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Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai 

20 Nanjing Road E.
China 200002
Tel: 86 21 6321 6888
view web site ›'s insider take:

Reopened in 2010 after a three-year makeover, Shanghai's 80-year-old grande dame has been restored to its 1930s glory days, when it hosted the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Noël Coward. The 270-room Art Deco icon topped with a green copper dome sits at Shanghai's busiest intersection, where Nanjing Road meets the Bund. The dim, amber-lit lobby with heavy carved woods and deep-mottled marbles strikes a dramatic note in keeping with the hotel's august stature—although the guards at the door and hotel staff patrolling the lobby to stop visitors from posing for pictures takes the respect for the property a bit far. The decor lightens up in the guest rooms, which are decorated in soft gold and lilac and newly fitted with high-tech conveniences such as Wi-Fi, MP3 docks, and bath-side TVs. Among the six restaurants and bars, Dragon Phoenix offers Cantonese dining in a whimsical, Forbidden City-esque setting, and the Jazz Bar features nightly performances by the hotel's famous octogenarian jazz band. The Jasmine Lounge, in the lobby, is a popular spot for smart high teas. History buffs looking for remnants of the '30s should visit the Peace Hall, with its sprung maple dance floor and Lalique glass, and the Peace Museum, where longtime director Martin Ma (who has worked at the hotel for more than 40 years) will share lots of colorful stories and memorabilia.—Amy Fabris-Shi

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
This resplendent Art Deco hotel had a comeback once before, when it reopened after the Cultural Revolution. That was then. Now, after a $64 million renovation, the 1929 landmark at the base of Nanjing Road East has staged a truly auspicious unveiling, hewing closely—almost too closely, given the building's heavy Gothic feel—to the original decor. With the help of Shanghai architectural historian Peter Hibbard, builders restored the lobby's stained glass skylight, long hidden by a false ceiling, and brought the ornate ballroom (with its famous sprung-wooden dance floor) and kitsch Dragon Phoenix restaurant back to life. Though the end result is a tad gloomy, the 270-room hotel is nevertheless a grand celebration of Shanghai's colonial-era style. Rooms are small but comfortable. The olive-green velvet upholstery contrasts nicely with purple-and-gold carpets. Bathrooms have Deco mirrors and fixtures. The Cathay Room serves Western food and has a balcony that looks out on the Bund. In general, staff are professional but stiff. Still, this is a truly historic and distinguished hotel, and you can quite easily imagine its glory days when Charlie Chaplin visited, tea dances sold out months in advance, and Noël Coward penned Private Lives there. —2011 Hot List

Which room to book: Suite 320, with its separate dining room, living room, and bedroom, all looking out on the Huangpu River and the Bund.

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