Located in the futuristic part of Shanghai’s Pudong district, the Kerry Hotel, which belongs to the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts group, is a fine example of where China’s high lifestyle is heading. With the rather unattractive looking Shanghai Exhibition Centre located right on the hotel’s doorstep, some people may argue that the location is not as glamorous as that of Bund, or even as nostalgic as that of the French Concession. To put it bluntly, it just looks like any other bog standard office building from the outside. There is not a single indication that some architectural genius has mastered this piece of boring concrete. OK, so the outside of the building may be an actual failure in terms of design (well done to the unmentionable architect). Nevertheless, just step inside and you’ll be exposed to a rather different world. Can looks really be that deceptive, I wonder? Let’s find out.
The journey time from the point of arriving at Shanghai’s Pudong airport, where my chauffeur sent by the hotel met me, must have been less than 40 minutes at the most. Upon arriving at the hotel, I was quickly whisked away to my room where I was showcased the hotel’s revolutionary paperless check in procedure using iPads. It saves the approx. 80,000 pieces of paper being used every year , and an innovative initiative by the hotel management to make the future bright as they say. First impressions of the hotel are that this place is spacious, very chic, and feels fresh. There is definitely an air of elegance around as one takes a short walk around the lobby.
The cheery on top of the cake has to be the rooms themselves. Split into five categories, the hotel’s 574 well-appointed guestrooms and suites are generously spaced between 42 to 168 square meters. Each rooms provides fascinating views across to the Century Park or the rather unattractive Shanghai Exhibition Centre which looks more like a mini airport when standing at the 31st floor, the hotel’s highest. What really impressed me most was the generous space of the rooms, and the modern amenities that come with it. Take toiletries by L’Occitane, a massive rain forest power-shower the size of two London telephone booths, a Jacuzzi, wireless internet, Nespresso machines, 40-inch flat television screens, iPod docking station, complimentary mini-bar drinks for the first round, and even a notepad and pencil next to your toilet seat (now, you didn’t think they’d have that did you?).
Those fortunate enough to fork out the money and stay in any one of the seven floors dedicated to the Clubrooms are rewarded a 24-hour butler service, and with complimentary accesses to the Club Lounge. With delicious snacks, and beverages including the hotel’s own brewed beer, available all day long, this Club Lounge is like no other in the city. There is a potpourri of food on offer, including various pots of yogurt, juices of various kinds, cereals, fruits, alcohol drinks, delicious chocolates, and cheesecakes to die for, and endless cups of tea and coffee. In addition, with things like a ‘wine vending machine’, there is definitely more variety here and it’s a place to savour for as a city getaway from the hustle and bustle of the crowds. Take a drink, forget the outside, and just salute the future of this city.
The Club Lounge is not for lunch or dinner, which is why I wandered off to have a drink at the BREW, then dinner at the MEET restaurant, and then had lunch the following day at the COOK restaurant. The latter is perhaps not the place to go to if you are vegan as it specialises in steaks, and meat is the key attraction here. Judging from the display of a ghastly array of meat chops, including a few lambs legs, hanging behind the red lantern lit room I it does make ones stomach churn. It’s look like a cross between a luxury restaurant and a glamorized butchers shop all in one. But, fear not, as the MEET is perhaps one of the best steakhouses you’ll visit in this city (it really is).
The Kerry in Pudong is proud to have their own small craft brewery located inside the actual bar called the BREW. The 153-seat BREW is a beehive for city yuppies looking to while away the evening in good company. The bar specialises in brewing their own six signature beers, and a cider. You can either try all six of them if you want. The two favourite ones are the ‘Indian Pale Ale’, and the ‘Pils’. Both of these are also widely available in the Club Lounge, in the mini-bar or in any of the restaurants at the hotel. On the other hand, the COOK is a flamboyant hall made up of open kitchens that highlights the best dies from around the world. Indian, Malaysian, Japanese, Chinese, Western…vegan, you name it and it’s all there. The best thing to do is to purchase a card from the counter, and try bits and bobs of everything. The cost will then automatically be added to your hotel room bill.
After all that heavy food, I decided to wander off to the gym to have a look what’s on offer. I was in for a surprise. I was expecting a small averagely sized hotel gym. The large Gym, which is open 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, is big enough to house at least 300 people at one time. Guests can book their own personal trainer, and have a personalised measurement area to see how fit they are and which are suitable for them. One thing I did notice was that the area seemed to be full of expatriates, and not as many residing guests as one would have thought. For sure, the Kerry is definitely more of an up market apartment style for the expat community, and that’s why they also have one tower just for Kerry residences (again mostly for expats). They even have a dedicated children’s ‘Adventure Zone’, almost like a mini Disneyland or Thorpe Park but without the Disney characters. This is the place where rich parents can leave their kids for the day (so they don’t have to bother with them), and go to work or shopping.
The Spa offers a pro-active and multi-disciplinary approach to physiotherapy, restorative massage, and skincare all inspired by the Chinese martial arts of Wudang Wushu. What’s interesting about all the spa treatments here is that they all begin with a Tai Chi exercise. Not too difficult, but it’s designed to loosen up the tired muscles and to make the legs and arms a bit more flexible. After the initial Tai Chi exercise, it is time to go for the actual massage treatment which itself is a journey that provides a sheer heaven for the sense. Does it make you look younger? Maybe not, but it defiantly makes you feel younger!
With those thoughts in mind, I can say that the Kerry Hotel, Pudong is more fun and jazzy compared to other hotels in the city. So yes, looks can indeed be deceptive. Just make sure you don’t come here intending to take photos of a beautiful building from the outside though.
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