A creation of glass and steel, the Wanda Reign on the Bund, China’s first seven-star hotel, adds sparkle to the well-known Shanghai promenade.
But it is the hotel interiors that truly amaze. Think all-out Art Deco glamour topped with oriental opulence — oceans of marble floors and walls, rivers of inlaid jade, waves of geometric prints and towering 10m-high bronze columns.
If the inflated hotel rating is to be taken seriously, Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s latest offering seeks to establish a level beyond luxury. The property tycoon’s Wanda Hotels & Resorts has opened more than 100 outfits in the past five years. Wanda Reign on the Bund, the group’s ultra-luxe Shanghai flagship, took three years, and half-a-billion dollars, to build.
Much of that went into commissioning dozens of quirky sculptures, avant-garde paintings and murals, displayed across the indoor and outdoor spaces. Wang is known as an art connoisseur and supporter of Chinese contemporary culture. The experience begins when you step into the palatial lobby, dominated by the Splendid Orient, an enormous impressionist painting of Shanghai by contemporary artist Shi Qi. The custom masterpiece showcases an abstract expression of the vibrant and modern metropolis, which has gone through a great socio-economic metamorphosis over the last two decades.
Many of the hotel rooms overlook the city’s evolving skyline, plus tinier art pieces. We stayed in a corner room with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Bund, Huangpu River and the modern Pudong district — with the kitschy Oriental Pearl Tower in plain sight. An Ogawa massage chair, a rare hotel amenity, is placed beside the window, encouraging maximum use. Delicate silk-embroidered magnolia motifs over the bed, plus amber-coloured rhinestones, 3D mosaic tiling and a gold claw-foot tub in the bathroom illustrate the room’s flamboyant intent.
Cutting-edge technology is ubiquitous. Peepholes are swapped with convenient digital screens to show a live feed of whose waiting at the door and iPad smart controls replace the use of buttons and knobs for curtains, lightings and temperature settings.
Out of the hotel’s five dining marquees, we opted for the fifth-level He Japanese restaurant. Open only at night, we suggest sitting at the sleek bar as Tokyo-native chef Kikuchi Yoshiyuki will offer you his specially concocted and very potent shochu to pair with omakase-style dishes and Edomae sushi.
Head to the rooftop bar Marc after dinner and toast Shanghai’s high life with an array of speciality cocktails. When it’s finally time to leave, the hotel’s chauffeured Rolls-Royce Phantom, supposedly owned by Wang himself, is available to see you to the airport in style.