For the past 60 years, Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels was a company with a rather misleading name. It didn’t actually have a hotel in Shanghai.
This misnomer was finally remedied last Sunday when its Peninsula Hotel opened on the city’s historic Bund.
It marks a triumphant return for the company, which was founded in 1866. At its peak the Kadoorie family-firm had four Shanghai hotels, the most prominent being the Astor House and the Palace. But operations in the city ceased in 1949. Hoteliers were no longer welcome (the era of “state guest houses” had begun). Meanwhile its old Shanghai clientele had decamped to Taiwan.
The new hotel – which has 235 rooms and 44 suites – is located at number 32 The Bund, next to the old British Consulate Gardens. The art deco inspired structure (built with sandstone from the same quarry as The Bund’s other period architecture) is the first new building to be erected on the famous riverside road in six decades.
The Peninsula is keen to evoke the company’s ‘old Shanghai’ past. The lobby lounge will host weekly tea dances. If that isn’t Somerset Maugham enough for you, there’s also a replica 1930s ‘cage’ elevator made by Schindler.
However, the hotel also caters to contemporary Shanghainese needs. The ballroom, for example, has an elevator that’s designed to hold a car. Just the thing for the billionaire who wants to make an entrance in his bulletproof Bentley.
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