IN A CITY AS DYNAMIC AS SHANGHAI, the “hot” spots change almost overnight. “Even the internet listings can barely keep up,” says ex-pat Jeanne Lawrence. Nonetheless, there are enduring popular venues. “Because it’s so sophisticated,” says consultant Jennifer Gao, “you tend to go to contemporary Pudong or classic Puxi depending on the nature of your business: banking and commerce are transacted among the contemporary high-rises of Pudong while media and artsy professions favor the classic renovated venues across the river around the Bund.”
She explains major business complexes lie around the Lujiazui stop of the Metro line in Pudong. “Within the high-rise office and shopping mall complex of the IFC Center,” she says, “ The Ritz-Carlton touts itself as the venue of choice for distinguished events. Meeting and conference rooms flooded with natural light and enhanced with customized catering and advanced audiovisual equipment are cited in their ‘impeccable service.’ ’’
Occupying floors 79 to 93 of the Shanghai World Financial Center, the Park Hyatt offers dining and meeting “salons.” On the 93rd floor, three private dining rooms are oriented for board meetings, with high-speed broadband access and wireless LAN in all public areas and meeting rooms. The International Buffet Breakfast is a good place for an early morning start, while the residential-style Living Room, with dramatic views of the Bund — serving light, sophisticated Chinese and Western dishes — offers a popular setting for afternoon tea.
Across Lujiazui Road and near the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, the Pudong Shangri-La offers versatile indoor and outdoor event space equipped with complimentary WiFi, projectors, teleconferencing, simultaneous translation and other state-of-the-art technology. The hotel’s 10 dining venues feature Chinese, Asian and European cuisine in keeping with the district’s cosmopolitan tone.
Restaurants around Pudong offer international cuisines in venues where transactions take place over meals. Pricey Li Yuan is recommended for impressive business lunches and dinners, while the Golden Bull serves upscale Vietnamese dishes. Residents acclaim the Italian fare at Isola, with views across to the Pearl Tower from its umbrella tables. When no bookings are available for the quality food and astounding views in the rooftop Revolving Restaurant of the Oriental Pearl Tower, a colorful fallback is the world’s first Coca-Cola Restaurant, where diverse cuisine complements the in-your-face American flavor.
Across the Huangpu River in Puxi, heritage revitalization has converted historic buildings into contemporary hot spots. While the traditional Yuyung district around the bright red Huxinting pagoda teahouse is colorful, these days it’s a haunt of tourists. Along the Bund colonial and Art Deco buildings, no longer dilapidated and in disrepair, have been restored into cutting-edge, multi-use riverfront restaurants, galleries and cafés.
In Three on the Bund, Mercato restaurant features Italian fare by celebrated Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. A highlight in the former Nissin Shipping Building at Bund 5 is the seventh-floor view from M on the Bund, serving Saturday and Sunday brunches along with afternoon tea. Behind the imposing pillars of Bund 18, a one-time bank headquarters, the Salon de The serves elaborate pastries and savory snacks from Chef Joel Robuchon, while Ginza Onodera features sushi, tempura and other Japanese fare. With décor and cuisine based on the ethnically diverse culture of the southwest province of Yunnan, the Lost Heaven flagship on the Bund proves a perennial favorite with “Silk Road” cocktails and menu choices embellished with truffles abundant in the region.
The urban resort PuLi Hotel, centrally located in Puxi, boasts glass walls in a shimmering contemporary lobby overlooking bamboo plantings. It offers four-hour half-day and eight-hour full-day meeting packages which include a bespoke lunch, tea breaks and basic business equipment provided in the Garden Terrace, PHÉNIX room or in the 26th-floor function spaces. Its restaurant serves Michelin-starred cuisine, and the 105-foot-long Long Bar is a “hip” place to meet for tea or cappuccino.
The city’s original Four Seasons Hotel in Puxi remains a staple, offering conference planning and teambuilding exercises for events and receptions held in its ballroom and six meeting rooms. The hotel lobby, with wraparound couches and floor-to-ceiling windows, makes a popular spot for afternoon tea.
Another neighborhood in Puxi, trendy Xintiandi features a mix of restaurants and boutiques in the affluent, carefree “New Heaven, New Earth” district off Huaihai Road developed by Vincent Lo. Favored venues among the globe-spanning options are the Refinery, a popular outdoor lunch setting serving beef tataki and lemon cheesecake; Italian fare at Luccio’s; or, alternatively, the pricey fare at Va Bene.
Five meeting rooms in The Langham, Shanghai, Xintiandi named for precious gems — the Emerald, Sapphire, Amber, Diamond and Ruby — are equipped with state-of-the-art function and conference spaces. The Cachet Lobby Lounge serves Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood, and a pianist serenades guests in the afternoon.
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