Ten years ago, The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, opened on 21 June 2010 at precisely 11.08am. It is still an Art Deco jewel, on the upper floors of the César Pelli-designed 58-floor International Financial Centre IFC in Shanghai’s Pudong business area.
I am helped out of the Wi-Fi-enabled Jaguar by a doorman in a jaunty straw hat, taken up to the 52nd-floor lobby and escorted into another elevator, stingray-leather sided, to go down to the 24/7 Club Lounge on the 49th floor (the 285 rooms are on floors 39 to 51). Suite #4923 is 50 square metres and, typical of all 60 Club Rooms, is absolutely gorgeous. Both my equal spaces have full end wall windows looking down past the 468-metre-tall Oriental Pearl Tower to the Huangpu River and across to North Bund. My central coffee table in the salon bears a rectangular leather chest, opened to show the lid’s inner photo of people in Old Shanghai.
Many of the 600 employees dress Art Deco, some men sport morning suits with golden cravats while the bellmen have flat caps and braces. The front desk women have cream suits with black essences and pearls. In the Club lounge, dresses are soft purple to match the main night-time lighting of Oriental Pearl. Club privileges include pressing and a town car. I use my silver-printed A4 stationery with matching envelopes – ordinary stationery is A5, brown on white – but both have self-seal envelopes.
I head to the 55th-floor spa for a firm-pressure Chinese back massage. Would I like tea? No, I head to the gym for a necessary dose of BBC and Bloomberg world news, and sadly miss the hotel’s regular 6pm saxophonist playing in the lobby – he moves to the adjacent lobby lounge at 6.30pm.
Dinner is in Scena, leading off the lobby. “Careful”, cautions a server, bowing towards two steps at the entrance (why do designers do such things?). We are led to a table by the window, looking out at Oriental Pearl and its changing colours. It is blissfully clear and we can see the bright lights of tourist cruisers plying up and down this stretch of the river. Unbelievably, the manager brings over an already-poured Hendrick’s with a cucumber-embedded ice ball and matching tonic (how did he know?). I start with foie gras, which does not seem too rich, and then seabass with plenty of vegetables.
Then we head upstairs, in an elevator lined with real green glass bottles, end on, to join local achievers (average age 25 to 35), up in the Super Potato-designed Flair bar, on the 58th-floor rooftop. There are indoor areas, formed of recycled wood and Japanese river stones, but most popular tonight are the outside terraces for selfie-loving couples with that background view.
Hotel GM Hoss Vetry knows that in the morning I will try both breakfasts. The Club has Guy Degrenne china with big dark purple radial blocks on white and matching tall cups. Scena’s breakfast has the same superb Golden Milan coffee, served in tall brown Luzerne mugs. As I leave a server miraculously appears just in time to push the elevator button. He holds, unexpectedly, a capped hotel-branded paper cup of coffee and says “it is my honour”.
Mary Gostelow’s travelogue is www.girlahead.com