It's been quite the year of boutique and luxury hotel openings for Shanghai, what with
, and we're only just halfway through 2018. The latest to join the fray is
, which opened on Tuesday (July 31) in its digs just off The Bund.
A relatively new global hotel brand EDITION Hotels is a partnership between Marriott International and hotelier Ian Schrager. Schrager's name is spoken almost with a sort of hushed, celebrity awe throughout the hotel, but if you don't know who he is, the quick rundown is that he first gained fame through co-founding the New York City disco nightclub Studio 54 in the late '70s and now he makes really gorgeous, hip boutique hotels throughout the world (see: Miami's Delano South Beach, West Hollywood's Mondrian Hotel, Public Hotel New York and of course now, the portfolio of EDITION hotels).
Photograph: Annie Lin
The Shanghai EDITION is one of three that the brand is opening at the moment, with the other locations in Barcelona and in Times Square, complementing its existing New York City spot in the Flatiron District. Whereas the much-lauded London EDITION has one restaurant Berners Tavern, a lobby bar and its reservation-only Punch Room bar, Shanghai's going for the over-the-top excess that we do best, with nine lifestyle spaces – meaning restaurants, bars and a full-on nightclub.
The hotel is set in two refurbed Art Deco buildings on Nanjing Dong Lu, one of which was once the Shanghai Power Company's headquarters and the other housed East China Electric Power. Its 145 rooms, a high-end Japanese restaurant and one of the rooftop bars occupy one building, while the other is filled with the rest of the restaurants and bars as well as the nightclub, named Electric Circus
with a nod towards the buildings' heritage.
Photograph: Yang Xiaozhe
The EDITION has Jason Atherton on board to oversee the hotel's three restaurant concepts: Shanghai Tavern
and Canton Disco
. You probably know Atherton, or at least his food, from other Shanghai spots like The Commune Social
and the now-shuttered Table No. 1. He's also got going on 20 different restaurants scattered around the globe and is behind the restaurants at EDITION's London and New York outposts. He's brought chefs Scott Melvin and Christopher Pitts over with him, who've both been working on his Shanghai projects for a number of years. Melvin will be running the overall restaurant programme at EDITION while Pitts is leading the charge for the Japanese concept HIYA.
Photograph: Yang Xiaozhe
Shanghai Tavern is loosely based on The London EDITION's very successful Berners Tavern, which offers contemporary British cuisine. 'We've tried to step it up a gear and bring back the old fashioned grill rooms from the 1920s,' says Atherton about Shanghai Tavern, 'what existed in London, New York, all the big cities where there was a lot of trolley work, a lot of interaction, but the food was quite simple and elegant. We're really focusing on core ingredients and not trying to do too many garnishes with it. The idea is, you order the lamb and you can have potatoes with it if you like – French fries, creamed spinach, whatever you want pretty much – but the emphasis is, like with the lamb for example, just aubergine, the lamb, the sauce, that's it.'
Japanese concept HIYA on the hotel's 27th floor comes off the back of Atherton's London spot Sosharu. 'We're calling it HIYA because of the view. It's got such an amazing view we wanted to emphasise the view and "hiya" means "view" in Japanese. That's our smallest restaurant; it's only 60 seats. It's a tiny restaurant, really cute, half the size of the one in London,' explains Atherton. 'It reminds me a little bit of like Lost in Translation, the movie. You can see all over Shanghai.' The idea is refined and high-end ('we only use Zalto glass up there'), with both an a la carte and a tasting menu.
Atherton sourced outside expertise for the third restaurant Canton Disco. The hotel's Chinese concept is a collaboration with, and led by, Hong Kong restaurant group Black Sheep and the crew behind its modern Cantonese spot Ho Lee Fook. 'It's very Cantonese in the fact that it's relying on its roast meats, dim sum and so forth,' says Atherton. 'We've got a bit of a Ho Lee Fook flair with the cool music.' More Ho Lee Fook flair is also coming from the kitchen, courtesy of chef Jowett Yu and his on-the-ground head chef here Michael Janczewski.
Beyond the restaurants and nightclub, there's the Club Room which is a lounge with an old boys club vibe, two rooftop bars, a lobby bar, a Shanghai version of cocktail bar Punch Room and, of course, a spa.
The Shanghai EDITION: it's got a lot going on beyond just rooms. This year feels like Shanghai is being dragged out of hotel purgatory, where now there are places that you might actually want to go on a Friday night that also just happen to be in hotels. Let's see.