If The Sybarite had to pick their most favorite hotel thus far it would have to be none other than The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. It is one of a story-telling nature that effortlessly hones in on every touch point making for an undeniably unforgettable experience.
The reason one would choose to stay here – aside from its luxury appeal – is simply that the hotel delivers on its deserved five-star service. They are timely, pre-emptive, and highly observant without being invasive so much so that it can surprise some guests in the fine delivery of its hospitality.
On this occasion, we reviewed a stay at The Mandarin Oriental Shanghai. Though we arrived fairly late in the afternoon, we were whisked up to their Club Lounge for check-in where we were offered tea of our choice and told to have a seat. In no time at all and without having to sign any forms, we were escorted to our rooms. These are one of the benefits when booking with Mandarin’s Club Lounge benefits – a most hospitable speedy check-in.
The room we took up was in the Executive Suite offering 67SQM of space and overlooking Shanghai’s panoramic harbor. Steeped in contemporary design and luxury furnishings, the Executive Suite was like living in a luxury apartment where you actually felt comfortable as opposed to feeling foreign in a new surrounding. We believe that these were due to the lighting, the deeply plush carpets complemented by the warm interior accents. It is no wonder that Victoria’s Secret models opted to stay here for their 2017 catwalk debut in Shanghai, when they otherwise, could have chosen many other five-star options in the city.
The Mandarin Oriental Shanghai is of course a very welcoming family-friendly hotel and we were pleased and surprised to find (as not many hotels do this) that the room was baby-proofed for our arrival. This really goes to show the hotel’s thoughtfulness and attentiveness to its guests that come with children. Another aspect to note in terms of quality was that the baby cot provided at the Mandarin Shanghai was the most comfortable we have seen thus far. Usually what we have observed in previous reviews are the cots being too small or not in keeping with the hotel’s aesthetics; some had the cot but didn’t even have any baby duvets, mattress covers or pillows! Our little one slept, quite literally, like a baby in his Mandarin Shanghai cot.
As we settled into our room, we were soon greeted by the hotel’s Guest Services who did not hesitate to present us with their stuffed toy panda for the little one. Apparently, each Mandarin hotel branch offers its own representative stuffed toy and for Shanghai, it is their panda. We were then able to relax and take in the harbor view in the comforts of the separate living area decked out with a well-stocked desk full of stationary located in a separate stationary box along with telephone and all the necessary menus and information one might need of the hotel and its surrounding. A good space to get your work things done.
Not long after, it was time to explore the bathroom which was quite unique as it featured an oversized bathtub and rain shower in a separate compartment – this is where we could really let go of the days travel exhaustion. Of course, a bath really isn’t a bath anymore without some in-bath entertainment and you’ll be pleased to know that this is located within the compartment. With double-sinks to match and a separate compartment for the toilet along with a well-stocked array of bathroom amenities, the bathroom was perfect.
For the little ones, the hotel provided baby toiletries courtesy of Johnson & Johnson as well as one diaper which was rather unusual but we thought very thoughtful indeed.
As a Club Lounge guest, there are benefits to enjoy such as the butler service on demand (although we didn’t make use of this) which means you’re never without service in the hotel, access to the Club Lounge for cocktail hour, afternoon tea and breakfast which are all complimentary (the point is to let guests unwind and receive that membership feel). Breakfast is also served at the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant Zest which offers a generous and wide-ranging breakfast buffet with a la carte options too.
But of course, Mandarin Oriental’s reputation further lies in its restaurant options and spa services of which they are highly specialized in. Take for example their Michelin starred Chinese restaurant, Yong Yi Ting for those wanting to experience Jiang Nan dishes which are dishes coming from South of the Yangtze River – quite a unique offering, especially to have been awarded a Michelin Star and so definitely worth delving your taste buds into. There is also the traditional French restaurant Fifty 8° Grill spearheaded by its Michelin chef Richard Ekkebus and Qi Bar which is apparently “fast becoming a Shanghai institution” and serves classic and contemporary cocktails made by top mixologists trained in New York.
As for their spa, you would not stay at the Mandarin Oriental without having indulged in their treatments or spa facilities. Boasting 2,415 square meters, the Mandarin Spa is an urban wellness escape that offers a variety of holistic treatments and therapies. On this occasion, we sampled their signature Oriental Essence Massage which we highly recommend for those stressed guests aiming to relieve tension in their neck and shoulders. Lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes, this is the perfect treatment to sink into as your therapist uses Mandarin’s signature oil blends whilst applying your desired pressure onto specific areas and points of your body. We would also recommend booking their ‘Butterfly’s Dream’ treatment which consists of a deep bath infused with Chinese mulberry and jasmine followed by a facial and pressure point touch therapy to aid in the body’s ability to heal naturally. Aside from treatments, it is worth taking a dip in their 25-meter indoor heated swimming pool whilst enjoying some spa cuisine before relinquishing yourselves to their Crystal Steam Room or Aromatic and Color Therapy Experience Showers.
It is suffice to say that the Mandarin Oriental in Shanghai is the epitome of world-class service that is so distinct, so defining of the Mandarin Oriental experience that it ultimately becomes the reason you want to return as a guest, if only to be treated with such genuine hospitality.
This was further experienced on our departure from Shanghai where they arranged their hotel’s car service first, via phone call to arrange the pick-up and then via facsimile to remind us of the pick-up time and terminal. As soon as we received our wake-up call, we were ready to head down and leave and were delighted and comforted to find packed breakfast boxes to take away during our car journey to the airport. And just as we thought we’d left the hotel, as soon as the car arrived at the airport’s terminal we were greeted by one of the hotel’s butlers who helped us with our suitcase and check-in. This is testament to Mandarin Oriental’s goal – to make the guest utterly comfortable and to ensure that each guest goes through a smooth process whenever at their hands.
Should your next destination be Shanghai and if what you seek is luxury living, discretion, superb service and convenience then choose the Mandarin Oriental. Although located in Pudong (east of the Huangpu River) across from the center of Puxi, a taxi ride to the other side is merely 20 minutes away as we have experienced. Therefore it was nice to be in the center for all the shopping and eating only to come back to more peaceful side of Pudong amongst all the newly built Skyscrapers. It won’t be long before Pudong becomes the up and coming, so do take advantage.