Saturday, 5 April 2008

China's/Shanghai's new mid-range traditional Chinese style hotels

Link for full article

JUST a couple of years ago, travellers to China had two options: high end, high-rise chains or grimy youth hostels with squat toilets and snarling service.

But as China booms, so does its hotel industry, and there has been something of a revolution in Beijing and Shanghai, driven in the former's case by the Olympics in August and, in the latter's, the 2010 Expo.


This go-ahead city has more than its fair share of five-star lodgings but, to experience a taste of old Shanghai, avoid the futuristic skyscraper hotels of Pudong and stay in the city's most attractive district, the tree-lined former French concession, or in Jing'an, which is not (yet) as gentrified as other parts of the city. In Shanghai, you won't find hutongs but lilong, or converted alley houses, which date back to the city's glamorous golden age of the jazz-filled 1920s and '30s.

Old House Inn:
A delightful converted lane house, this inn has brought a breath of fresh air to the local accommodation scene, thanks to its small selection of beautifully renovated and stylish rooms at reasonable rates. The hotel's restaurant, A Future Perfect, is one of Shanghai's funkiest.

From 700 yuan;

Urbn Hotel:
Shanghai always has an eye for the latest trends and the new 26-room Urbn Hotel ticks the environmentally friendly box as well with its carbon-neutral status and recycled materials (the building was once a factory). Guests walk through a bamboo-lined courtyard and past a reception area decorated with antique suitcases; corridors on the four floors are lined with bricks taken from demolished factories, and the wood used on the floors and in the rooms is recycled Chinese mahogany.
One of the two expat owners is from Sydney and they have tried to make the rooms as different from a standard hotel as possible; there are sunken baths, low Asian-style beds and wrap-around couches that are great for lounging and watching a massive TV.

From 1400 yuan;

If relentless trendiness isn't for you, try staying at No.9, which is more like being in a friend's beautiful and surprisingly rustic '30s house than in a hotel. The Taiwanese owner has converted his grandfather's home and, with only five rooms, it's a world away from most anonymous hotel experiences.
You'll find this delightful B&B, with its walled garden, down a lively back lane where life continues in much the same way it has for centuries. But be warned: taxi drivers can struggle to find No.9 as it doesn't announce its existence and there's no website.

From 700 yuan. 9 Lane 355, Jianguo Xi Lu; phone + 86 21 6471 9950.

Lapis Casa Boutique Hotel:
Guests here couldn't be closer to the action: the hotel is a block away from Shanghai's main entertainment complex, Xintiandi.
This small and elegant place opened in May 2007 after its brother and sister owners spent two years converting the unassuming building into an antiques-filled hideaway. Guests enter through large wooden doors before reaching the stone-floored reception area and corridors lined with lovely stained glass. The 18 guestrooms have different themes, though all are from the past; the favourite (and most expensive) is the corner suite with its 1900s traditional Shanghainese decor, wooden floors, soft lighting and red carpet.

From 1500 yuan;

Jia Shanghai:
Describing itself as a residence rather than a hotel, the 55-room Jia Shanghai opened at the end of 2007 and has seen a host of stars through its doors (although presumably someone escorted them in as there isn't anything as boring as a sign).
The original structure was built in 1926, but few traces of the past remain inside; instead, like its original sister hotel in Hong Kong, it is cutting-edge design all the way.
The corridors are dark and mysterious but open on to bright, white guestrooms equipped with the latest entertainment systems and small kitchens.
There's a complimentary breakfast served in the arty lobby as well as free afternoon tea and cocktails all evening.

From 1395 yuan;

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