Review: Capella Shanghai – Offers the most Shanghainese experience


Shanghai is a dynamic and fascinating city to visit both for leisure or business. Abundant hotels, restaurants, and attractions cater to all types of clientele and wallets, while the modern subway system and gazillions of taxis help make this gigantic city your oyster. For the pure Shanghai experience, rent bikes from one of the many ride-sharing programs and ride the charming tree-lined streets of the historical district.

The newly-opened Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li is a unique property in Shanghai: far from cookie-cutter buildings and predictable room layouts, this luxury boutique hotel offers traditional shikumen living in the very heart of Shanghai’s cultural preservation zone of Xuhui. A myriad of interconnected 2-story homes and narrow alleyways built in the 1930s now house 55 villas, a traditional French bakery, meeting facilities, and celebrity-Chef Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurant. Capella is in the top 5 of favorite brands among Travel+Leisure readers, here is why.

The intimate lobby at Capella Shanghai
Culture and fun at the Capella Library
Pastries, drinks, and appetizers are complimentary all day long at the Capella Library

CHECK-IN
The intimate lobby is located on the inner courtyard, in a beautiful red brick building. This colorful piazza once was a bustling produce market for residents of the neighborhood. Inside, your Personal Assistant will check you in within minutes with your passport and a deposit authorized on your international credit card. Adjacent to the lobby is the signature Capella Library, a place of culture and socialization where books, drinks, and delicious pastries are available to guests. Sip on your tea and refresh with a towelette before walking the small lanes of the gorgeous property towards the gate of your private villa.

Charming lanes leading to the villas
Chinese gate to your private shikumen
A little patio greets you as you step into your villa

SHIKUMEN VILLA KING
Every room at the Capella Shanghai is a private 1-, 2-, or 3-bedroom villa with more than 80 years of existence. Open the room gate – yes, a gate – with your key card and step on a cute little patio, very typical of Shanghai’s old lane houses.

Red French doors to enter the villa
Your elegant formal living room
Control your environment via the smart panels located throughout the room

Then step inside your formal living room, complete with a guest bath. Elegant furniture, gilded wallpaper and light fixtures, and dark wood floors bring Art Deco back to life and transport you to the golden era of Shanghai.

A large day bed invites you to relax after a long day downtown
Smart TV meets traditional tea set
Well-appointed minibar

From there on, climb your way up to a cozy TV room, boasting an inviting day bed, smart TV and large minibar with complimentary teas, coffees, and soft drinks; spirits are available for purchase. Inviting and relaxing, this space could belong in a spa, a lounge, or someone’s private residence.

King bed with raw silk runner
View towards the walk-in closet
General view of the bedroom including desk, bed, and lounge areas

One short flight of stairs up is the bedroom. Enjoy a vast walk-in closet, a desk area, a large traditional sofa, and your very own king bed. Materials feel authentic, rich, and of pure quality. You will also enjoy bonus amenities like a Bose Bluetooth speaker, a yoga mat, and the famous Shanghai Snow Cream – a well-kept secret from Shanghainese ladies of the 80s.

Marble sink
Soaking tub and bath salts
Aqua Di Parma amenities

The bathroom is another half floor up. Bright and light, it offers a soaking tub, a walking shower, and a separate toilet. Although we would have loved a double sink, we know building within heritage sites calls for compromises. Amenities are countless and rich, especially the Aqua Di Parma shower and bath sets.

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Power outlets are concealed in furniture throughout the room
Your very own roof deck overlooking Shanghai’s old neighborhoods
The décor at Capella Shanghai celebrates Art Deco

Bonus features: Many power outlets and adaptors are conveniently located throughout the room to keep your devices charged at all times. Your room includes a private rooftop terrace overlooking the roofs of the Former French Concession and the neighboring high-rises. Like in most parts of the resort, artworks are originals, blending East and West cultures, with a taste for local and historic artists. Finally, soaring ceilings give a grand feeling to the room.

Delicious appetizers and starters
Beautifully executed main dishes of lamb and lobster
Chocolate desserts are an all-time favorite at le Comptoir

DINNER AT LE COMPTOIR DE PIERRE GAGNAIRE
We decided to book a table for dinner at Pierre Gagnaire’s newest establishment. Acclaimed for his restaurants in France, Hong Kong, and Las Vegas among others, Michelin-starred Chef Gagnaire created an upscale bistro-style eatery with an emphasis on original savors and honest products, elevated by local ingredients.

Le Bar
Le Bar delicious drinks

Before or after dinner, indulge in a cocktail at Le Bar and enjoy quality time with your close ones. Prices at the restaurant and Le Bar are very reasonable for such a venue in Shanghai and prove to attract high-end Chinese and foreigners.

Quite a unique table to score in Shanghai’s urban jungle
The downstairs French bakery delivers fresh breads, pastries and viennoiseries to le Comptoir
Part of the selection of the complimentary breakfast at Capella Shanghai

COMPLIMENTARY BREAKFAST
Guests of Shikumen Villas receive complimentary breakfast at le Comptoir. Enjoy pastries and viennoiseries from the downstairs bakery as well as a selection of cold cuts, cheeses, and yogurts to go with your coffee, juice, or mimosa! An a la carte menu offers sweet and savory options. One a la carte item per guest is included with breakfast.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li is a truly unique property in the global city hotel scene. A genuine sense of place emanates from the charming alleyways and ancient brick buildings. Staff are smiling, helpful, and visibly proud to work in such a landmark. At only 55 keys, the resort’s intimate setting and spaces make it feel warm and exclusive – something that has been lost in the exponential hospitality expansion seen in China.

Where: Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li (A member of the Leading Hotels of the World)
480 West Jianguo Road,
Shanghai 200031 China

Note– The critic was invited by the Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li. But all the opinions expressed herewith are his own.

GeoffreyGeoffrey Ravoire
Founder of UNITIATE, Geoffrey is a Marketing Expert, Luxury Specialist and Hospitality Enthusiast. Wherever he goes, his early career and personal interests have always helped him nurture and cultivate a passion for the Travel and Leisure industries. French born, Geoffrey has accumulated an extensive experience abroad, thanks to regular visits to foreign countries but also thanks to years of expatriation. Currently based in Chicago, Geoffrey has already lived and worked in New York, Shanghai, Singapore and Monaco. You can meet Geoffrey on Twitter and Linkedin.

The luxe factor is

8.5 Location
9 Room
9 Dinner
8.5 Breakfast
9 Service
8.8