There are many outstanding hotels in Shanghai and choosing where to stay during a short visit could be a difficult decision. For those who love history and eager to explore how the elite of Shanghai partied and adventurers travel back in the 20th century, Fairmont Peace Hotel is the best choice indeed.
Shanghai was the place to be back in the 19th century, a roaring international port of incredible energy and opportunity. Standing beside Huangpu River, Fairmont Peace Hotel- formerly The Cathay Hotel- was the most glamorous establishment back in the 1930s. In the city where West met East, the buildings along the river-side Bund or “Wall Street of the East” were built by the British using dignified marble, granite and concrete. It was a symbol of prosperity and success.
A gentlemen by the name of Sir Victor Sassoon, a property and finance tycoon, enjoyed racehorses, high style and throwing fabulous parties wearing flamboyant costume, where the swanky, chic, talented, artistic and famous all mingled. Back in 1929, The Cathay Hotel was already well-known for its world-class amenities. It had air-conditioning, in-house telephones as well as water that came from the Bubbling Well spring, a water source to the Western end of Nanjing Road.
In the early 1930s wars started to break out in Shanghai and The Cathay Hotel was damaged by bombs. The historic hotel survived World War II and after the Communist victory of 1949, it reopened in 1956 as The Peace Hotel. The old Peace Hotel Jazz Band played on, and the distinctive green copper pyramid tower could still be seen on the Shanghai skyline. At that time the hotel only received distinguished visitors such as foreign delegations and in 1964, China’s beloved Premier, Zhou EnLai held diplomatic discussions in the hotel.
Today in the 21st century, the famous hotel on the Bund re-opened as the Fairmont Peace Hotel after years of careful restoration. Elements of contemporary sophistication can be detected in numerous infrastructural details and service standards. 1920s Lalique glass ornaments, fixtures, and the original Art Deco frieze of the two greyhound design reminds us of the old world.
A stay in the French Suite is a must at the hotel as it exudes old-world glamour and was restored to what it was in history but with all the modern amenities and comforts discerning travelers deserve. Foodies would be delighted by the food and beverage offerings crafted by talented chefs. At Dragon Phoenix, a venue visited by President Xi Jinping not long ago, authentic Shanghainese cuisine is served beautifully presented in a space which overlooks the exciting Huangpu River and the Pudong area across. The meticulous chef at Dragon Phoenix pairs modern cooking methods and visualisation with a traditional Shanghainese taste that does not overwhelm the palate with sweetness. Every dish is a sight to behold and beyond delicious. The Cathay Room, an epicentre for European cuisine, features creative dishes such as vegetarian pasta with rice paper which adds a truly unique touch to a wonderful stay at one of the most iconic hotels in China. Irene Sam, MDT