Hyatt On The Bund – A Review By Punam Mohandas
As the name suggests, the Hyatt on the Bund is situated near the Bund area overlooking the Huang Pu river, which is hugely popular among the Shanghainese themselves.
One enters into a very spacious, square-shaped lobby that has an atrium roof. The Hyatt here has gone in for a very modernistic effect of polished chrome and glass look and a few funky seats in pistachio green and white. One of the marvels of this hotel is that the lifts leading to the rooms are glass-panelled on the outer side, so that one gets some sweeping city views as one ascends to the top floors. Quite an experience!
Thickly carpeted corridors lead to the rooms. There are blown glass artefacts placed near the lifts as also complimentary bowls of fruit and thoughtful paper serviettes. Although all Shanghai hotels are non-smoking by government order, there is a whiff of cigarette smoke in the corridors; probably the smell has been absorbed by the carpeting and persists.
Accommodation consists of 620-rooms, of which 80% have a river view. The room categories are as follows: King Room; River View Room; Club Room; Suite; River View Suite; Diplomat Suite; Presidential Suite and Chairman Suite. The latter two are both one bedroom suites, with dining room, reading room, kitchen, walk-in closet and guest powder room; the only difference between them is in size and décor and the fact that the Presidential Suite has a Jacuzzi in the bathroom, whereas the Chairman Suite has it on the terrace.
One is greeted by a white lamp in the shape of a huge seashell and a stunning expanse of the river as soon as one steps into the River View Suite. From this room, one can see both sides of Shanghai – Pudong and Puxi – and of course, the Bund area. There is a full-length mirror placed between the inner and outer doors to the suite. The writing desk overlooks the river as well. Cozy intimate sofa seating complements dark grey gauze curtains. There are two large screen television sets, one in either room. The bathroom is really large, with a walk-in closet, round bathtub and twin square washbasins. The minibar area is separate, between the bedroom and bathroom and quite well equipped, with nuts, wine and espresso machine.
I stayed in a River View King room, which had an absolutely spectacular view of the Huang Pu river, with the delicately built Oriental Pearl Tower seeming near enough to touch! This is quite a large room, sensibly appointed and done up in fawn with tarnished silver gauzy drapes, with a couple of low armchairs and footstool by by the window overlooking the river. Simple yet tasteful decor, of three blown glass globes on a shelf above the bed and long conical hanging lamp beside bed and low chair. The washbasin area is open plan, with the mini bar to the other side facing the bed – very sensible use of space. Next to the washbasin is a cramped closet area. The bathtub and shower are in the same space, while the next cubicle has the WC. The drain is cleverly cut into the side of the bathtub, so that one doesn’t see the usual ugly round drain hole.
All rooms are provided with June Jacobs toiletries and equipped with four complimentary bottles of drinking water; large screen television; minibar; tea/coffee maker; electronic safe; iron and ironing board and weighing scale. The pillows are the floppy kind, where all the mass shifts out to the side as soon as you lay your head down; quite uncomfortable and perhaps the hotel should look into this or arrange for pillow menus. There are no umbrellas placed in the rooms, which is odd, given that Shanghai enjoys such mercurial rainy weather! Guests are encouraged to ask at the concierge desk should they need one. The hotel also has a Housekeeping app, where amenities can be requested for.
All bathrooms have bathtubs and rain showers but no jet sprays. Also, while the towels are white enough, the linen has a brownish tinge. Strangely, there is no evening turndown service at the Hyatt on the Bund.
F&B options include the 220-covers, all-day dining Aroma, which serves a really extensive breakfast – it’s like walking half a mile to check everything out! Juice Bar is on the lower lobby level, across the Yuan Spa; the 56-covers Tea Room is just off the lobby and serves afternoon tea, while Xindalu, the 120-covers China kitchen serving Shanghainese cuisine, is at the opposite end. Done up in sophisticate black, with an open kitchen concept, the Peking duck served here is famous and something the Shanghainese rave about as well. Xindalu also offers other unusual, gimmicky dishes, such as chicken cooked in clay (orders should be placed a day in advance.) I very much enjoyed the spicy prawns with hot red chillies and cashew nuts that the chef put together for me.
The 96-covers Vue restaurant offers western cuisine and wine cellar. A stunning array of ceramic plates and jugs lined up all along the walls, greets guests as soon as they step out of the lifts. It’s just like walking into an art gallery! This outlet is done up like an exclusive club, with books lining the walls, more fantastic collections of pipes, corks and corkscrews on display, with sofa and armchair seating in small, intimate clusters. Both the gallery as well as the restaurant overlook the river and there is also a narrow balcony in case guests want to step outside for a better view.
The 36-covers Vue Dining also overlooks the river and offers Cantonese food. Pea green and red seating along a pale grey painted corridor leads to the dining room, which has chairs in black and beige upholstery. There are four smaller private dining rooms available as well, with a maximum capacity of 20pax.
The Vue Bar has a clear sign at the entrance that states: ‘NOT 18 NO ALCOHOL.’ Wine bottles placed on racks and wine casks line the corridor that has simulated brick walls. The outlet has 200-covers but can extend up to 350. A wooden staircase leads to the top that is designed like a gazebo and has an open air Jacuzzi! Quite a concept. Non-resident guests need to pay a cover charge of RMB110, which includes one drink. Most surprisingly, children are allowed into the bar and the rooftop Jacuzzi as well! This place definitely needs tighter security much like rooftop bars in Bangkok have. There are staff around but more are needed, especially near the glass rail shield given that the bar is absolutely packed on weekend nights and more so that there are screaming children running around, which makes it all the harder to keep track of what everyone is up to!
Relaxation facilities include an extremely large indoor pool, with a Jacuzzi to the side. The gym is also really huge and very well kitted out, with lots of fancy equipment. A placid water body leads to the Yuan Spa, which has extremely hushed interiors. There are ten treatment rooms here, one of which is twin-bedded. Two rooms have Jacuzzis, while all have shower facilities. There are separate steam and sauna facilities for men and women. The oil massages and the deep tissue therapies are very popular here. The Yuan Spa uses Phytomer and Valmont products in its treatments.
Apart from this, there is a boutique as well as hair salon on the lower lobby level.
Convention facilities include ten meeting rooms, all with natural lighting and the largest of which can accommodate 112pax theatre style. The Hyatt on The Bund actually offers a choice of two ballrooms either side of the lobby: the Bund Ballroom (400pax) and the Grand Ballroom (900pax.) There is free wifi across the Hyatt on the Bund; do remember that social media, including Google and therefore Gmail, is banned in China. People get around this by downloading VPN’s – do bear in mind this is illegal. However, WeChat is allowed.
Most of the front-of-house staff speak English. The Front Office staff are smiling and efficient, while the concierge team is quite helpful. Housekeeping is not very friendly or courteous. The F&B team are very cheerful and resourceful, particularly during the busy breakfast service, however, the chefs during the same period are rather grouchy. Pest control is effective.
The Hyatt is not directly on the Bund but near it; about a seven minute walk to the Waibadu bridge, which is the oldest bridge in Shanghai. Nevertheless, the rooms offer some breathtaking and sweeping river panoramas. The hotel is located on the north side of the Bund and hence, one gets a birds-eye view of the Oriental Pearl Tower, once of the iconic landmarks of the city. The Monument to the People’s Heroes is on the Bund, near the hotel, while the Shanghai Tower – the highest in China and second highest in the world – is located at the south end of the Bund. You can also do river cruises from the Bund (RMB 120 per person for a 50-minute cruise.) Just below it is the Bund tunnel (you need to buy tickets) and beside it are popular eateries such as Subway, Starbucks and suchlike. The famed Yuyuan Gardens are about a 20-minute walk away, or else, you can take a taxi – there is no metro between the Hyatt and Yuyuan. The gardens itself are well-known with some temples, moreover, there is another huge market here mainly for souveniers, frequented by domestic as well as foreign tourists. Be warned that there is plenty of walking to be done here, so wear sensible footwear. If you’re looking at boutique shopping, head to west Nanjing road where all the global brands have a presence. However, if it’s cheap shopping (fakes and souveniers) you’re wanting, then head to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum metro station, with its AP Xinyang market – a huge, bustling fake goods market within the station premises. For further information, please consult the Hyatt’s reliable concierge Tyrone who is a holder of the coveted Golden Keys; these are the elite, the crème de la crème among concierges and part of the Les Clefs d’Or association.
Most major airlines fly into Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport, while a few fly into Hongqiao Airport. Don’t be alarmed by what you read regarding distances; Pudong is certainly not unmanageable. You can take the Pudong Airport Shuttle Bus into the city, to east Nanjing stop (80-minutes, fare, RMB22 per person) however, my sincere recommendation would be to take the Maglev. The Maglev is billed as the fastest train in the world, going at a speed of 431kms per hour! It takes only eight minutes to get to Longyang road, from which you connect to Line 2 for the Hyatt (get off at east Nanjing stop.) The ticket is not expensive either – remember, you get a 20% discount if you can show your air ticket for the same date. With this discount, the Maglev ticket is only RMB 40 per person, however, if you take the combination Maglev + one day Metro pass, it is only RMB 55 per person (The one day pass itself is usually RMB 18.)
HYATT ON THE BUND
TEL: + 86 21 6393 1234
FAX: + 86 21 6393 1313
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.