Touch-down in Shanghai: getting ready for business

MAKING my way across Shanghai following a 12 hour flight from London and a six hour flight from Boston left me urgently desirous of a tranquil bedroom, soft bed and a deep bath. As I was heading to the Four Seasons, I figured the only obstacle to achieving these would be traffic – an elegantly comfortable retreat would be par for the course.

And of course it was, though on arrival I found that the FS Shanghai lacks the local character so beautifully captured at other Four Seasons properties. But if the room was slightly anonymous feeling (it could be any luxury hotel in the world) and the city view from the window typical Shanghai (a recently demolished neighborhood and tall buildings), then the bed and bath were, as I’d hoped, simply exquisite.

I needed a soak before unpacking and my mood lifted as the bath filled up incredibly rapidly. It was wonderfully deep and just wide and long enough to feel secure and loved.

Revived, I dried off, unpacked and headed to the restaurant for a late breakfast on the hotel’s top floor (37). On the right was a Chinese breakfast with congee (a rice porridge), dumplings and cruellers; on the left a European breakfast including cereals, dried fruits, delicious breads and honey and jam. After filling my plate, I embedded myself in a comfortable leather bucket chair adjacent to a low table and peered at a spectacular view of Shanghai.

I had a day at my disposal before my meetings began. So, clean and well-fed, I went downstairs to consult with a very helpful concierge who spoke excellent English. I decided that I would take the metro number 2 to the aquarium in the centre of Shanghai by the famous post office tower, then on to the “fabric” area where one can buy silks by the yard, and have clothes tailored within a multi-story building dedicated to that purpose.

I struggled to buy a ticket on the metro but once on the platform, the system seemed efficient and reasonable for a non-Chinese speaker to navigate. The aquarium was fun. Lots of families with inquisitive children examined huge groupers and tiny seahorses with awe and excitement. The fabric district contained a bewildering number of stalls with vendors calling out bargains. I found myself in a corner stall from which I bought five metres of silk for a reasonable (but definitely not a give-away) price. Perhaps I should have bargained harder. Next I had a cup of tea with a lady who sold me 500g of jasmine tea balls with a big, rather toothless smile.

Jet lag was setting in and it was time to return to the hotel.

I was too early for my spa treatment so I decided to try out the hotel swimming pool. The 20m, glass-walled pool had access to a roof top patio – it is a must on any visit. Once in the spa, an hour’s treatment with hot stones and strong fingers turned me into a spa sycophant, an admirer, an advocate – I felt like I was reborn. I was so taken by my experience that I arranged to have a foot massage the next morning before beginning my first round of meetings.

After dinner at the perfectly fine Si Ji Xuan Restaurant (there are American and Japanese restaurants, too, which may have been better) I slept extremely well in my soft-as-silk bed.

If you are a business traveller, jet lag and a long journey by plane needs to be put behind you quickly. As such, the Four Seasons is the perfect gateway to a productive and interesting visit to Shanghai. Although I recommend you eat dinner in the city, I highly recommend the Four Seasons for comfort, the spa and the efficient, friendly service. From £199, per room per night, on a room only basis. To book, go to fourseasons.com/shanghai.