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We suspected that the Swissotel Shanghai was special when we entered our suite. We’ve stayed in numerous luxury hotels, but this suite blew us away. It was grand. It was big. It was refined. The view was fantastic. Could it get any better?
Then we rode the elevator down 25 floors to the lobby for afternoon tea at the hotel’s Flow Lounge & Bar. When the auspicious tower of pastries, tea sandwiches and scones arrived, prepared by the hotel’s internationally acclaimed team of pastry specialists, we knew that we were in for a fabulous stay at one of the best hotels in Shanghai.
How We Got to the Swissotel Grand Shanghai
After an eight-year hiatus, we were excited to return to the city that loves soup dumplings as much as we do. We arrived in Shanghai after a two-week Asian cruise armed with 144-hour visas and ready to attack.
Knowing that we’d be burning the candles at both ends and eating a prodigious amount of dumplings for ‘research’ purposes, we wanted to stay at a centrally located hotel with all of the modern day conveniences.
Let’s face it – visiting Shanghai can be overwhelming. With a population exceeding 24 million people and more designer stores than we can count on all of our fingers and toes, the Chinese mega-city moves with an unrelenting pace that does not stop.
Shanghai hotels can make or break a stay in the Paris of the Orient. Our stay at the Swissotel Grand Shanghai made us yearn for more of the world’s largest city before our plane left the tarmac.
Swissotel Grand Shanghai Hotel Review
To quote a friend who stayed at the Swissotel Grand Shanghai at our recommendation: “It was wonderful!!! Excellent location and nice hotel.” Brief and to the point, this commentary just tells part of the story for this luxury Shanghai hotel…
A full-service hotel, the Swissotel Grand Shanghai features conference and banquet facilities as well as 467 rooms and suites. All rooms and suites have amenities like complimentary WiFi and flat-screen televisions as well as premium bath products. However, depending on your budget, some rooms are better than others.
During our visit, we stayed in a Pinnacle Suite (pictured at the top of the article) on the hotel’s 26th floor. The well-appointed suite was both spaciously sized and stylishly decorated. Beyond its size and design, the suite sported all of the typical features we would expect at a Shanghai luxury hotel as well as a DVD player, iPod and Nespresso machine.
Ironically, the suite’s most notable feature didn’t involve modern technology. No electricity was necessary to enjoy the sweeping views through the suite’s floor-to-ceiling windows.
At the end of the day, the bed and bathroom matter a lot at any hotel. Neither disappointed us during our stay. As is the case in much of Asia, the suite’s bed was extra firm.
For a fun touch, we selected pillows from a pillow menu. Yes, you read that right. The Shanghai Swissotel provides a range of pillow choices for its guests.
If you’re wondering about the bathroom – it was big. Really big. We never felt crowded when we prepped for a busy day of touring or wound down at the day’s end. How could we with a shower big enough for two people but perfect for one?
As much as we loved our suite, our happy place in the Swissotel was its executive club lounge. Located on the 27th floor and exclusive for guest staying on the hotel’s upper floors, the lounge was a true respite from the chaotic city.
We popped into the lounge for a quick cup of tea in the morning and ended our days with cocktails and a range hors-d’oeuvres, cheeses and local Chinese, wok-prepared specialties.
Sparkling water and beer flowed all day long in the lounge, and there was no better spot for us to do a bit of work at a table or in a private space. We printed our airplane tickets here and watched CNN on the large television. If Shanghai wasn’t such a vibrant city, we could have happily spent all day in the lounge. We certainly wouldn’t have been hungry, thirsty or bored.
This Shanghai hotel’s spa facilities are impressive. Both the gym and heated pool are co-ed; however, the whirlpools, saunas and steam rooms are separated for the two genders. We found the spa area impeccably clean and well-stocked with towels at all hours of the day and night.
Shanghai is an exciting food city. Not only is the city famous for street food like xiaolongbao (also known as soup dumplings), but the Shanghai food scene also has a burgeoning third wave coffee scene and Ultraviolet, one of the world’s most gastronomic restaurants.
With so many food options in Shanghai, you might think that we skipped eating at the Swissotel during our stay but you would be wrong. Though we ate at numerous off-site eateries and even took a food tour during our visit, we enjoyed the following hotel dining experiences during our visit:
If you’ve never experienced a buffet breakfast at an Asian luxury hotel, then you’re missing out. We had high expectations for our breakfast at the Swissotel Grand Shanghai and we were not disappointed.
Set in the sprawling Cafe Swiss, the hotel’s breakfast buffet features both Chinese and Western breakfast items. Guests can assemble their own soup or let the attentive staff whip up some eggs to order.
The options are quite extensive and even include Swiss cheeses. During our breakfast, we loaded our plates but held off on seconds so that we wouldn’t be too full for lunch.
Served in the lobby’s spacious Flow Lounge and Bar, afternoon tea at the Swissotel Grand Shanghai is a relaxing experience filled with tasty tidbits and exquisite pastries. As we sipped tea and nibbled on savory sandwiches and sweet treats, all of our stresses slowly slipped away leaving us refreshed and ready to continue attacking the city.
Although the Swissotel offers fine dining options at Yuan Yuan and Moon’s Steakhouse, we opted to grab a quick bite at the Cafe Swiss. Both the hamburger and wonton soup were generously portioned and well flavored.
As busy hotel guests, we enjoyed the casual atmosphere and convenience to our room.
Situated in the heart of the city and just meters from a metro station, the Swissotel Grand Shanghai is a great base for exploring Shanghai. We walked most places during our visit including the nearby Jing’an Temple and French Concession neighborhood as well as to more distant sites like the Jade Buddha Temple and People’s Square.
We were also able to easily walk to many restaurants and coffee shops. For visits to Pudong, we hopped on the metro (line 2) and arrived there quickly.
China has strict visa requirements. Do your research in advance as rules vary based on country of residence.
We recommend three ways to get to the Swissotel Grand Shangai hotel from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport:
- The easiest option is to take a taxi. The ride should take under an hour depending on traffic and will cost approximately RMB 200 (currently $32 US).
- The cheapest option is to take the Shanghai Metro. The hotel is just a five-minute walk from the Jing’an Temple station. You can take line 2 directly from the airport. The ride should take under two hours depending on the time of day and will cost approximately RMB 9 (currently $1.50 US).
- The coolest option is to take the MAGLEV (magnetic levitation) train, the fastest train in the world. At a speed of 430 kilometers per hour, the 34-kilometer ride from the airport to Longyang Road station to the airport takes just eight minutes. You can take a taxi or metro (line 2) from the Longyang Road station to the hotel. The combination metro and MAGLEV ride should take under an hour and will cost approximately RMB 55 (currently $9 US).
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.