The editors' favorite hotels and resorts of all time.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler
Set the scene.
Cross the Suzhou Creek, pass beneath the grand gateway that leads from the street to the old Chamber of Commerce building, through what appears to be a Roman triumphal arch, and into a gleaming 21st-century tower of steel and glass, brass and marble and bronze, all Bulgari-styled within an inch of its life. If you were not in Rome a moment ago, you are now, or as close as you can be, considering this is, after all, Shanghai. Feeling dizzy or disoriented? Take a seat, a restorative Negroni is on the way.
What’s the story?
For a resolutely Roman jewelry and luxury goods brand, Bulgari has proved exceptionally portable, with goodness knows how many hundreds of boutiques and concessions around the world these days. And six hotels to boot. This latest addition does not exactly mark a radical departure from those that came before it, but, like them, it does adapt to local conditions well and tailor the typically hard-edged, dark, woody, and rather masculine Bulgari-hotel aesthetic (Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel once again) accordingly.
What can we expect from our room?
They’re all about the views, which are, by and large, sensational. The Shanghai skyline, particularly—though not only—by night, is among the most dramatic in the world. Because of the shape and orientation of the building, however, there are a few duds. So be sure to ask for a room with a view across the Huangpu River to Pudong. It will cost you dearly, but it (the view, that is, not the bill) will probably be the thing you remember longest after your visit.
How about the food and drink?
You may quibble with the imported design sensibility. You would be mad, though, to quibble with the imported kitchen know-how. Whether you are nibbling a chocolate in the in-house sweet shop, lapping up a gelato on the terrace, snacking with an aperitivo in the bar, or feasting like a god in the restaurant, the Italian food here is the best in town. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, come for drinks and dinner.
Anything to say about the service?
Notably warm, enthusiastic, personalized, and respectful—a winning combination.
Who comes here?
First and foremost, the tribe of Bulgari. Lovers of the great Roman jewelry brand will see their own enthusiasms (and possibly their own jewelry) reflected at every turn and on every wall, for the place is practically covered with charming old advertising material—prints, photographs, and posters celebrating their particular version, colorful and carat-heavy, of la dolce vita.
What’s the neighborhood scene like?
The location is extremely interesting, as well as convenient. This section of the Suzhou Creek used to be a largely industrial neighborhood and, though it is changing quickly now, it retains some of the texture and tone of old Shanghai. Lots of hotels have sprung up in and around Shanghai recently—Capella, Edition, Middle House, and Amanyangyun—so there’s a lot of competition.
Anything you'd change?
Doubt it could be changed but would certainly like to ask Lord Foster, whose architectural firm was responsible for the main tower, why exactly they needed quite so many bits of steel running both horizontally and vertically across some of the upper-floor windows. I suppose he would say "to prevent the building from falling down" or something along those lines. But it seems a shame that, here and there, those splendid views have been partially obscured in this way.
And anything we missed?
The pool is a marvel. Natural light has been somehow directed down into the basement, to cast the pool in a gorgeous and serene emerald-green glow.
Is it worth it— why?
If you like your views as big and sparkly as your jewelry, then it is definitely worth it.