“ 4-star hotel in Shanghai, China. „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Where is the Renaissance Shanghai Yu Garden Hotel?
This attractive 4 star hotel belongs to the Marriot chain of hotels, located on South He Nan Road in the Huangpu district of Shanghai. The location is excellent near to the Yu Yuan Metro stop and within walking distance of the Old Town and Yu Yuan Gardens & Bazaar. There are lots of small streets hidden away off the main artery which are really fascinating with street stalls, shops selling anything from silk, musical instruments, pans, steamers, buttons, and lace, all sorts of weird and wonderful objects. The Bund and water front is only about 30 minutes away; one of the top attractions of Shanghai.
Arrival at the hotel was a blessing. We were exhausted and overheated; all we could think about was having a shower. Our hosts had a different idea. They had ordered lunch and wanted us to go to the restaurant to eat. We really didn't want any food seeing that we had been eating all the time on the plane but we didn't want to sound ungrateful so managed to persuade both of them to wait in the lounge while we went upstairs for a quick shower. They agreed and went to check us in which was a nice gesture. The reception desk is based in the lounge, a long desk attended by 4 or 5 efficient Chinese staff. Passports had to be handed over and checked and my husband was then called over to sign a form displaying all our details and the reason for coming to China.
Our room on the 18th floor
We both liked the look of the hotel immediately. It's rated as a 4**** and think this is a true rating. Our assigned room was on the 18th floor which is reached by a black and chrome lift. You have to insert a key card as you enter the lift before you press the floor number. I loved the lifts in this hotel; they were spanking new, speedy and smooth. We reached our floor in no time.
As usual the door to our room didn't open at first not because the key card was faulty, our technique was wrong. Over the years I have realised that there definitely is a technique to using these cards. The gentler you place the card into the slot the better results you get.
The design of the room was contemporary mixed with a touch of Chinese retro Art Deco. I particularly liked the lacquered cupboard which the flat screen TV stood on with its glass and chrome windows. What was a bit off putting was the large transparent glass panel between the bathroom and sleeping area. Luckily, we could close the venetian blinds. Whilst I am all for walking around skimpily dressed in such humidity I am not sure I wish my husband to view me seated on the loo at 7am. Once the blinds were closed I felt much more relaxed.
We had a very large double bed with a medium to hard mattress and six pillows in total; three giant sized, displayed upright on the cream padded leather backdrop followed by three smaller in the front. The first evening we threw four out on to the jazzy turquoise carpet although half way through the night I did reach out for an extra pillow so I could make myself comfortable. We set the air conditioning on low to cool the room down but the blowing noise got on our nerves in the end so we left it at room temperature. I had only been in bed five minutes when I had to kick off the duvet. It was too thick and warm. A linen sheet was adequate and this is all I had on the bed every night of our stay.
As my husband had to do some written preparation for his conferences he was grateful for the use of a desk with telephone, reading lamp and super fast internet connection. He was pleased with the cream leather chair too. My writing area was opposite his desk, a blue velvet chaise longue with two colourful cushions and a small marble table facing the window. The view from the window was spectacular; I could see the Bund Centre, Westin Hotel and other amazing skyscrapers. This was my cosy corner and I was very happy lying here with my notebook perched on my knee writing up my adventures of the day. I loved the view of the futuristic buildings especially about 4pm when the sun eventually peeped through the grey clouds leaving amber shadows on the tower tops.
The bathroom was very smart and a good size. There was a large standing bath with a mat so you didn't slip and bang your head, an enclosed shower unit with two shower heads, one the size of a sunflower and the other a normal size. The taps were contemporary and very shiny; they looked brand new as did all the fittings. In the shower there was one central device which turned both shower heads on. You pressed the device forward for the large head and backward for the small head. I don't think my husband ever did work out how to use the large showerhead; he's not the most practical of guys.
Underneath the square wash basin was a bamboo coloured unit with two drawers, one contained a hair-dryer placed in a velvet bag and in the other was a selection of toiletries included a dental kit, bath salts, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, shower cap, vanity kit, mouthwash, hand and body cream. Two large, very soft, white towels, two medium and two small were rolled up and placed in the middle section of the unit. Good job there was a leather bound tissue box with tissues in as my husband had a stinker of a cold during our stay. There was also two chunky glasses with two medium sized bottles of mineral water. Also, nice to see a spare toilet roll just in case of any upset tummies.
Tea, coffee, drinks
If you are the kind of person who likes a cup of tea or coffee as soon as you wake up then you will be pleased to know that there was a two door cupboard at the back of the desk which had two drawers containing tea, coffee, jasmine tea, sugar, brown sugar and powdered cream. I'm not a fan of powdered milk or creams but I did use some sachets and it was okay. A funky kettle, coffee percolator, ice bucket, glasses and cups are also tucked away in the cupboard as well as a bottle of Berringer red wine from the Napa Valley in California. The price of this will knock you back 150CNY (£15). A litre bottle of Evian mineral water costs 80CNY (£8.50) which is expensive. It is much cheaper to buy a bottle from a local shop. We did look in the fridge but weren't tempted as the prices of beer were too expensive at 35CNY (£3.50) for a piddling can of local beer. I found a shop that charged only 5RCNY (50p) so I used to smuggle a few cans in every night.
The dining room or main restaurant is called the Yu Garden Café and is on lobby level, open from 6am until midnight daily. The lobby/lounge area is the place to sit and have a pre-dinner drink; a luxurious lounge with a bar and some very abstract ornamental features. There is also a wonderful view of the back of the Yu Garden bazaar with its Ming style architecture. At night when all the curly roofs are lit up it is pretty outstanding and a view I'll remember for a long time to come.
The Restaurant is a pretty funky place and I fell in love with it from the first time we sat down for lunch after our shower on the first day. It has a real 80s feel to it with orange and yellow plastic cylindrical lights decorating the central aisle where food is displayed. There is an L shaped fruit section where you will find bananas, kiwi fruit, water melon and freshly squeezed juices. Another section displays cheeses, hams and also a sushi section. Cross over the other side of the restaurant and you come to the main cooking area, a very attractive area with a green backdrop where shelves of jars containing spices and herbs are displayed. Three or four chefs are always doing something whether it is making noodles, preparing curries or cooking scintillating dishes like shrimp a la Shanghai, sweet and sour Mandarin fish, black bean chicken etc. You can choose from the buffet selection or à la carte menu but I think the buffet is better value and obviously you can mix hot and cold dishes and eat as much as you wish. I did try a couple of meals from the à la carte, they were okay but the portions were small and sometimes the vegetables weren't cooked enough. If you choose the buffet selection in the evening a prepared drink is included in the price; a liqueur with coconut milk served in a coconut shell. One evening we sat down to eat the buffet and fancied a bottle of wine. It was a bit of a drama as the young waiter on duty wasn't sure if we were allowed to have a bottle of wine because we were meant to have the coconut drink. In the end the head waiter said it was okay but they looked a bit baffled. I would say that most of the Chinese people I met during my stay didn't drink a lot of alcohol and certainly not wine.
This is the same room used for breakfast and generally a buffet is displayed from 6am and replenished up until 2pm in the afternoon. Breakfast choices were very good, there was a section serving croissants, different breads, cakes, cereals and shrimp patties. These were gorgeous, the pastry was soft and really did melt in your mouth and at the same time you got a kick of shrimp. I had to have one of these every morning. There is a cooked breakfast section for international guests. Here you can choose eggs, bacon, hash browns, mushrooms, baked beans. All the ingredients used in a typically English fry up. I didn't try the cooked breakfast as I didn't like the look of the bacon; it was dried up and glistened with oil. Overall, I would say there is a great choice of food on both menus but the food is only mediocre in taste but beautifully presented.
The waiting staff were very nice, courteous, very good at organising guests so they find the correct seats within minutes of entering the restaurant. We were treated well at this hotel and it seemed nothing was too much trouble. Most of the staff could speak a little English but only phrases they had learnt. As soon as you entered into conversation they looked baffled. However, they all tried very hard and I could see they were pleased to communicate and wanted to speak English so much.
Every night and sometimes in the morning at breakfast the manager of the hotel would walk around the restaurant and have a little chat with guests. He was a lovely man who was originally from Hong Kong. He always looked interested in what people had to say, he wasn't just making conversation because it was his job. I became quite friendly with some of the waiters and waitresses; they were so accommodating and chatty. I felt quite sad on our last evening so asked if I could take photos of the restaurant and some of the people who had served us during the stay. I even gave one sweet girl a hug and a Polish goodbye kiss (3 kisses). In a well-known guide book I had read before going to China it stated that kissing and showing affection wasn't really acceptable in China. I found this to be not true as all the people I came into contact were very happy being hugged and not embarrassed at all.
There are three other restaurants in the hotel, Yu Sushi, Yu Bar and China Bistro. We didn't try any of these because we liked the atmosphere in the Yu Garden Café and felt relaxed there.
The Renaissance Yu Garden Hotel has top facilities like other international hotels; a business centre, fitness centre including swimming pool, 24 hour room service, navigator, club lounge, shoeshine, laundry services and even a pillow menu where you can choose your own favourite kind of pillow.
There are designated smoking areas within the hotel, if a guest is found smoking in an area where it isn't allowed there are charges applied to the equivalent of one night's stay.
In theory check out time is noon. We didn't have to leave for our flight until 4pm so we asked if we could leave the luggage somewhere and collect it just before leaving for the airport. Luckily, we were told that we didn't have to vacate the room and we could stay as long as we liked before our departure.
The hotel was booked by our business colleagues in Shanghai; they took care of all costs. We could have had full board if we wanted to. My husband did sometimes have lunch especially on the days he was running the conferences. I generally only had breakfast and evening meal with a couple of beers beforehand and we shared a bottle of wine with our evening meal. My husband asked his colleague the price of the room including all the extras. He said that it worked out about 110 pounds per night for both of us. I think that's an amazing price and extremely good value.
I loved this hotel, the location, restaurant, the room itself, and all the staff. I have never stayed anywhere where I have felt so relaxed and cared for. The views from the room and lounge are out of this world. I can't wait to go back in October.