The World Expo comes to Shanghai in spring 2010, and new buildings are going up at breakneck speed to welcome some of the estimated 70 million visitors expected to descend on the city.
One of the most interesting structures is the Peninsula Shanghai, the first new building in 60 years to grace the Bund – the city's historic waterfront, which is lined with the former premises of banks and trading houses dating from the 19th and 20th Century, now protected as a Unesco modern heritage site.
The bronze and granite-clad Peninsula Shanghai sits at the north end of the Bund by the Huangpu River in the grounds of a former shopping mall. To complement its location, a resplendent Art Deco interior has been crafted by hotel design luminary Pierre-Yves Rochon, who also styled the Four Seasons Georges V in Paris.
The biggest piece of indoor eye candy is the regal ground-floor lobby with black marble floor, limestone walls, double-storey murals, and a towering backlit carved-glass ceiling. This nod to Shanghai's glory days in the 1920s and 1930s is appreciated by the chi-chi crowd, which has been streaming in to soak up the elegant atmosphere – a favourite time is afternoon tea, enjoyed to the strains of a lively string quartet.
For inspiring views of the Huangpu River and the contrasting ultra-modern skyline of Pudong across the water, request a room looking over the Bund. All 235 Art Deco-inspired guest quarters are grandly kitted-out with thick, hand-tufted wool carpets, smouldering mahogany and ebony woodwork, and beaded chrome chandeliers. And the requisite in-room luxuries are all in place, including 46in plasma-screen TVs, iPod docks, Nespresso coffee machines, 1,000 thread-count linen by Frette, and free local and international calls and WiFi. All rooms also feature hi-tech yet easy-to-navigate electronic panels by the bedside, tub-side and vanity top for TV, lighting and air-con control.
The food and drink
Dine in style and grandeur on refined Cantonese cuisine by Michelin-star chef Tang Chi Keung at Yi Long Court. Alternatively, head for chef Arnaud Berthelier's modern European tasting menu at the Bund-fronting Sir Elly's rooftop bar and restaurant, perched on the hotel's east wing. After dinner, dance to live music at the sultry Salon de Ning – sip on the signature Rose champagne in one of four exotically themed alcoves. But if you prefer a quiet conversation over a cigar or a whisky, try the more masculine Compass Bar.
There's a health club complete with personal trainer, a 25-metre indoor sky-lit pool, and a spa featuring products by ESPA. The hotel is close to the popular Nanjing Road shopping area.
Two hotel rooms with wider foyers, safety handrails and wheelchair access are dedicated to guests with disabilities. Braille signing is also available in the lifts and on room doors.
A superior room currently costs from RMB 2,009 (£184) per night. Packages can be arranged through Mandarin Journeys (mandarinjourneys.com).
Peninsula Shanghai, 32 The Bund, 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road, Shanghai 200002 (00 86 21 2327 2888; peninsula.com/shanghai).