the Pudong skyline. The decor feels very grand and traditional Chinese, but comfortable and provides a very interesting juxtaposition to the modern, urban scene outside the windows. The restaurant provides seamless, personal service and of course, the food is authentic and delicious!
I very much enjoyed my stay at the Fairmont Peace Hotel. It’s certainly a very different experience from many of the other luxurious hotels in Shanghai, but I particularly loved the history of the property. The overall feeling of the Peace Hotel is that it is very authentic to its roots- both to its illustrious history as well as to the Fairmont brand. That’s the best combination for a traveler who likes to immerse in local culture and try new things, but all the while being guaranteed a certain level of comfort and hospitality.