High Time

28th June 2009 (Last Updated June 28th, 2009 18:30)

The Park Hyatt Shanghai is the tallest hotel in the world, an accolade upon which it capitalises with floor-to-ceiling windows in every room. Lucinda Baring overcomes her vertigo to explore Shanghai's newest landmark.

High Time

The new Park Hyatt Hotel is not only the most exclusive address in Shanghai, it is also the highest – and not just in Shanghai, but in the world. The hotel is 600ft in the air atop the new World Financial Center, a vertiginous tower shaped like a bottle opener that dwarfs the Pudong’s multitude of skyscrapers and is visible from anywhere in the city.

The Park Hyatt has a separate entrance from the rest of the building, with a marble lobby and lifts that skyrocket you 356ft up to the lobby on the 87th floor. Here you are confronted by the hotel’s defining characteristics – glass, light and, most importantly, the view.

“You are confronted by the hotel’s defining characteristics – glass, light and, most importantly, the view.”

As the lobby opens into the Living Room, the most relaxed of the Park Hyatt’s three restaurants, the whole city lies before your eyes. This is the hotel’s ultimate USP: each room, from the 137 bedrooms to the treatment areas in the spa, has floor-to-ceiling windows allowing guests to capitalise on an unparalleled 360˚ vista of Shanghai.

Whether it’s Pudong, the Yangtze River or the seemingly short Jin Mao or Sky Pearl towers, you can see it all from a new vantage point.

The rooms are grand and chic without being imposing. They are decorated in dark wood, have huge beds and bathrooms and black-out blinds, blocking out the noise of the heaving, congested city below.

The windows span the entire length of the room and despite worries about vertigo, it’s surprising how quickly you adjust to the height. The bathrooms are divided in two by glass doors, creating a huge wet room on one side with an overflowing infinity bath and magnificent shower – the design is such that you can turn it into a private steam room by leaving the bath taps and shower running, though the water wastage might weigh on your conscience.

Each of the communal spaces is different and none is too big or chain-like in any respect. The smallest, the Living Room, is the cosiest, with pale-blue sofas and armchairs, and a more informal menu, while the duskier bar and Dining Room is divided into booths for an intimate candlelit dinner.

Upstairs on the 90th and 91st floors, 100 Century Avenue is a buzzing and vibrant restaurant with two bars that is the talk of the town. This is without doubt where Shanghai’s glitterati come to hang out.

“This is without doubt where Shanghai’s glitterati come to hang out.”

The ambience is fun and seductive with subtle lighting reflecting off the glass of the 25m high windows. But the chic décor and energetic atmosphere come by no means at the expense of the food.

There are two open kitchens, one western and one Chinese, a sushi bar offering 40 types of fish, a seafood counter, a charcuterie and a patisserie.

“100 Century Avenue is like an orchestra,” says 39-year-old chef Jack Wetzel, “and I’m the conductor. My job is to get everyone to play together.”

And there’s plenty to wash it down with too: the wine list offers 700 labels and 20 cocktails.

Don’t forget to save time for the spa – you’ll be hard pushed to find an infinity pool that surpasses this one. Many of the massages are based on traditional Chinese healing methods and an early morning tai chi class is a great way to start the day, which explains why you can see people practising it in the scarce green spaces across Shanghai.

All this considered it’s no wonder the general manager wants to retire here.

Christophe Sadones was born in what is often considered the world’s most glamorous town – Monte Carlo – and has travelled the world, but from now on, he says, “it’s only Shanghai”. It’s easy to see why.

Shanghai top things to do

Do

  • A city tour of Shanghai
  • A cruise on the Huangpu River
  • Shopping for antiques in Dongtai Road, Fangbang Road and Duolun Road or have clothes made by the hotel tailor

See

  • A traditional Chinese acrobatic show

Visit

  • The bird and insect market on Xizang Road, followed by the flower shops on Xiangyang Road

Out of town

  • Take city tours of Zhouzhuang, Suzhou, and Hangzhou and its Double Bridge, Six Harmonies Pagoda, Silk Mill and boat trips across the West Lake and the Bai and Su causeways

Cocktails

  • Aside from 100 Century Avenue, Glamour Bar is the hottest spot in town

Eat

  • At a traditional tea house – try Mid-Lake Pavilion Tea House or Gu Yuan Tea House for tea and dim sum
  • Have dinner at T8, a 1920s Shikumen house in Xintiandi
  • Or at Jean Georges, the Shanghai outpost of Jean-George Vongerichten’s trendy group of restaurants that include New York’s Mercer Kitchen, Spice Market and Vong