With picturesque streets, cobbled courtyards and European-style villas, Shanghai’s Former French Concession provides a welcome retreat from the hustle of the city centre. With choices that range from five-star spa retreats to traditional villas and budget-friendly hostels, here’s Culture Trip’s round-up of the 10 best hotels in the area.
The Langham, Shanghai, Xintiandi
The Langham, Shanghai, Xintiandi has contemporary-style guest rooms | Courtesy of The Langham, Shanghai, Xintiandi / Booking.com
Next to Huaihai Road (one of Shanghai’s main shopping streets) and a mere 60 seconds from South Huangpi Road subway station lies The Langham – a luxury, five-star hotel that couldn’t be a more perfect base from which to explore the city. Home to a 24-hour fitness centre, a two-Michelin-star restaurant (T’ang Court, which serves Cantonese delicacies) and 357 contemporary-style guest rooms all with spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows, this hotel has everything guests could want and more.
If you’re looking for something more in keeping with the traditional feel of the Former French Concession, Moller Villa is a perfect choice. It’s only five minutes from the lively Xintiandi area, but its 2,000-square-metre (21,528-square-foot) gardens and Norwegian-style architecture provide an undeniable air of serenity. The truly majestic three-storey villa, which dates back over 70 years, delivers on accessibility, too – with West Nanjing subway station just 10 minutes away on foot.
Dating back to 1917, this hotel features 100 acres of impeccably landscaped grounds and regal, provincial-style villas. Inside, the 238 spacious guest rooms feature modern, contemporary decor. Guests are bound to love the La Rue restaurant, which serves global fusion food, and the hotel’s extensive spa facilities.
Quintet BnB features five comfortable rooms | Courtesy of Quintet BnB / Booking.com
This quirky boutique B&B is housed in a three-storey, 1939 garden lane house, decked out in original Art-Deco features. You’ll need to book Quintet well in advance as it only has five rooms (one of which – Aurora – comes with its own private rooftop patio), which aids in giving the B&B a private, exclusive feel. Each room comes with a standard, made-to-order Western-style breakfast, and during the afternoon, guests can enjoy the property’s sun terrace.
Being five minutes from Huaihai Road and 10 minutes from Xintiandi, The Mansion Hotel offers a fantastic base to explore the French Concession by foot. Built in the 1920s by a French architect, it was once owned by local gangsters Jim Ting Sun and Du Yue Sheng who hosted many wild 1930s parties (if only walls could talk!) before it was lovingly restored into a five-star, boutique hotel. The rooms offer plenty of nods to the golden 1930s era, including vintage photos, ceramics and furniture in keeping with the period.
While many hotel options in the Former French Concession tend to be luxury accommodations, there are choices available for those on a budget. Perfect for solo travellers, Ruijing Garden Apartment, which is 700 metres from trendy art area Tianzifang, doubles up as a spacious, shared apartment, with two single-sex dorms, private bathrooms and free Wi-Fi.
Nestled away in a leafy residential neighbourhood is Anting Villa Hotel Shanghai. The venue offers 143 European-style rooms (some with balconies that overlook the picturesque gardens), a traditional Shanghainese restaurant, a gym and karaoke. Despite its peaceful location, Hengshan Road subway is only two minutes away and connects guests to People’s Square, the Bund and beyond.
Located just a short stroll from Jing’an Temple and Nanjing Road, a major shopping area, The Puli Hotel and Spa is a truly modern, luxury spa resort. Highlights include the tea-themed, state-of-the-art “Ur spa”. This facility is equipped with a stunning infinity pool overlooking Jing’An Park, as well as a whole host of treatments available, including traditional Chinese massage, anti-pollution treatments and golden body masks. Rooms and suites come with all the amenities you’d expect from a hotel of this nature – flat-screen TVs, BOSE speakers, Nespresso coffee machines and giant bathtubs that overlook the skyline.
Smack bang in the centre of the Former French Concession (on Hengshan Road) is Twelve at Hengshan, an upmarket hotel owned by the Marriott Group. While an Italian architect designed the terracotta building, there’s still plenty of nods to traditional Chinese decor, too. Guests can expect suites with outdoor balconies, a 24-hour, state-of-the-art gym with a pool, a spa area, and plenty of dining options, including Tops and Terrace, which serves both international and Chinese cuisine in a spectacular, outdoor setting.
Nestled in a quiet, leafy residential area and only 15 minutes from Hongqiao International Airport, international hotel chain Radisson has a big presence in China. The Radisson Blu Plaza Xing Guo Hotel overlooks seven meticulously manicured hectares of grounds, where guests can dine at two restaurants: Li Palace, a traditional Chinese restaurant, and Cafe Li Brasserie, which serves international fare.