May 7, 2018

Further East
4 -min. read

Although once of the most westernised city in China, Shanghai has long since been reduced to the label of ‘The Oriental Paris’. However, the city is breaking down its niche reputation and is finally coming into its own. What is the cause for this change, you ask? Contemporary art and good hotels, that’s what.

With the openings of Capella, Aman, The Middle House, W and Edition in Shanghai, hotel-goers are never short for choice. However, for those who want to make the dive into local Shanghai neighbourhoods – and experience the local lifestyle without being engulfed by a mob of global travellers – these three hotels might be just the ticket.

Paper Shanghai: Meet the Creatives

Located at the bustling Huaihai road in Shanghai, Paper Shanghai is one of the most popular co-working and co-living hubs in Shanghai. Founder Jacopo Stecchini said, “We wanted to create a sanctuary where creatives could come and be inspired to produce their best work.” The original five-storey building dates back to the 1930s. After a well-planned renovation, it has been transformed into a modern urban oasis in the heart of the French concession. If you want to mingle with creative professionals in Shanghai, this is a good place to check-in.

The interior combines modern design and contemporary art. The first floor is the lobby and lounge area. Members enjoy simple, healthy food sourced from local vendors. From the second floor to the fourth floor, the different working spaces on offer include open desks, meeting rooms and relaxing areas, and are equipped with Magis chairs, Avante desks and Flos Lighting. What’s more, the detox room features blue styrofoam walls. The Dylan room and the pelican room are more for group discussions or catching up with friends or colleagues, complete with antiques, modern magazines and vintage vinyl records.

Rejuvenating boutique hotel rooms occupy the fifth floor.  Unlike in most typical hotels, these rooms have a homely vibe, inviting their guests to drop their bags, kick off their shoes and relax; and even enjoy a revitalising, hot shower with BLUE water and (MALIN+GOETZ) spa bath products before heading out of the door for their first meeting.

Onehome Art Hotel: Meet the Art Lovers

Everyone who’s anyone in Shanghai’s art world can be found at the event hosted at this hotspot. Hao Zheng – the owner of the hotel – is one of the most influential art collectors in Shanghai. He hopes to use his hotel to bridge the gap between art and life.


The architecture was designed by Guido Bondeilli from Florence. while the Orchid Café, the all-day dining area, are the combined works of American designer Gao Chaoyi and Japanese designer Ogawa Norio.  The AP Art bar is completely adorned with digital art. Each year, six to eight art exhibitions are hosted here, where guests can immerse themselves in a constellation of vibes and visual expressions.

Its 340 rooms are equipped with art pieces from over 120 artists around the world; meanwhile the whole hotel is home to a whopping total of 500 art pieces. However, the biggest surprise for art lovers might be the 26 Art suites decorated by world-class artists’ real art works, including Andy Warhol, Picasso, Dali, Gustav Klimt… The list goes on.

URBN Boutique Hotel: Meet Your Local Neighbours

Once an abandoned factory warehouse, URBN hotel is now a sustainable chic hotel in the French Concession area. Tucked away on a quiet street, the hotel is an oasis for local people, as well as travellers who want a real taste of authentic Shanghai life.

The public space is used as dining area. Cozy furniture and home-made style dishes make it feel more like a neighbourhood café.

Their 26 rooms guarantee a tranquil stay, while their recycled and locally sourced materials promote a ‘go-green’ attitude. Guests can find walls decorated with vintage suitcases and bricks from run-down buildings, and have access to a well-equipped gym that is open 24/7 . Stepping into the bright and spacious rooms, guests will discover the cozy, modern furniture and the view of the historical Shiku Men area from right outside their window.

Nancy Huang is Senior Features Editor for Condé Nast Traveler China.