“ Address: 1000 Yang Gao Road (N) / Shanghai, 200137 China / Telephone: 86-21-58621000 „
For people who have to travel for work, even if they end up in exotic locations like Shanghai, the place they have to stay can be either the bane or the blessing of their trip. My husband just came back from his second work trip to Shanghai where he stayed at the Crowne Plaza Pudong and thankfully for him, it was the latter. This is his review of this hotel, which I'm writing for (and with) him.
When you first enter a five star hotel, you often get a stuffy, perhaps snobbish feeling which makes you feel like if you're not getting out of a fancy car, then you're not welcome. There is no feeling like this here and all guests get a royal welcome, complete with the Chinese bows, smiles and protocol. The lobby, despite being big, manages to be cozy looking by using lots of reds and beige colours with plenty of comfortable couches and chairs. The reception staff are very efficient in general, if their English language skills are a bit on the uneven side. But if there was any kind of communication problem, he was always able to find someone who could understand him. What's more, when he came for the second time, he really felt like he was coming home. The staff recognized him, and greeted him like an old friend. Generally, in such a large hotel this doesn't happen that often - especially one that's as big as this one which has 400 rooms.
That brings us to the rooms themselves. My husband was put in a king-sized deluxe room which provided him with a king-sized bed, a large window (but no balcony), a large comfortable armchair with a footstool, and a desk area with its own Internet, a breakfront with a large television (probably 29") and a mini-bar with coffee and tea making facilities. Guests are provided free with 3 small bottles of mineral water, which is essential since you can't drink the tap water there. There's also plenty of closet space and inside the closet is an iron and ironing board as well as a safe and - strangely enough - bathroom scales! Why that was in the closet is unknown, or perhaps they didn't want you to easily discover how much you'd been overeating on your trip. They also provide you with a bathrobe and slippers. The former is always welcome but unfortunately, due to the small size of Chinese feet, the slippers were woefully small for my husband's western sized feet. No matter - maybe next time he'll bring a pair back for my little tootsies! By the way, if the pillows on the bed aren't comfortable enough, there is a "pillow menu" where you can order whatever type pillow you want, free of charge. Very cool!
The bathroom was absolutely fabulous. There's both a bathtub as well as a shower stall, and lots and lots of really big towels - none of those postage stamp things, and they're placed everywhere around the large room. In addition to the full sized mirror, they've also provided you with a magnifying mirror that retracts from the wall - something us women adore having for putting on make-up, but men can use for shaving. There are two drawers in here - which is often missing in most hotel bathrooms. One drawer has the hair dryer but the other is empty so you don't have to leave all your stuff out. The toiletries they provided you with are of course the standard shampoo and soap, they also leave you toothbrushes, a shoe shining kit and a note telling you to call if you need anything else. The best thing is their soap which is a small, very grainy, greenish-brown bar that looks like something you might find in a Lush shop. It smells like it has aloe vera in it and seems to have a very abrasive effect for ridding you of the bad effects of this very polluted city. My husband has very oily skin and this was a real boon for him since he didn't have an extra bar of his Lush Coal Face to bring with him. If we could read Chinese we would run out and buy lots of these bars!
The rooms are furnished in a mostly western style but with Chinese highlights such as prints hung on the walls or the brass handles of the wardrobe and breakfront. The room has thick carpeting, and the colours are much the same as the lobby with its dark reds and beiges. This makes the room feel as warm and inviting as the entrance. The bathroom is all in beige marble with a choice of strong as well as subtle lighting so you can see well enough to shave but also not be blinded if you need to use the facilities in the middle of the night. Of course, the cleaning staff take good care of all this and everything looks very well kept up.
Breakfast was included in his package and although the hotel was at close to full capacity, he never felt like he was crowded in their breakfast room. The breakfast selection was wide including an omelet/egg section with lots of other warm things that also had Chinese dishes which he isn't qualified to discuss as he wasn't adventurous enough to try them at breakfast (but he did elsewhere, at other meals). During his first stay their coffee service wasn't very good but seemed to be better on his second stay, which means they care and listen to their customers. The only thing he was disappointed by was a lack of fresh fruit, but after he asked for it, he got it, but only on request. He also had a lunch in this same restaurant which was also buffet style and had both western and Chinese foods available, all of which he says was delicious (and hard to decide which to choose).
As for other dining facilities, they have a traditional Chinese restaurant (which he didn't try) and there's a Japanese restaurant (yes, the Chinese love Japanese food) in the hotel, of the kind that has hotplates where they cook the food in front of you. This he highly recommends if you have the time, since everything there is done in a very leisurely fashion, but worth the wait since it was delicious. There's also a bar which is very comfortable but he found the live entertainment to be too loud and that made making conversation very difficult.
My husband availed himself of the fitness centre which he found to be very well equipped and each of the machines has their own TV with headphones so you can block others out. Apparently, the Chinese have a tendency to put their volume up quite high and this is one way to avoid that. There's also a pool which was on the cold side, but could be nice in the hotter months. He didn't visit the spa but his friends thought it very nice.
The biggest drawback of this hotel is that for most tourists, you'll find this a bit far away from the attractions - being a 40 minute drive out of town, but located in the free trade zone. This means it caters more to business customers than tourists, and is half way between Shanghai's two airports (about 45 minutes to either, in low traffic). To compensate for this, they have free shuttle busses that go round-trip into the city and tourist areas, as well as the hot shopping areas. If you miss one of these, the hotel is close to a metro station that can take you into town, and the tickets are extremely reasonably priced.
Because this hotel is located where it is, the staff and management seem to go out of their way to make your stay here as comfortable and convenient as possible. For instance, my husband saw lots of airline flight crews staying there despite the distance from the airport. Catering to mostly business customers with all the normal facilities, this hotel can really help you feel relaxed and welcome after a long day's work with your less than calm Chinese colleagues! With very few drawbacks and knowing that requests and comments are taken seriously, my husband wants to highly recommend this hotel and give it a full five stars out of five - despite the location, since the atmosphere makes up for that.
Thanks for reading!
Davida (and Alon) Chazan © April 2008
You can find this hotel through www.CrownePlaza.com
Since my husband went there for business, he paid a special corporate rate for his fairly fancy room. Regular prices from their web site range from £50 (very reasonable) up to £140 for a suite - which also doesn't seem to be that expensive, for what you're getting!