The Middle House Shanghai review: Why Swire Hotels’ Jing’an jewel is the only place to stay during Shanghai Fashion Week (and beyond)
Far from middling
If Shanghai’s Middle House hotel were a person, she’d likely be your jaw-droppingly pretty — and pretty self-aware — friend. She’s far from obnoxious about her love for the finer things in life, is unfailingly elegant in presentation, and makes you feel at ease and at home with each interaction. Let’s get down to business. Everything about this place is seriously Instagrammable, from the gorgeous, subterranean pool (part of the hotel’s wellness concept, Mi Xun Spa | The Lab | Shop) to the residences’ grand spiral staircase, and to the Patrick Bateman-baiting bathrooms (we defy you not to practice your own version of American Psycho’s opening monologue as you groom yourself in the morning).
However, The Middle House isn't just a pretty face. There are compelling reasons for which the British Fashion Council (with designers Roksanda Ilincic and Peter Pilotto in tow) and the Business of Fashion teams set up camp there during Shanghai Fashion Week’s most recent edition. It’s the little details that make all the difference; every spacious, walk-in wardrobe at The Middle House is equipped with a tasteful, all-black brolly, a surprisingly efficient steam iron — there’s nothing worse than a wrinkled travel wardrobe, especially for the control freaks among us — and a Lululemon yoga mat and weights for morning stretches/pre-gym routine warm-ups. No conceivable need was left unaddressed.
There are enough aged-gold USB charging ports scattered around each room for the most device-promiscuous of tech addicts, alongside necessary-if-unsightly appliances or amenities, which were made to conform to the highest aesthetic standards. Case in point: Spare loo rolls are stored within black cylindrical cases that blend into the bathroom walls, for Pete’s sake. Suspended from the ceiling by each bedside is a tasselled, French blue pull cord which serves as a master switch, so you can grandiosely retire for the night in style. And we haven't even left the rooms yet (nor did we want to, really, during our stay).
Starving fashion-folk stereotypes easily go out the window, with a quick scan of any of the hotel's dining establishments. At The Middle House, it's chic to devour with gusto. With Café Gray Deluxe, one may start the day luxuriously with a breakfast of mouth-watering xiao long baos and slow-cooked eggs with truffles and mashed potatoes; by night, however, CGD becomes your go-to for tipples and finger food, chief among them the soft-as-clouds duck and pork belly buns. Also connected to The Middle House are Sui Tang and Frasca, each serving Shanghainese and Italian cuisine prepared with a light hand; expect to accessorise many food babies during your stay, and dress accordingly — you've been warned.
And now, onto even more pampering. Pool, gym, steam room and sauna aside, Mi Xun Spa | The Lab | Shop's Cha Ling face and body treatments are worth a few visits, at least. After two consecutive fashion weeks that left us feeling worse for wear (we admit to going full Emily-Blunt's-"I love my job"-moment-from The Devil Wears Prada towards the tail end of things), a session at Mi Xun was restorative in every sense of the word. Our only complaint, if any? That we needed to have run ourselves ragged in the first place, to truly appreciate the magic of a stay at The Middle House. The answer in this case, is yes — we'll gladly do it again.