W Shanghai - The Bund: Making waves on China's famous waterfront
It's a cool autumn day in Shanghai. While grey and potential gloom washed over the skies, I decided that bad weather wasn't going to ruin the high hopes I had for my first ever W experience — at W Shanghai - The Bund. Prior to my trip, I had heard fantastical tales about the W brand aesthetic — along the lines were words of 'bold', 'on-trend', 'stunning' — basically everything a millennial (like me, admittedly) would want in a hotel.
Boy, were the rumours right. Red was the first thing I saw as I walked through the revolving doors of the main entrance — and not in an ostentatious manner but in stylish fashion, also mirrored in the walls and installations in the hotel. There was a neon-lit cluster of street signs hanging down from above, a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Shanghai's alleyways — where one can always find laundry and underwear propped up to dry. It sparked eclectic elements of colonial glamour and cool futuristic motifs.
I got a lift up five storeys to the W floor, where my check-in process was swift and smooth. This is where all the magic happens (which I later discovered). Enter posh white glossy floors, and a reception area bathed in a similar colour palette. The first thing you'll notice is their cute mascot — a chubby bulldog statue donning a pair of sunglasses. The W floor is your one-stop floor which leads the way to fulfil your food, drink, spa, and fitness needs, cleverly sprawled in different directions.
The rooms at W Shanghai - The Bund are a great deal of fun. For starters, a majority of the 374 guestrooms here let on a spectacular view of the Huangpu River, all thanks to the unique curved frame of the building. Straying away from what hoteliers would term 'The Beige Age', the rooms, as with every W establishment, are anything but dull. Mine had bold pops of red that shone through the carpets, tinted bathroom walls, and generous sofa space. Irresistibly chic and tech-savvy (complete with automated toilet-seat covers opening, closing and then flushing without any buttons to press). Some might call it lazy, but I call it modern-day luxury at its best.
Alas, food — the thing that brings joy to all our faces. The Kitchen Table boasts a sumptious breakfast buffet as well as ala carte options. Steak, seafood, the list goes on. Feeling thirsty? There's always the luxurious Woo Bar, taking centre stage at the W floor (we told you the magic happens here) — which features a spacious lounge with a resident DJ in place. Safe to say, your tipple needs will be well taken care of here, especially with the assurance of Music Director Mr. Haz — "It's B&F here instead of F&B. The drinks come first." That sounds just about right.
Guests after a massage will be delighted to find Away Spa, a hip cavern decked in a clean, minimalist white colour theme. Therapists in this relaxation haven are attentive and are well-trained to cater your massage to your personal comfort level. Tip: Flag everything during the consultation process and you'll be in heaven for the rest of it.
Lastly, keeping trim is a big deal for a large group of millennials. Instead of merely offering a luxurious gym, guests can check themselves into their very own spin studio, as well as yoga classes. My takeaway? An extra hour sweating it off for every extra glass of bubbly I had the night before.
The most alluring part of W Shanghai - The Bund was that it dared to be different. From challenging the East-meets-West mantra with powerful juxtapositions, to leaving guests with an element of surprise at every turn — the brand has undoubtedly reinvented the purpose of hotels. Instead of just being somewhere to rest your head at, this swanky new W hotel is certainly an attraction of its own in the glittering city of Shanghai.