When the richest man in Asia opens an ultra-luxurious hotel on Shanghai’s historic Bund waterfront, there are bound to be certain expectations. Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s new hotel – Wanda Reign on the Bund – is already being hailed as Shanghai’s first 7-star hotel and guests are pampered with the finest comforts and extravagant indulgences that money can buy.
No expense s were spared to build the hotel with 193 guestrooms and 14 suites on 21 floors, costing $516 million and taking 3 years to complete. The exterior of the hotel was designed by acclaimed English architect Sir Norman Foster whose projects include such iconic buildings as The Gherkin in London and the Reichstag in Berlin.
While the exterior is modern glass and steel, the interiors celebrate Shanghai’s decadent history from the Roaring 20’s and Dirty 30’s when it was known as The Paris of the East. The 10m high grand lobby is luxuriously set with marble columns and jade inlaid floors in an Art Deco style.
Wang Jianlin is an art connoisseur, collector and strong supporter of Chinese culture. Throughout the hotel are contemporary works of art from well-known Chinese artists, specially commissioned for Wanda Reign on the Bund. The first art work guests will see is the stunning 8x8m Chinese ink painting in the lobby, titled “Splendid Orient”, an abstract expression of vibrant and modern Shanghai.
To the right of the lobby is the separate reception area.
In the guestrooms, there are more elements of Chinese design, such as magnolia embroidery on the bedroom wall and shimmering lotus flowers on the bathroom wall.
” Wanda Reign on the Bund is purposefully extravagant and opulent because it can be. This hotel is meant to be a playground for China’s rich and famous and they demand the very best. ”
Rooms are decorated with copious amounts of crystal, gold, jade and marble. The bed features a handmade Talalay latex mattress from the USA and tailor-made wool bedding from New Zealand. There’s an Ogawa massage chair in every suite so that guests can get a massage whenever they fancy. Every bathroom (even in the public areas) has a fully automatic Japanese toilet that opens the lid when you approach and flushes by itself when you leave, making the whole experience very pleasant. Bathrooms also have floor heating and heated towel racks. Even the selection of water was given special attention. Rooms are provided with VOSS water in glass bottles from Norway and suites have Perrier. For bath amenities, rooms have L’Occitane products and suites have Hermes.
While enjoying the finest luxuries in their room, guests can marvel by day and night at the gorgeous views of the Bund and Huangpu River at the heart of Shanghai.
Club Reign, An Exclusive Member’s Only Club
Club Reign, on the 2nd floor of Wanda Reign on the Bund offers an exclusive destination for Shanghai’s elites. Members enter a rarefied world bedecked in stain glass and jewels, reminiscent of Shanghai’s golden era.
” The Suzhou embroidery on the walls is especially impressive. Over one hundred embroiderers were employed to complete these figures of elegant Shanghai ladies. “
Facilities in Club Reign include a premium Wine & Cigar Bar, 4 private rooms at Universe KTV, 3 treatment suites at SHUI Spa, a gym and swimming pool.
If I were to find fault, I would say that the swimming pool is too small. After 4-5 strokes of front crawl and was already to the other side of the pool.
A Butler for Every Occasion
As per Wanda Reign’s principles of honoring traditional Chinese hospitality, guests can be provided with their very own butler. You may ask, what does a butler do? Well, if you even made the briefest mention in passing that you plan to wake up at a certain time to go for breakfast, your butler will be stationed outside your room at said time, ready to escort you to the breakfast room. Shall you have friends come to visit you at the golden palace that is Wanda Reign on the Bund, the butler will dutifully wait in the lobby to escort your friends to whichever lavish hotel outpost you are ensconced in. While you are out making merry, the butler will come to your room and turn on a scent diffuser with soothing lavender fragrance to help you sleep better.
” At first, I felt hesitant to use the butler, and slightly uncomfortable that there is someone waiting at my beck and call. But after 2 days, it is something you quickly grow fond of. “
You’ll want to take more than a passing glance at the elegant attire of the butlers and the staff at Wanda Reign on the Bund since they were designed by hot fashion couturier Laurence Xu who’s been making waves in the high fashion world for his fusion of ancient Chinese techniques with modern western flare. Most prominently, his beautiful gowns have been worn on the red carpet at Cannes by Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.
Restaurants and Bars
At Wanda Reign on the Bund, there is a choice of local and international restaurants for guests to satisfy their gourmet cravings.
Café Reign is an all-day dining restaurant with buffet breakfast featuring Shanghai favourites such as wontons, noodles and fried buns. Western dishes are also available and juices are freshly squeezed on demand. At lunch there is an à la carte menu and at night an All You Can Eat buffet where guests select from a menu and food is prepared per order.
River Drunk serves regional Chinese delicacies highlighting the fresh and abundant local seafood.
Rare whiskeys can be sampled in the Lobby Lounge.
On the 21st floor rooftop bar MARC, there are live DJ performances and guests can sip cocktails while gazing at panoramic views of Shanghai’s glittering nightline.
As for the hotel’s marquee restaurants, the honour goes to both HE Japanese Restaurant and MARC French Restaurant that Shanghai residents have already begun to frequent.
HE Japanese Restaurant, Pure Gastronomic Heaven
Only open at night, HE Japanese restaurant offers authentic edo-style sushi , served omakase by Tokyo native Chef Kikuchi Yoshiyuki.
Once you are seated, you will be offered sake and a tray of sake cups to choose from.
Then the omakase meal will begin with a parade of raw and grilled sashimi.
To serve the freshest sashimi of the highest quality is not difficult anymore. The true test of a sushi restaurant is in the taste, temperature and texture of the sushi rice.
” Nigiri sushi is where Chef Yoshi truly excels. He forms the smallest, daintiest nugget of rice I’ve ever encountered, giving the feeling that you are eating something very precious. “
The temperature of his rice is just above body temperature which is just warm enough to start melting the fat in the fish. The slices of fish were draped languorously over the rice and each grain of rice can be felt distinctly while the rice mound holds together firmly enough to be picked up by hand and plopped in your mouth. The taste of the rice is vinegary and sweet, complementing the gentle bite of the fresh wasabi and the saltiness of the soy sauce that Chef Yoshi brushes on.
” The otoro sushi, from the fattest part of the tuna, will fill your mouth with a luxurious oiliness. The combination of fish with sweet vinegary rice transcends and elevates the natural state of the fish. It was a heavenly bite of perfection.”
I was pleased to see the appearance of anago, a salt-water eel with a fluffy texture. One piece was salted and the other piece was brushed with a sweet sauce. Both were delicious.
I felt very privileged to be seated at the sushi counter and served by Chef Yoshi himself! Watching Chef Yoshi perform is part of the theatre of an omakase meal. He works with focused concentration, seeking perfection in every exquisite piece of sashimi or sushi he places in front of you. This theatre is not only goes in one direction. Chef Yoshi will observe your reactions to see which types of fish you like and if you are full yet. He will be delighted to see you enjoying the food that he so carefully prepared.
An omakase meal at HE Restaurant costs 1088RMB or 1538RMB, with more dishes and expensive cuts served for the higher price. These prices are on par with similar high-end sushi restaurants in Japan and
” I liked the taste of Chef Yoshi’s sushi rice better than what I’ve had in Japan.”
A Taste of French Haute Cuisine at MARC Restaurant
French cuisine has long been revered as one of the highest forms of cooking and Wanda Reign on the Bund has selected Michelin 2-star chef Marc Meneau to head their French restaurant MARC.
Legendary chef Marc Meneau from Burgundy has served distinguished guests such as Queen Elizabeth II, Richard Nixon and François Mitterrand and is famed for his modern re-interpretations of classic French cooking. His dishes are created with their original flavours in mind, and served with an exclusive selection of Burgundy wines. Prior to opening, Chef Meneau had spent time in the local produce markets of Shanghai to familiarize himself with local tastes and subsequently he will spend 1 week out of each month at the restaurant.
Your waiter will be glad to suggest wine pairings for each course of your meal. An amuse bouche of Oyster with Seawater Jelly was paired Veuve Clicquot Rosé.
This oyster amuse bouche is a Marc Meneau signature with a jelly made of sea water encasing a Gillardeau oyster sitting over a dollop of cream fraiche.
The appetizer of Beetroots, Langoustine and Wasabi Marshmallow was matched with a fresh and grassy Sauvignon Blanc from Australia.
The beetroot lended a vibrant colour to the dish and its soft texture was something to appreciate. The clean astringency of wasabi came through delicately in a creamy airy marshmallow puff. When you hit the comté cheese biscuit under the wasabi marshmallow you experience a warm golden glow from the strong cheese flavour. The small cylinders of langoustine were tenderly griled and smoky. They were wrapped in a brown paste which was a complete mystery to me. It seemed like dates or fig purée? When chef de cuisine Cyril Lenoir came out to check on me I just had to ask him what it was and he explained that
” they make a broth from langoustine heads and turn it into a paste to wrap the langoustine, thus using the ingredient to flavour itself. Very clever indeed! “
The “ravioli” has a cherry gelatine wrapping over warm cooked cherries, almond crumble and lime yogurt sorbet. It’s re-imagine form and presentation is elegant and creative but the tastes of warm spiced cherries and almond crumble are so familiar and comforting that it will bring you back to your childhood.
MARC restaurant impresses on all fronts, from food, wine to service and it is an appropriate match for Wanda Reign on the Bund.
” Wanda Reign on the Bund was created by a Chinese billionaire for a new breed of Chinese customers. “
These customers are connoisseurs, they are confident of their position in the world, proud of their own culture and also are not afraid to embrace foreign notions. If the finest cuisines in the world are French and Japanese, then they will have the best chefs cooking it in their hotel restaurants. If the cleanest purest water is from Norway, then guests shall have it in their rooms. If the most fantastic toilet in the world is Japanese, then yes, they shall have that too.
As I sat in Wanda Reign on the Bund’s bespoke Rolls Royce on my way to the airport, I mused about the 2 days I had just spent in this extravagant hotel. Yes, it was excessively over-the-top.
” Yes, Wanda Reign has riches beyond belief and is not ashamed of showing it. That is exactly the sentiment of the new China and Wanda Reign on the Bund is distinctly Chinese. “
Wanda Reign on the Bund currently has promotional rates starting at 3000RMB ($449USD) a night.
Where : Wanda Reign on the Bund (A member of the Preferred Hotels)
538 Zhong Shan Dong Er Road, Huangpu District,
Shanghai, P.R. China
Phone : +86 (021) 5368 8888