Shanghai – the first thing that strikes you about this city is the scale. The population of China’s biggest city is greater than the whole population of Australia. In practical terms, that means high-rise buildings in every direction, as far as the eye can see.
Coming in from Sydney on a late night Air China flight, you get your first real glimpse of the city from the back of a car – in my case an indigo blue e-class Mercedes - as you spiral down from the amazing Shanghai Yangtze River Bridge.
(It makes our Anzac Bridge look like a tiny replica).
I’m living the high life and staying at the boutique Hotel Indigo Shanghai on The Bund for the first half of my week-long stay.
The lobby is a riot of colour, sculpture, art and greenery (something that you might find yourself missing during your Shanghai sojourn).
The suites are nicely appointed with décor that blends both young and old Shanghai, though it’s tough to drag your eyes away from the amazing view, especially if your room (#2708) is located on the 27th floor!
With the hotel being positioned at the south end of The Bund, my room allowed me to see the whole length of The Bund, and across the river to Pudong and the futuristic Oriental Pearl Tower.
With free Wi-Fi, and excellent facilities - from a stylish library; to cool media pods with daily international newspapers; to large-screen Macs for planning your day; to a heated pool and vibrating massage chairs to unwind from it – there are plenty of reasons to remain in-house.
The best three are the pool at sunset (which is kind of post-apocalyptic courtesy of Shanghai's air pollution), the excellent modern grill, Char Dining, on the 29th floor, and the cocktail bar with the sublime view, Char Bar on the 31st floor.
At the former you will undoubtedly notice the penetration of Australian products into China, with the menu boasting items like David Blackmore’s excellent wagyu and Coffin Bay’s standout bivalves.
So yes, it is possible to travel to China and eat totally Western food (though why you would want to, I’ll never quite understand).
The highlight of my meal at Char Dining was one of the restaurant’s signature dishes: a painterly plate of black cod with baby carrots, star anise and lime syrup (280 Yuan). (When I travelled one Australian dollar was equal to approximately six Yuan, so to get a sense of prices, divide any Yuan mention by six for Australian dollars.) The foie gras parfait crumble with apple and red onion jam (148 Yuan) was a very close second. As far as drinking goes, Australian wines (and indeed wines in general) don’t really provide great bang for your Aussie buck in Shanghai. On the other hand, cocktails everywhere seem to use premium spirits, and are less expensive than they are in Sydney. So whilst in Shanghai, I split my time between cocktails and their famous TsingTao Beer (particularly good with hot food).
Char Bar is a great place to get acquainted with a beverage or two, especially on the outdoor 31st floor balcony transfixed by those gleaming Shanghai lights…
Stay tuned for the next part of my Shanghai adventure. I would be remiss here if I did not thank Hotel Indigo’s Thomas Milazzo. Thomas provided invaluable advice on what’s currently hot in Shanghai, including the it-restaurants and bars. His suggestions formed no small part of my itinerary, and even when I did get intrepid, his advice nearly always worked out better than anything I found on my own. I would also like to thank New Shanghai, for without them I may not have found myself visiting Shanghai at all.
Please also see: Shanghai Eats, Shanghai Bars, Shanghai Sights & Shanghai Attractions.
Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund
Char Bar & Dining