Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Waterhouse at South Bund: Savoring Shanghai

After Mongolia, I had a short visit in Shanghai, which excited me more than the nomad country. It's been 4 years since I visited Shanghai, so this trip I knew must be memorable. And even though it was a 4 day trip only, I decided to change accommodations every night! My first hotel was one of my most anticipated ones, considering it was a member of the Design Hotels group. Also, it was owned by Singapore's famous hotelier, Loh Lik Peng, who conceived New Majestic. Recipient of a T+L Design Award and landing in the Conde Naste Hot List, this hotel is surely making waves.


The Waterhouse at South Bund looks nothing like any hotel you've been to. Upon seeing the building's facade, you'll know you're in for a treat.


My luggage as left behind in Seoul as I dashed to my connection there. Hence, I arrived in the hotel with only my hand carry. The hotel noticed my lone bag, and intuitively asked if I had lost my luggage. I explained what happened and they asked only for the number of the airline. Then, their magic words, "Don't worry, we will handle everything for you."


At that moment, my stress really disappeared, and I was again lured to the surroundings that kept my eye wide open in front of my camera. The design of this hotel was amazing, considering it was inside a 1930s warehouse. Mismatched, modern and very very chic. Stylish and not entirely boutique cheap. 


The hotel has that unfinished look: exposed bricks, broken plaster walls, and splotchy concrete stairwells. Juxtapose this with glossy wooden floors, tall glass windows, and lots of modern furniture and you get a unique design hotel.


I was only in the lobby, and I couldn't stop taking pictures. I was led to my room, which my attendant said was one of the best suites. Yes, I was upgraded once again, probably because they knew I was stressed over my lost luggage. I entered the room with a gasp of disbelief. 


This post-industrial chic hotel had 19 rooms and went up to 5 floors only. I took a short elevator ride to the 2nd floor, crossed a "bridge" and landed in front of a wooden door.


As soon as the attendant opened the door, my legs felt frozen. This is one of the most beautifully designed rooms I have seen. And to qualify that, I am not a big fan of hotel chain rooms. The room hit my aesthetic bulls eye. 


I guess I took a picture of my room from every angle, capturing every detail as well. I even skyped my friends just to show them how wonderful my room was (and to make them envious).


The room came with a free mini bar and snacks, restocked every day. There were several stuff to read on, guides on Shanghai. I even discovered that I had a balcony, that had a corner street view. I really couldn't ask for more.


Of course, I knew about the hotel's amenities, and even though it didn't have a pool, there was a riverside clubhouse with these normal hotel amenities which you use. After surveying and savoring the room, I decided to go up to the room deck, which was also a popular spot amongst the social set of Shanghai.



And I wouldn't wonder why. It had stunning views of the Huangpu river and the amazing Pudong skyline. Just imagine having a cocktail here during sunset with close friends. Too bad I was alone. So, instead of socializing, I had a hot cup of coffee and watched boats glide down the river.


Finally, another highlight of this much raved hotel is its restaurant, Table No. 1. Helmed by Gordon Ramsey's apprentice, Jason Atherton from Maze in London, this foodie hotspot has become a destination in itself. 


Long tables encourage communal dining, something families and friends would appreciate. Dishes come in sharing portions so guests can enjoy an informal dining experience and yet, still feel classy and sophisticated. I love tasting menus because you can sample more of the chef's creations.


I decided to explore the neighborhood, which was small and not really a tourist center. There were no nearby convenient stores. However, just across from the Waterhouse was the Cool Docks, which housed several restaurants. 


I actually felt I was in Europe and not in Shanghai. I was actually surprised to see this just beside my hotel. It wasn't full of people as well. Most of the patrons were locals having coffee or just lounging around on a lazy Saturday afternoon.



Easily, the Waterhouse at South Bund is one of my favorite hotels in the world. I am a sucker for design hotels. But this one takes the cake in everything, from the atmosphere to the amenities (less the pool) and reliable and friendly service. It even has Table No. 1 where breakfast is also served. 



I highly recommend The Waterhouse at South Bund. I am now indeed a fan of this hotel group by Loh Lik Peng. I hope they open more quirky, stylish and innovative hotel concepts in the future. For now, let me reminisce my unforgettable stay at the Waterhouse.


***

The Waterhouse at South Bund
Address: 1-3 Maojiayuan Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai, China
+86 21 6080 2988

Ambience: 4.5
Rooms: 5
Service: 3
Facilities: 3.5
Dining: 4.5
Over-all Experience: 4.5
IE Score: 4.17 (Excellent)






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