Week in the Clouds: Park Hyatt Shanghai

Introduction
American Flagship Lounge New York, American Business Class New York to San Francisco
American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles, American Business Class Los Angeles to Shanghai
Park Hyatt Shanghai
Exploring Shanghai
Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge Shanghai, American Business Class Shanghai to Los Angeles


I really struggled with which hotel to stay at in Shanghai, though in the end decided to spend all four nights at the Park Hyatt. The Park Hyatt is the second tallest hotel in the world, taking up the top floors of the Shanghai World Financial Center.


Hotel exterior at night


Hotel exterior during the day

After arriving by taxi I was welcomed by both a “greeter” and bellman, who helped me with my bags. The greeter walked me towards the elevatothrough what has to be one of the most elegant hotel entrances. You go through about five sets of glass sliding doors, each with nicely decorated rooms, before making it to the elevators.


Hotel entrance


Hotel entrance


Hotel entrance

The lobby is on the 87th floor, and the elevator from the entrance only goes to the 87th and 91st floors, which are for the lobby and restaurant. All other floors are accessed through a different set of elevators from the lobby.


Elevator

The lobby is also incredibly elegant and at the same time has a very “boutique” feel. I was promptly helped by the front office manager, who processed my check-in. My rate was 2100CNY for the first three nights (~$330/night), and then the fourth night was free (bringing the cost down to ~$250/night). I also received complimentary afternoon tea once during my stay, and managed to use a Diamond confirmed suite upgrade. So while this is usually a lot more than I’d want to pay for a hotel stay, I figured it was worth it given the fourth night free and suite upgrade. Those extra benefits (the afternoon tea and fourth night free) came by booking through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (Virtuoso wasn’t offering the fourth night free in this instance).


Lobby

Once my check-in was finished the front office manager escorted me to my room on the 83rd floor and showed me all the features.


Elevators


Room entrance

The room was beyond stunning. At the entrance was a small foyer, which led to a half bath and then the living room. The living room had a desk, daybed, and couch area facing the flat screen TV. The entire living room featured hardwood floors, which I loved.


Living room


Living room


Second bathroom

The bedroom was also very modern, and led into the bathroom (which had even more controls than a Japanese toilet). To the left were the shower and tub, which, much like the Park Hyatt Seoul, were in the same enclosure.


Bedroom


Bedroom


Bathroom

I’ve never stayed in a hotel with a shower/bath as awesome as this place. The main reason I say that is because the water pressure was amazing. The shower had a rain shower, a “handheld” showerhead, and also another stream further down. Not only was the tub awesome, but it filled up in a matter of minutes.


Double sinks


Bathtub/shower

The bathroom with double sinks also has a built in TV, which I figured was rather impractical given that I’d much rather watch TV from the bathtub than the sink. But then it dawned on me that due to the mirrors you could actually watch TV from the bathtub as well. I’m not sure if that was intentional or a coincidence, but I thought it was genius.

The Diamond welcome amenity was a couple of éclairs, pralines, and also a bottle of wine.


Welcome amenity

The views from my room were stunning on so many different levels. For the few hours a day where the weather was clear, I could see for miles and miles. Oddly, the views were equally cool when the visibility wasn’t good. It was the first time I’ve stayed in a hotel where I literally saw clouds go by my window.


View from my room

The rest of the hotel facilities were stunning as well. The pool, gym, and ”Water’s Edge” spa were located on the 85th floor.

The infinity pool is easily one of coolest pools I’ve ever seen, not just because of the pool itself, but because it’s almost always in the clouds thanks to Shanghai’s smog. There’s also a hot tub right next to the pool, as well as a very nice deck for relaxing. Every time you arrive at the pool, one of the employees (who are oddly enough dressed in suits) bring you a towel and bottle of water.


Pool


Pool

The gym, while small, was well equipped and featured a fridge with bottled water and Propel.


Gym


Gym

One day I had a spa treatment at the Water’s Edge Spa, which is supposedly the highest spa in the world. I took advantage of their winter special, which consisted of an hour long “breathe easy” massage and 45 minute ginger polish. Not my first choice for an “add on,” but it was free. At 800 CNY it wasn’t cheap, though very good.

The waiting area for the spa is right by the pool, and as soon as you’re seated you get to pick out what kind of music, oil, and tea you want.


Waiting area


Spa entrance

The restaurant, 100 Century Avenue (located on the 91st floor), is also amazing. As a Diamond member I had complimentary breakfast there each morning, and the spread was spectacular. First I was always offered coffee, tea, and freshly squeezed juice (it always took a while to get, since they literally squeezed it fresh when you ordered it), and then I could help myself to the buffet. They had everything from waffles to omelets to dim sum to fruit to cereal, to anything else you could possibly want. Truly one of the best breakfast spreads I’ve seen anywhere.


Restaurant


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Breakfast spread


Omelet and salmon


Apple juice, coffee, dim sum, etc.

I met a blog reader for afternoon tea one day since I had a complimentary afternoon tea for two, and it was excellent as well. The comical part of the experience was that it was so smoggy that we literally couldn’t see out the window. Oh well, I guess afternoon tea in the clouds is just as fun as afternoon tea with a view.


Lobby lounge


Afternoon tea


Afternoon tea with a view

This hotel is very well staffed, perhaps too much so. When you get off the elevator in the lobby there are three people standing there to push the elevator buttons for you, welcome you, etc.

The hotel is part of the World Financial Center, so I should mention that if you go down to the ground floor you can enter the World Financial Center, which has a ton of dining options that are a bit more reasonably priced than those in the hotel. There’s a Starbucks, Subway, and well over a dozen other dining options, from Chinese to Italian.

All that being said, I do have a couple of minor critiques of the hotel. My stay was utterly phenomenal, but I think just about every hotel has a few places they can improve, so I don’t think I’d be doing the hotel justice if I didn’t mention them.

First of all, while the bellmen were friendly, they didn’t speak a word of English. I asked for a taxi to the Maglev Station, which got me a blank stare. I followed up with “train station for airport,” and they still gave me a clueless look. And there were three of them, so at least one of them should speak a bit of English. Furthermore, when I asked for directions to the Starbucks (which is located in the World Financial Center 200 feet from them), it was returned with a blank stare. I don’t expect them to speak perfect English, but very few guests staying here seemed to speak Mandarin, so I don’t understand why they’d put people at the curb that don’t speak a word of English, especially at a hotel of this caliber.

Next, as discussed here, the hotel doesn’t allow photography… unless you’re in the picture. C’mon, that’s ridiculous. Think about it, why would I want to take pictures of the hotel without me in them? Maybe to write a positive review of the hotel on Trip Advisor, a blog, or somewhere else? It’s just such a massive contrast to every other hotel, which promotes taking pictures and always jokes “you’re going to post these on Trip Advisor, right?”

And to show the level of obnoxiousness of the policy, I was working out in the gym one afternoon and a family of four comes into the gym and starts taking pictures of themselves “posing” on the equipment. I was in the background, and it was pretty distracting/annoying. At the same time, I wanted to snap a quick picture of the pool when nobody was in it, and they told me not to take a picture before I could even turn on my camera. Of course that didn’t stop me from “secretly” taking some with my iPhone (hence the bad photography of public areas — my apologies), but still…

Lastly, when I checked out, the agent tried to tell me my fourth night wasn’t free because there was a rate change and I used a suite upgrade. When she presented me the bill and I pointed out the fourth night wasn’t removed, she basically blamed the “error” on me and said the fourth night wouldn’t be free, instead of first looking into it and then stating the issue to me. The irony is that the same front office manager that informed me at check-in that my fourth night was free was standing right next to her. It was resolved in my favor in the end, though I still think it wasn’t handled well.

Anyway, despite the minor nitpicks, this has quickly become one of my favorite hotels in one of my favorite cities. Shanghai is such an exciting city, and the Park Hyatt is the perfect place to stay. There’s nothing quite as exciting as staying in the clouds.

That being said, the hotel is a bit on the pricey side, and I probably wouldn’t have stayed here if the fourth night weren’t free, simply because it would have been even further outside of my budget. If it were a special occasion or I were traveling with someone (and could therefore get more “value” out of the stay), I’d stay again in a heartbeat.

I highly recommend this hotel to anyone that has the chance. It’s also worth noting that this is a category 5 hotel, meaning it would cost 18,000 Gold Passport points per night, or 27,000 Gold Passport points per night for a suite. Both are also a spectacular value, in my opinion.

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Comments

  1. One thought and one question:
    thought: very accurate about it being the second tallest hotel! The building is taller than the Hong Kong Ritz, but the Hong Kong Ritz has higher hotel floors, at least that’s what this month’s Hemispheres tells me ;-).
    question: Is there an outdoor infinity pool at that property? For some reason, I thought there was one.

  2. Hey Ben – another enjoyable report, thanks. (did you get the rollaway bed I ordered you? 🙂

    Quick question: When you go to a hotel like this, do you make a conscientious effort to ‘dress up’ more than you normally would for a more basic property?

    How about the other guests? Dressed up? Or sweats and a t-shirt?

    I definitely want to go check out this hotel – a round the world trip with stops here are at the PH Sydney along the way sounds like fun…

  3. @ Lark — Thanks! Hmmm, that’s a great question. Most of the guests seemed to be business people so were in suits. I wouldn’t say I dressed up, though I tried not to dress like total trash. I usually wore jeans and a collared shirt. And then I spent quite a bit of time at the pool, so just wore swimming trunks in a t-shirt.

    Embarrassingly enough I decided to go to the pool one morning in a bathrobe given that it takes about 30 seconds to get between the two, and I just happened to run into the GM in the elevator. FML.

  4. Looks like a nice property. Shanghai is one of the few major world cities I’ve never visited, so I’m always interested to read more about it.

    Just curious, did you have any problems getting your journalism visa for China? Or did you travel on a regular tourist/business visa and keep the blogging under wraps?

  5. Always enjoy reading your reports. Thanks.

    Love the PH Shanghai too, although to me the Grant Hyatt next door is equally good on every aspect, but is only a category 4-15000pts and much cheaper. The Hyatt on the bund is cat 4 too and has IMO the best suite with best view of the bund and pudong skyline. And the new Andaz is in great location with many great dinning and shopping options in walking distance. So while PH is great, I find no reason to stay there choosing among the four hyatt properties in Shanghai.

  6. The room actually didn’t look that nice. A bit too minimal for my tastes, which is funny b/c I love minimalist modern decor. Also, the issue during checkout seems like it would’ve been really annoying.

  7. @ caligal — You can’t lower the toilet lid! It has a motion sensor, so as soon as you enter the bathroom it goes up.

  8. Hey Ben, great report! This is one hotel I really would have liked to stay as a Diamond (no longer Diamond now) and kind of regretted when I had an opportunity back in 2010. The suite looks amazing, not to mention its bath room. I’d figure that their standard room must be pretty decent as well.

    Regarding your hick-ups at check-out. I don’t think that’s a minor issue and I am sure you handled it properly with the hotel. I’ve experienced similar issues in other hotels and it can be very stressful thing (that could potentially erase your positive stay experience) when one is on a specific time-schedule or on his/her way to the airport.

    Glad that things worked out in your favor, but I am sure unknowledgable guests can be screwed by this easily.

  9. I loved the Park Hyatt when staying there last April, so it was great going there again even if just for tea! 🙂

  10. @ Lucky: We thought you would have learned after the pajamas incident! Did the GM recognize you? I am sure they are a fan of your blog since you consistently give such high (and deserved) praise to their hotels.

    Maybe I am old fashioned (or just plain old?), but when we stay at very nice hotels such as this one, I do make an effort to dress nicer than I might otherwise…

    This hotel is definitely on our list. Maybe we’ll stay here in October after our stay at the RC HK – we could knock off the worlds two tallest hotels on the same trip! 🙂

    Lark

  11. @ Lark — Yeah, I try to dress up a bit, though within the realm of wanting to go sightseeing. I don’t want to roam the city in a suit, though I try to at least wear nicer shoes and a collared shirt.

    As far as the GM recognizing me? Heck no. I think he thought I was someone’s kid. 😀

  12. Even if you dislike or disagree with the hotel’s policy regarding taking pictures, it’s their policy. Don’t like it, don’t stay there.

  13. I’ve been to the top of that building (reminds me of a bottle opener) and there are windows that look down into the check in area of the Hyatt. Very cool indeed! I would like to stay there some day if i go back but shanghai wasn’t my kind of city. I prefer more traditiona older style Chinese cities.

  14. Never judge a customer by their dress, or comment. A few years ago working as A PA to a billionaire (yup a real one) he always traveled in old Levis and Tee (though usualy Hugo, silk) He was put down several times by staff and management. We had to extend our stay and I had to reschedule massively and I wasn’t told why! Though I could tell he was excited about something (a big deal massive profit)He dressed worse and worse in fact dirty. On the sixth day we had to meet someone in the lobby as this Japanese man walked over to us you could tell he was big in the Hotel staff were edgy as hell. To cut it short he bought the hotel and savaged the manager and senior staff in public in front of guests the lot before firing them. For months he would smile for no reason and still plays back the audio years later. It always amazed me how he could wear Armani linen jacket, Armani jumper (never wool), old 501’s , scruffy loafers from a store in Milan, silk socks and under wear from a tailor in Bangkok never less than a 7,000 outfit and he looked like a bum. Always look at the watch and pen! A Japanese hippy Magna baron. Never judge a book buy it’s cover.

  15. Hmmm, looks like the Park Hyatt Shanghai is all show no substance…
    The negatives mentioned are definitely not minor and would bug the hell out of me.

  16. I was so excited to visit Shanghai but I just couldn’t deal with the smog. It is truly the most unhealthy city I’ve ever visited (spitting in public, people urinating against walls, everyone smoking and the air quality beyond belief). I won’t be going back.

  17. Was this a case of combining an electronic suite upgrade cert with FHR booking? If so, do tell how it was done. Enquiring Diamonds want to know!

  18. @ James — Well suite upgrades aren’t really electronic, as they need to be applied over the phone. But yes, I called to apply the suite upgrade to the reservation and had no issues.

  19. Looks like you had a great stay in a ‘wow’ hotel. I’d be a bit giddy with delight after something like that too. But I think referring to fog of pollution blocking your views as pleasant ‘clouds’ is like tryin to polish a turd, as we say in the UK. It’s great that you weren’t terribly bothered by it, but call it what it is please and don’t try to pass off a haze of pollutants as water vapour. 😉

  20. @Lucky, next time you should wear your robe and go to the 100th floor of the observatory for a quick stroll. The view up there is all glass. I’ve seen men in PJs up there. It’s China there’s no public display rules but you just can’t access Google (quickly) or Facebook (at all).

  21. Stayed 2 nights in July 2013, and I can confirm that the bellmen all speak very good English. No problems ordering taxis and asking for directions. What a difference a year makes I guess?

  22. Staying at this hotel for 3 nights in October 2013.
    I love it!
    Amazing views from my room on the 83rd floor!
    The breakfast buffet makes it really hard to restrain myself.
    The concierge on duty is very helpful.

    A little heaven in this crazy & crowded city of Shanghai.

  23. I went to this article again and looking at the issues with photos made me wonder if this is not related to the fact that his building is a “Financial Center” and, in line with 9/11 there is some sort of issues with taking pictures in this kind of building?

    Just a thought. I respect that…

    Cheers

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