Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston
We had chosen this Top of the World tour in the Beijing to Shanghai direction because you get to do the rickshaw tour of the hutong and you don’t if you take the tour in the Shanghai to Beijing direction. But we came to realize we were fortunate to have done the tour that way for a couple of other reasons. First, after being on tours or traveling every day for a week, by the time we got on the boat we really enjoyed having a few afternoons with nothing to do but nap and watch the scenery. The other reason was that had we stayed at the Fairmont Peace Hotel first, we might have been disappointed with the other hotels on our tour.
The Peace Hotel was orignally called Sassoon House and was built by Sir Victor Sassoon in the late 1920s. It’s a beautiful art deco building that was closed for three years for renovations and reopened in 2010 when Fairmont took over running it.
The whole ground floor is bathed in soft yellow lights that reflect off all the glass and marble surfaces. The front doors are made of dark wood that contrasts beautifully with the yellow glow.
After entering the building the front desk is immediately to the right and then just past that is an atrium with a vaulted glass ceiling.
On the walls are these massive tin art pieces of local scenes. This one is of the Bund, which is the waterfront area on the Huangpu River just across the street from the hotel. The Fairmont Peace Hotel can be seen as the tall building with the pyramid on top. This art piece is probably 8 feet tall.
Looking down a couple of the hallways you can get a feel for how elegant the restoration was.
The restoration was faithful to the elevators of the time in that while there were several of them, they were all very small and not particularly fast. The bellmen had to wait for empty elevators to be able to bring the luggage up because with a cart there was just no way to get anyone else on the elevator with them.
Guest Room Floor Hallways
Once exiting the elevators you stepped into an elevator lobby that echoed the soft lighting of the lobby and on to the thick carpeting that cushioned every step between the elevator and your guest room.
Across the hall from the elevators was a waiting area with a couple of comfortable-looking chairs.
The actual layout of the hotel is a bit of a V-shape with a couple of hallways connecting the two sides:
The elevators are on the middle hall. To reach our room we took the path to the “top leg” of the hotel map then turned right to the room with the red dot.
Fairmont Guest Room
I did notice that the doors on our right were much further apart than the doors on the left. I didn’t think too much of that until we opened the door to our room. It wasn’t classified as a suite but it might as well have been! If you notice on the floor map above, the door actually opens into the center of the room which may seem odd but I suspect that this Fairmont Room was originally two rooms during the hotel’s early days. As the room faces the building’s courtyard there’s not much of a view – but then we weren’t in Shanghai to look out our hotel room window!
When the door is opened you’re actually in a little foyer between the bathroom and the bedroom. In the foyer with you is this cabinet that houses the coffee/tea setup as well as the mini-fridge.
Through the pocket door to the left is the gigantic bathroom. Once inside, the first door on the left is the toilet
and the other door houses the walk-in shower. I was disappointed to see that the hand-held shower head was not mounted up high on the wall, meaning I’d likely have contort to stay underneath it since the rainfall shower head probably wouldn’t provide a strong enough spray. I. Was. So. Wrong. This was the best rainfall shower head ever, pouring down the water and I absolutely loved it. My other typical pet peeve with walk-in showers is there’s usually nowhere to prop my leg while shaving – but the designers took care of that too with bench on the opposite wall. I wanted to take this shower home with me.
Against the side wall of the bathroom were two very large sinks, each with plenty of counter space and a shelf below. It seems I did not get a photo of that for some reason. Nor did I get a photo of the chaise longue directly opposite them. What was I thinking? I think I was so giddy at the size of the room that I just spaced out. But you can see part of one of the sinks in the photo below along with a corner of the chaise.
Against the back wall was the bathtub which looked comfortable enough though we didn’t use it.
The toiletries were by Le Labo.
Between the tub and the chaise was another pocket door that led into the walk-through closet. There were several shelves and the safe in this area.
Across from the closet was this makeup table.
Through another pocket door on the other side of the closet was the bedroom area. We had two queen beds which felt like heaven after the twin cots on the ship. While there was just a single nightstand between them, there were several electrical outlets.
There were more outlets on the desk in the corner. We also enjoyed relaxing on the sofa instead of sitting on the bed.
The entertainment cabinet was between the two sets of pocket doors and housed the TV set.
This was definitely the best hotel room of the trip. Not everyone in our group got one of these but even the Deluxe Rooms that actually had views were huge in comparison to the other hotels.
The hotel is in an area called The Bund, which refers to an embankment or an embanked quay, like a levee or dam. The Peace Hotel is just across the street from the Bund which is beside the Huangpu River. Across the river are many office towers of various kinds and, like in other cities we visited, at night these buildings are spectacularly lit.
When we left our hotel to go to the waterfront one evening, we needed to exit the hotel and turn left. But there were so many people on the sidewalk that it was impossible to “swim upstream” and go to the left so we just turned right, waited until we got to a street corner then crossed over and turned left to go with the flow on that side of the street. Even though it was a Sunday night there were people everywhere and some sections of our street were even closed to motor traffic. I guess when there are over 24 million people in one city it doesn’t take much to make one area quite busy!
I went up to the lounge and it was very quiet in the middle of the afternoon. I’m not familiar with what a premium membership in Fairmont’s President’s Club is supposed to offer but while there were a couple of staff members in the area, they didn’t prevent me from looking around and I didn’t see any food on offer.
On the back down I stopped at the Peace Hall which appeared to be a banquet room/ballroom and it looked like they were setting up for a wedding.
Spa, Pool, Gym
The spa is open from 10 AM to 11 PM. Though I didn’t have any treatments here if the lobby is any indication you’ll be fully relaxed when you leave.
The indoor pool is rather small but I liked the skylight over it.
The fitness area was comprised of a couple of different rooms. Once for yoga-type activities
And the other had cardio and weight machines.
We had the breakfast buffet in the restaurant on the ground floor. While it wasn’t quite as extensive as some of the others, we found plenty to eat before our one full day in Shanghai.
I loved the decor of this hotel. My only issue with the property was the air conditioning. We set the thermostat to 65F but it never got that cool and, as usual, I woke up sweating. I think part of the problem was the pillows were so soft that my head would sink into them, creating a pocket for the heat to just collect. Perhaps higher-loft pillows is the answer for me.
But I’d stay here again just for the shower! It’s convenient to the Bund and so classy that I hope to come back some day.