Tuesday, December 6, 2011
The lobby can be described in one word: grand. The Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai: timeless. It's hard to find a flaw, especially because it so graciously melds its history from when Shanghai was known as the Paris of the East with its modern status as a gathering spot in the city. Checking in was the best welcome to China and was where I met up with my fellow travelers and Abercrombie & Kent guide, Gerald Hatherly.
Across the street are the bright lights of Pudong, a view that didn't exist 20 years ago. But the Peace Hotel has stood strong here on the Bund for over 80 years, formerly the Cathay Hotel before becoming the Peace Hotel in 1956. American and British ex-pats loved the Old Jazz Club, which is now the Jazz Bar in the lobby today. When I arrived at night, completely bleary-eyed (I had taken my blurry, dry contacts out in an angry huff & thrown them on the Shanghai airport floor), I heard strains of jazz music through the lobby and was in another world.
The entire place epitomizes the golden age of this city. Each room and suite was refurbished in 2007 and mine was great. The only thing to make it better would have been a view of Pudong.
Only the famous suites have views of Pudong (the front of the building is small) and we got to tour these Nine Nations Suites, which reflect the global flair of the Peace Hotel. I loved the Indian Suite and the Japanese Suite. Other suites include the American, Spanish, German, Chinese and Italian ones.
The founder of the hotel, Sir Victor Sassoon (unrelated to the hair family, but a very wealthy Indian family), kept a penthouse here, which is now the Presidential Suite and evocative of his time. But, of course, it's now draped in the latest tech products. Someone even rented it out for the day of the Royal Wedding and invited friends and family to come watch it in the Suite. Perfect! I took tons of photos.
The Dragon Phoenix Chinese restaurant was and is very famous for its decor and food.
The famous ballroom, the Peace Hall, is popular for Shanghai society weddings.
I loved seeing these moments in history throughout the hotel--Charlie Chaplin stayed here.