Shanghai – a metropolis who name means “above the sea,” is a port city on the Huangpu River where the Yangtze flows into the East China Sea, and is the largest and wealthiest metropolis in China. The Shanghainese, in their efficiency and progress, have molded this previously uninspiring fishing and textiles town into a fashion, design, and artistic Asian trendsetter in an attempt to rival Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, and Kuala Lampur. Shanghai flourished as a commercial and financial hub during the tumultuous 1920s and 30s, becoming a cosmopolitan city, named the “Paris of the East.” During the 1990s, Shanghai became the focal point of China’s economic reforms, resulting in a skyline resembling an otherworldly city of the future. With Shanghai’s impressive growth, perhaps it does not come as a surprise that the Formula 1 has continued to give the city a spot on its Grand Prix calendar; the Shanghai International Circuit coming alive with the shouts of thousands of spectators on April 9, 2017.
But for many visitors coming to enjoy the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, the country’s largest city is not just a stop on the annual racing calendar, but a perfect place for fans to enjoy themselves off the track. Boasting many restaurants, entertainment centers, and cultural sites, even the most discerning tourist can find luxurious accommodations that rival any Western city. For such a traveler, the five-star luxury Langham Hotel in the Xiantiandi district has been, since its debut on October 15, 2010, the perfect getaway from the track.
The Langham is forty minutes away from the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and offers patrons the chance to arrive in style, with a limousine transfer by either a Mercedes Benz E300 or a BMW523 being easily arranged. Hotel suite and club guests can also reserve a Langham Pink Taxi for commuting within five kilometers. Xiantiandi, or “New Heaven and Earth” was designed to be car-free and is currently the most exclusive place to live in the whole country. Xiantiandi is not only an oasis of urban greenery, but possesses a wide assortment of restaurants, galleries, bars, cafes and nightclubs, all the while preserving the historic Shikumen houses. Adjacent from the district, Huai Hai Road, long christened as the Champs Elysees of the East, is the perfect place to indulge in a shopping spree.
The Langham Shanghai, Xintiandi boasts 357 elegant rooms, including 41 suites, spread over 28 floors, all of which are designed with charming yet practical touches that have been a hallmark of The Langham Hospitality Group since 1865. The overall design of the concave 100-metre hotel was a collaborative effort between the international hospitality interior designer Peter Remedios and New York-based Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF). In designing the interior of the Langham’s reception area, Remedios combined dark local granite for the flooring and walls with green glass details and Art Deco designs. Laser cut horse motifs, an important symbol in Han Chinese culture, were incorporated into the lobby columns in an effort to pay homage to Shanghai’s historic architecture. Han cultural influences can be felt in all the hotel’s rooms, successfully integrating The Langham with the identity of the adjoining neighborhood. Walls are covered in rich leather inlaid with a geometric stitched-on pattern reminiscent of the exterior, whereas floors are covered in green and gold wool carpets featuring Han-inspired paisley-like motifs. The curvature of the tower and unconventional wall treatments create distinctive window configurations producing a variety of city views.
The most impressive accommodations available at The Langham are the Presidential and Chairman Suites. Words cannot describe the grandiosity accorded to clients as both the builders and designers of The Langham have truly outdone themselves. Both suites are on the 28th floor, with the Presidential spread over 1,940 square feet and the Chairman being nearly double that at 3,715 square feet. The suites come with a mezzanine overlooking a spacious common area, an extensive kitchen, and a private sky garden and outdoor spa, overlooking the Historic Shikumen Buildings of Xiantiandi. Though both suites may be similar in design, the Chairman is truly superior as it includes twice-daily housekeeping, a 24-hour butler, in-room dining, and access to the exclusive Langham Club, which will pamper anyone with the ultimate in modern conveniences and attentive service.
Situated on the 27th floor, The Langham Club is a haven for anyone looking to relax with cocktails after a long day at the track. Patrons can order breakfast in the morning, sit down for a quick power lunch, enjoy afternoon tea, or sip cocktails at the bar, all the while having access to pressing services for their garments along with access to boardrooms. If you choose not to spend time getting lost in conversation while admiring the Shanghai skyline, T’ang Court, might be more to your liking. Though the hotel offers a good choice of restaurants and bars, the Cantonese dishes at T’ang Court are sure to spoil the senses of even the most well-traveled foodie.
Immersed in an elegant decor evoking the timeless grandeur of the Tang dynasty, China’s golden age, guests to T’ang Court are served in one of nine separate dining rooms or an intimate dining hall. Diners can choose from two daily eight-course lunch menus and a choice of four eight-course dinner menus, all of which are divided into appetizers, barbecued meats, seasonal soups, live sea food, bird’s nest, abalone and sea cucumber, premium meats and poultry dishes, rice and noodles, along with vegetarian options.
A venerable Bacchanalian experience awaits any guest to T’ang Court. Diners are encouraged to try the T’ang Court appetizer, a trio of bite-sized creations such as roasted suckling pig, marinated green beans with black fungus, and glazed kumquat stuffed with sweet-sour pork. If soup is more to your liking, then the double-boiled fish maw soup with sea whelk is sure to be delightful. If you desire a more succulent meal, T’ang Court offers renowned dishes courtesy of famed Hong Kong Master Chef Kwong such as stir-fried fresh red lobster with spring onions, red onions and shallots or the sliced grouper with fish maw, preserved vegetables and tomatoes in fish soup. Your dining experience will be enhanced with a rich range of new and old world wines recommended by the sommelier, with a focus on medium-bodied, fruity wines, such as Loire Valley, Burgundy and Rioja, which enhance the flavors of Cantonese cuisine. After a meal, guests are encouraged to try the almond tofu pudding with mango sauce and baked preserved yolk pastry.
Guests of The Langham can also pamper themselves at the Chuan Spa, the hotel’s signature spa which bases its treatments on the healing properties of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), or exercise at the 24-hour Fitness Center before relaxing in the indoor pool.
Racing fans visiting Shanghai for the Formula 1 Grand Prix will not regret choosing to stay at The Langham in Xiantiandi. The luxury of the hotel is bound to please even the most discerning traveler while the fine Cantonese cuisine at the award-winning T’ang Court is sure to make a big impression on any gourmand.