The Longemont Shanghai
Commission: 10 percent
Average room rates start at $440 per night, not including a 15 percent service charge.
Click here to read about a spa getaway in the middle of Shanghai
While embarking on my first trip to Shanghai, friends and family who had gone there previously all wanted to know: "Where are you staying?"
When I told them, "The Longemont Shanghai," they’d nod, puzzled, and say, "Hmm, never heard of it. Did you check out the Web site?"
"I tried," I’d tell them, embarrassed that my Google research skills didn’t cut the muster. "But I didn’t find much at all on it."
"Well," they’d say, "Hope it’s nice!"
A Corner Suite at The Longemont Shanghai offers amazing views of the city.
"Nice" didn’t even begin to describe it. The skyscraper hotel was beautiful, even when our group arrived at its doorstep at 2:30 in the morning, right in the middle of a September rainstorm.
Once inside, we were greeted warmly by hotel management who quickly took care of our room keys and luggage. I was immediately taken aback by the size and elegance of the lobby, especially the way its bronzed awnings wrapped around the ceiling as though they formed a conch shell. Soon, each of us headed straight toward the elevators, climbing 30 or more stories, eager to settle into our rooms and relax before the sun came out.
As soon as it did — and I finally shook off some of my jet lag — I peered outside my room’s floor-to-ceiling windows, simply in awe of the numerous tall buildings that filled the horizon.
For a hotel that first debuted in 2005, The Longemont Shanghai still looks fresh and modern with its minimal Euro design aesthetic, tempered by soft Chinese influences.
In my King Room, a delicate, gray Chinese silkscreen hung above the plush bed, framed by blonde-colored wood. Frosted glass sliding doors enclosed a large, gray marble bathroom, equipped with a circular Vichy shower and a deep bathtub. I loved some of the smaller touches, too, from the fresh fruit placed next to the couch to the gigantic sliver golf umbrella in every closet. There were so many different buttons for controlling the lights in the room that I often got confused, but it was definitely comforting just knowing I had that kind of control.
All 511 guestrooms within the 53-story property come with state-of-the-art, 42-inch plasma televisions, iPod docking stations, a fully stocked minibar, a safe and complimentary high-speed Internet access. Of those 511 rooms, 419 are considered deluxe and premium with anywhere from 452 to 485 square feet of space; and six executive suites measure up to 1,238 square feet in space.
It was only after I did some exploring that I realized why my Internet searches on The Longemont weren’t very successful. In July, only two months prior to my visit, the hotel’s management contract with Carlson Hotels Asia Pacific expired, so the hotel’s name was changed from The Regent Shanghai to The Longemont Shanghai and a brand-new Web site was under construction. That’s why I still saw remnants of the Regent throughout my stay there — from the complimentary water bottles to the key card holders. As confusing as it might have been, it was nice to know the new hotel management wasn’t about to throw all that away, just for a name change (the hotel is still owned by Summit Property Development).
The Web site wasn’t the only thing under construction, either. The Regent Shanghai’s Guerlain Spa was in the process of being converted into a brand-new Dikara Spa, which is scheduled to open in mid-November. And the hotel’s Shanghai "V" Restaurant was undergoing renovations to transform into the new Royal China Club (now open), slated as a top Cantonese restaurant from London. Still, there were a number of options for dining and unwinding at the hotel.
By far, my favorite meal of the day was found at The Longemont’s O2on2, an all-day, international buffet. Breakfast was a veritable smorgasbord of all things Asian and Western, from comforting congee (rice porridge soup) and siu lom bao (Shanghainese soup dumplings) to American classics like omelets, bacon and hash browns. On that same level, clients will also find Amici, an authentic Italian restaurant, and cigar aficionados will appreciate the cleverly named CO2 cigar bar.
And, for clients who want to indulge further, the hotel also offers exclusive club room access for an additional $56 on top of the daily room rate. The Club Lounge, which occupies half of the 48th floor, offers exceptional city views and luxurious service, from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. It’s perfect for jet-setting business clients who want their own little retreat from all-day conferences and meetings. The hotel boasts the largest ballroom in the Shanghai Puxi District and can cater events for up to 1,200 people.
A rainy afternoon spent at the Lobby Lounge yielded a satisfying high tea, complete with Shanghainese green tea, decadent petit fours and filling finger sandwiches. I could have sat all day in the lounge’s soft, high-back velvet chairs just listening to the piano. On the lobby floor, there’s also Tongs, a chic cafe that serves Chinese and French-style pastries and chocolates as well as coffee.
To work off all those calories, clients can head to the 26th floor and work up a sweat in the fully equipped gym or do a few laps in the spectacular, 99-foot long, heated, indoor Infinity pool. In sunnier weather, they can opt for a few games of tennis on the sixth floor’s outdoor courts.
With so many things to do and see within the hotel itself, your clients might never want to leave it. But, should they wish to explore Shanghai and the hotel’s environs, they’ll be well-rewarded. The hotel, which is located in the Changning District, is close to the city’s quaint French Concession neighborhood and most major tourist sites, including the famous Nanjing shopping road.
So, now that The Longemont Shanghai has had a little more time to settle into its new name, I’m certain it’s a place you and your clients won’t soon forget about it, either.