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Shanghai surprise: Journey to the westin

updated: 2013-08-12

CRI, August 12, 2013

The imposing and iconic Westin Bund Center Shanghai. [Photo: Rob Hemsley]

Only two blocks from the colonial wharves and stone-clad structures of the Bund, The Westin Bund Center Shanghai combines the service one might expect from a bygone era of elegance with the modern amenities one would expect from a five star hotel in a booming metropolis. The hotel sits inside the iconic Bund Center Complex, rising high above the western bank of the Huangpu River. This prime location means that many of the 570 rooms and suites gaze across the water to the epic skyscrapers on the opposite bank. Other rooms enjoy similarly spectacular views, of the nearby Yuyuan Garden (a tranquil must-see site) and the bustling city beyond.

Rooms are located in two post-modern 26-storey towers, with luxury waiting behind every door. If you've ever stayed in a Westin before, you'll know about their trademark Heavenly Beds ?C which are so popular they're now available for purchase. (I might just get one myself.) The bathrooms, too, are of the highest order, with no expense spared when it comes to creating an environment of relaxation. At the end of a busy day of sightseeing or a gruelling few hours engaged in business, you have one more choice to make: the walk-in rainforest shower or the deep-soaking bathtub. (If you can't make a decision, of course, just enjoy both.) And to add to the spa feel, you'll have a fluffy bathrobe and slippers waiting for you on arrival, as well as the Westin's very own White Tea bath amenities.

If a bath and shower just won't cut it, there's also the Banyan Tree Spa. And for those who still have some energy, or who have overindulged at the splendid breakfast buffet (more on that in an upcoming article), you can head down to the fitness complex. Hotels, it must be said, don't usually make much of an effort when it comes to fitness facilities ?C but The Westin Bund Center Shanghai is a happy exception for all those who enjoy pumping iron or swimming laps in their home away from home. The gym is decked out with the latest contraptions, from fancy exercise bikes and stair climbers to rowing machines and weight stations. Then there's the pool area, which enjoys a solid wall of natural light during the day and a stunning view of those three mega skyscrapers on the other side of the river. (Check out my photos to see for yourself.) There's also a series of Jacuzzis, whirlpools, a sauna and a steam room. You could literally spend your whole trip down there.

Once you've pumped iron or had a swim (or wallowed in the whirlpool), you'll be in need of some hearty food ?C and the hotel certainly doesn't disappoint on that front, either. For genteel chit-chats at any time of day, there's the lobby bar Heavenlies. Surrounded by pools of bubbling water and the gentle strains of live piano music, it's a bright and breezy place to enjoy a delightful afternoon tea or ?C if you're more like me ?C an ice-cold cocktail or six. (Look out for their happy hour deals.)

For those who enjoy watching the culinary masters at work, The Stage is a great place to hang out and savour all manner of unique and wonderful dishes (as well as some old classics) from around the globe. There's also Prego, with its open kitchen and mouth-watering array of authentic Italian dishes that deserve an article in their own right. And finally, if that's not enough to tempt the palate, there's the garden-style EEST, which features an Asian triple whammy of Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine. You can literally eat your way around the world.

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