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Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund hotel review

Enjoy a relaxing Banyan Tree resort experience in one of Shanghai’s most scenic locales.

Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund offers an escape from the frenetic pace of the city, inviting guests to relax with a calming natural atmosphere, modern style, myriad dining experiences and a three-level spa.

The facts

Traveller: Cathy Wagstaff
Room: Bund Retreat King
Address: 19 Gong Ping Road, Hong Kou District, Shanghai 200082, People’s Republic of China
Date: June 2017
Best for: An uber-cool sanctuary in the heart of buzzing Shanghai, with a dash of contemporary romance.

The Signature factor

The rooftop TOPS Bar offers some of the best river views in Shanghai. Sipping a cocktail as you watch the Pudong skyline light up – like an adult’s version of Disneyland with its riotous illumination – is a must-do, even if you’re not staying at Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund. If you would prefer to enjoy the views in complete privacy, river-facing rooms offers similar panoramas, even from the bathtub.

The concept

Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund opened as the group’s first urban resort in China in October 2012, and it has become a favourite address for relaxation beside the waterfront ever since. The design exudes an elemental feel, highlighting natural textures and tones of wood, stone and water throughout the property. Each of the 130 rooms, including 24 suites, echoes this philosophy with lavish interiors and spectacular views. As with all Banyan Tree resorts, the award-winning spa is a focal point, spanning three floors.

First impressions

A London cab-style hotel car picks me up from Pudong International Airport for the 40-minute drive to the hotel, where the chaos of Shanghai disappears as we pass into the lush forecourt of Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund lined with bamboo and trees, some grown into extraordinary shapes. The lobby is dotted with impressive natural art, including a wall feature of wooden logs and sculptures of rough-hewn stone that double as seating. Upon finalising check-in, I am offered a single red rose, a nod to Banyan Tree’s reputation for romance.

The room

The Bund Retreat King room is a Zen-like haven overlooking the Lujiazui financial district, the Huang Pu River and the Bund. I can watch visitors strolling this waterfront promenade from an inviting window seat (a place I wish I could spend more time) and a massive circular bathtub, which echoes the pebble-shaped sinks on the double vanity. I am delighted that the usual single-use plastic bottles of bathroom amenities have been replaced with ceramic dispensers of Banyan Tree’s own signature products; this is something I hope to see in more hotels in future. While the bathroom looks open, it can be separated from the main room with a hidden sliding door – a feature I will be looking to incorporate into my own home renovations. Behind a desk of polished marble, the mini-bar is accompanied by tea and a Nespresso machine, as well as a soothing aromatherapy oil burner.

Top suite

The Banyan Suite is 307 square metres and two floors of exclusivity atop the 12th floor, with corner panoramas, a separate lounge area, dining under a golden light feature, and a huge bath stretching the full width of the marble bathroom.

On my plate

Oceans Restaurant offers all-day delights on the lobby level of Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund. The breakfast buffet is a sumptuous affair, ranging from the usual suspects (tropical fruit, cereals and toppings, eggs cooked to order) to more exotic selections (sashimi and sushi, rabbit meat and foie gras). By day, guests can enjoy a set menu for lunch, while at night oysters, champagne and seafood platters are the dishes of choice.

Ming Huan serves up a fusion of Chinese and Western cuisine (a ginseng soup gets a twist with the addition of Australian crocodile meat, for example), while tea masters demonstrate traditional ceremonies. Within Ming Huan, Tai Hei offers a high-end take on sashimi and sushi.

The Banyan Lounge transitions from English-style afternoon tea to cocktails in a warm setting, or opt for vistas and a lively atmosphere at TOPS Bar on the roof.

I wish I could take home…

The views, particularly when accompanied by the window seat and the bathtub.

Spa life

The Banyan Tree Spa spans three floors, offering a quiet oasis of 11 treatment rooms, an indoor swimming pool and three relaxation pools. All the therapists are trained at the signature Banyan Tree Spa Academy and deliver treatments rooted in traditional healing.

Staying in

A day in at Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund is all about indulgence. Start your day in the Health Club in the relaxation pools or with a yoga or tai chi session outdoors, followed by eggs cooked to order in Oceans Restaurant. A treatment or two at the spa is essential, as is a cocktail at the rooftop bar. You can even do your souvenir shopping without leaving the hotel at Banyan Tree Gallery.

The accolades

Banyan Tree Spa is consistently rated one of the best spa brands in China, including in the Shanghai Morning Post Tourism Awards, Travel & Leisure China Awards, China Hotel Industry Golden Horse Awards and countless more.

Insiders’ tips

One thing to note is that Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund is more than a long walk from the main tourist stretch of the Bund. If you want to see this particular view around Nanjing Road, I recommend taking a taxi or using DiDi, a Chinese ride-hailing app that operates similarly to Uber.

Pet peeves

As someone with very particular wine tastes, a good sauvignon blanc missing from the mini-bar always rankles. Fortunately, the Banyan Tree Shanghi on the Bund team sent up a chilled bottle promptly after I called.

Where to find Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund

Banyan Tree Shanghai on the Bund is located around the bend of the Huang Pu River in the Hong Kou District. The nearest subway station is Tilanqiao.

Looking for other hotels in Shanghai? Our writers review Fairmont Peace Hotel, Jing An Shangri-La and The Peninsula Shanghai.

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