Jiaozhuo Road in Shanghai is located just a few blocks north of Nanjing Road—the longest and one of the most spectacular shopping/entertainment/dining thoroughfares on the planet. Part of the 4-mile road is pedestrian-only, with over one million people visiting daily, which ends at the famous riverfront promenade, The Bund. Many of the new and historic luxury properties that cater to business groups are located in and around Nanjing and The Bund.
The 26-room URBN Hotel Shanghai located on Jiaozhuo Road is close enough to both destinations for a walk or quick cab ride for dinner but it’s far enough removed from the hub bub in its own serene little environment. Well, as serene as you can get in central Shanghai.
Open since 2008 inside a converted post office warehouse, URBN Shanghai is China’s first carbon neutral hotel with design elements like reclaimed wood for flooring and dozens of old leather suitcases used for wall-covering in the lobby. The rest of the building incorporates factory bricks, slate and industrial steel windows, with the resulting effect reminiscent of a modern museum café. The Zen-like minimalist rooms feature low beds and sunken living rooms, hemp cushions, compressed cardboard desk chairs, and in some cases, sunken bathtubs next to the beds.
All of the rooms overlook an enclosed bamboo courtyard next to the ground floor restaurant, Downstairs with David Laris, serving contempo Austrailian/Asian nibbles.
Furthermore, URBN Shanghai is ranked among the top three business hotels in the city, with groups rates starting below $200 nightly. The values are further enhanced with a variety of cool group activities offered either onsite or nearby, including Tai Chi, Mandarin, calligraphy and cooking lessons, as well as bike tours departing from the lobby. The managers are also happy to arrange custom tailoring in your room, with new shirts/slacks delivered within 24 hours.
“While we’re beginning to see the boutique hotel phenomenon evolve in Shanghai, URBN offers an experience that parallels the likes of London, New York and Barcelona, with a unique Shanghai chic unto itself and international quality western comforts and conveniences,” says co-owner Scott Barrack.
Jules Kwan, the other managing partner, adds: “We want to be at the forefront of promoting environmental awareness, protection and sustainable buildings within the hotel industry.”
URBN is also located near The French Concession, an area of Shanghai that was once home to the bulk of French merchants during the end of the Colonial era. The narrow avenues rimmed with old growth trees and historic Tudor and Art Deco mansions are part of the reason for Shanghai’s moniker: “Paris of the East.”
Like Najing and The Bund, the region is filled with restaurants ranging from fine-dining to charmng bistro fare at Le Saleya. There’s also a burgeoning fashion scene revolving around new boutique houses selling Chinese/European fusion couture. Might be a good idea to pick up something for nights on The Bund at Bar Rouge or The Glamour Bar.