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The Day We Finally Set Foot in Andaz Shanghai

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  Site Where: 88 Songshan Road, Shanghai, China, 200021
May 24, 2012 at 9:39 AM | by | Comments (0)

You read that right: we finally - finally - were able to see Andaz Shanghai for ourselves. After pouring over some of the first details last summer, and getting seriously excited when we got our hands on a set of pictures around the opening in October, we couldn't leave Shanghai last week without seeing the hotel with our own eyes.

Set in trendy Xintiandi, Andaz Shanghai (Andaz means "personal style" in Urdu) will offer a total of just over 300 rooms when a final set of accommodations (including larger loft rooms and a number of suites) comes online later this year. You'll find a plethora of bars, restaurants, and shops in the revitalized (and mostly pedestrian) area just across the street from the hotel.

Following our visit, we strolled around the historic alleys and had lunch on one of the small squares; the striking architecture of the hotel and its next-door neighbor, The Langham, follows you as you turn a corner and they pop up above the traditional "shikumen" houses of old Shanghai that make up the district.

We really liked the atmosphere and would probably pick this more intimate, human-scaled location over the vertiginous high-rises of the Pudong business center, where we spent some time earlier in the week.

Back inside, we toured an Andaz King room with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Xintiandi, which was plenty spacious and featured lovely hardwood floors. We liked the contrast of the floors and crisp white sheets with the colorful Chinese fabric behind the bed. A round table with two chairs replaces the standard-issue hotel desk; built-in wardrobes and a flat-screen TV surrounded by local art complete the room. The frozen frame on the TV in the picture is from a short video about the hotel that you can watch here.

The bathroom is definitely a stand-out feature, with a wet area complete with rain-shower and bathtub which, synchronized with the translucent vanity, changes color at the touch of a button. It's blue! It's green! It's red! LED lights on the ceiling in the bedroom allow you to create a similar effect there.

Translucent is also the pool, which can be found along with the gym in the basement of the hotel. And yes, it was really as blue down there as it seems on the pictures. You can relax on one of the pool chairs or opt for seating at a small bar between the pool and the gym, which offers refreshments. A spa will be added one floor below.

When you've worked up an appetite, you have a couple of options. Restaurant Hai Pai on the ground floor serves Chinese and French cuisine, with distinct interior design in two areas to match your choice of food (but you can order anything from the menu in either section). If the weather suits, there is outside seating along the exterior of the restaurant and in the courtyard where the hotel tower and lower structure meet. One floor up from Hai Pai there are a few private dining areas, one complete with a sitting room and mah-jong table. A bar with roof terrace on the second floor is still in the works.

For something a little more sweet, Éclair patisserie serves - you guessed it - éclairs, and a variety of other treats. We can highly recommend the mango & passion fruit flavor. Drinks and food can be had in the lobby lounge as well, with additional seating upstairs inside the brushed steel "Egg" sculpture that juts out the front facade of the hotel.

True to the brand, you will have your personal Andaz host looking after you from the moment they greet you at the entrance of the hotel, combining the roles of doorman, receptionist, concierge, and bell attendant in one single contact that can provide you with the ins and outs of Shanghai. There are numerous touches around the hotel reflecting local heritage and culture, from hosts being clad in uniforms by Chinese designer Han Feng to an exhibition by emerging Chinese artists of "Chengyu", visualizing four character Chinese idioms on morality, life, and nature.

We're pretty taken with the stylish Andaz vibe; if you want to try it out yourself but Shanghai is not your regular stomping grounds, you can head to New York, California (Napa, San Diego, and LA), and Savannah, Georgia for a taste of Andaz. On the other side of the Atlantic, Amsterdam will soon join London as the brand's second European outpost. Set to open "mid 2012" on the city's Prinsengracht canal, we'll be sure to keep you posted on what Andaz with a Dutch twist will have in store for us.

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