An Architecture Lover’s Guide to Selecting a Hotel in Shanghai

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Curated By

Laura Vander Neut

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An Architecture Lover’s Guide to Selecting a Hotel in Shanghai
Curator’s statement

From the futuristic skyline of the Pudong district to the French colonial charm of the Bund to Old City, Shanghai embodies a blend of distinct styles. The City’s hotel scene is no different. From sleek and modern to colonial elegance, or even traditional Chinese-style lodgings, there's a hotel in Shanghai to match every traveler's taste and style. This guide also provides recommendations on Shanghai’s top sites and activities.

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Where to stay


Where ancient heritage meets contemporary elegance, offering a tranquil oasis amidst restored Ming and Qing dynasty villas in the heart of nature.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Waldorf Astoria Shanghai

A treat of heritage design one block from the famous Bund, stay here for the classic style, top-notch service and Huangpu River views.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Grand Hyatt Shanghai

Elegant property located in the 88-story Jin Mao Tower with swanky rooms and suites.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in whenever possible.

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Best Traditional Chinese Hotel in Shanghai: Amanyangyun

If you’re looking to fully immerse yourself in traditional Chinese architecture, look no further than Amanyangyun. Located south of central Shanghai, the property’s setting within a peaceful forest, its tranquil courtyards, and outdoor water features are a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai. The 13 Qing and Ming dynasty villas are the star of this hotel, and have been carefully relocated and restored. Buildings are arranged to evoke a rural village feel, adding to the ambiance of the property. Each stay at Amanyangyun includes an experience in the property’s cultural center, Nan Shufang, which allows guests to delve into Chinese cultural traditions such as tea service or calligraphy. Amanyangyun is highly recommended if you are looking for a stay that provides a balance to the fast-paced energy of Shanghai.

Best French Colonial Hotel in Shanghai: Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund

The Waldorf Astoria is housed in the historic Shanghai Club building, built in 1910. The hotel is located on the Bund, immediately adjacent to the Huangpu River and offering spectacular views of the Pudong District’s iconic skyline. This location provides the opportunity for strolls along the Bund and easy access to other top Shanghai sites, such as Yu Garden and the Shanghai Museum. The hotel’s interior boasts a design that is both traditional and luxe, complimenting its colonial architecture. This hotel fits the bill if you are seeking a hotel with great views, convenient location, and all the luxury you would expect from the Waldorf Astoria brand.

Best Modern Chic Hotel in Shanghai: Grand Hyatt Shanghai

Occupying the top floors of the 88-story Jin Mao Tower in the Pudong District, a stay at the Grand Hyatt Shanghai means you not only get to enjoy the view but be part of the view. At this height, you have the privilege of looking down on many buildings that are skyscrapers in their own right. The hotel’s 33-story central atrium adds to the “wow” factor of this special hotel. Even if you don’t stay at the Grand Hyatt, dinner and drinks in Cloud 9, the hotel’s 87th floor restaurant and bar, would be an unforgettable experience.

Top Shanghai Sites

Yu Garden – Located in Old City, Yu Garden dates back to the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century and is one of the most popular sites in Shanghai. Even with the crowds, it is impossible not to enjoy the tranquil setting and the beauty of the traditional wood and stone carving. Tip: Yu Garden and the surrounding area can be extremely crowded, and visitors should take extra care of their possessions to avoid being the victim of theft.

Xintiandi – Xintiandi is a lovely business district set in restored early 20th century stone buildings. The pedestrian streets are a welcome break from the traffic and honking present in so much of Shanghai. The stone buildings in this area are a wonderful mix of eastern and western architecture. This district is a great area to stop for a meal as there are many great restaurants to choose from.

Shanghai Museum – This museum is worth a stop with galleries dedicated to Chinese ceramics, sculptures and jade. We particularly enjoyed the Chinese Minority Nationalities Art Gallery which presents traditional clothing and textiles from minority ethnicities throughout China.

World Financial Center Observation Deck – Upon completion, the Shanghai WFC was the second tallest building in the world and remains the second tallest building in Shanghai. Entry to the observation deck includes stops at three upper stories (90th, 94th, and 100th) and offers spectacular 360-degree views of Shanghai. Tip: Plan on arriving to the observation deck a bit before sunset so you can watch the city light up from above!

Day Trip to Suzhou – If time allows, the 1.5-hour drive to Suzhou is worth the trip! Suzhou has a romantic feel as you take in picturesque views along the canals. A highlight of our trip to Suzhou was watching couples taking wedding photos on the many bridges crossing the canals.

Need to Know

Shanghai is the most opulent city in mainland China and is a must-visit on any China itinerary. Shanghai’s sites and hotel offerings give visitors a sense of its history, from imperial to colonial to modern. Contact me to plan your Shanghai adventure!

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Asia. In need of further inspiration? Check out Judy & Glenn Tudor’s trip report, Best New Four Seasons Tokyo Hotel.

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Travel Advisor

Laura Vander Neut

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