I neither made the reservations nor paid for these rooms myself, so I don’t know what the rates were for three of these. With the exception of Crowne Plaza Shanghai, I don’t even know what room category the accommodation belonged to. So, this is by no means a side-by-side comparison of quality and value for money; I’m only sharing my general impressions of them.
It depends on where in Shanghai one needs to be and for what purpose of course, but I feel that for the typical tourist Sofitel Shanghai Hyland is, of these four hotels, unbeatable in terms of location. Its front doors lead right onto Nanjing Road, which is a famous pedestrian street and popular tourist attraction in Shanghai. And with places like Pizza Hut, KFC and MacDonald’s all within spitting distance, skill and wind permitting, one can claim a visit to China without having to step very far outside the bubble of Western comfort.
In Shanghai, I’ve grown accustomed to customer service generally being cold and unfriendly. Mostly, I’m just relieved if the person serving me doesn’t make me feel that my mere existence is a source of annoyance or inconvenience. So, stepping into Sofitel Shanghai Hyland and being warmly greeted and smiled at was somewhat surreal and in stark contrast to what I’d been experiencing elsewhere in the city. In fact, I found it a bit overwhelming to the point that it seemed patronising, almost sarcastic.
The attentiveness was inconsistent, though, and where it mattered more – at the check-in counter – a bit lacking in my opinion. There was a single person on duty, and although there was only one couple ahead of me, the process seemed to take forever. Also, speaking of the check-in process, I found it rather bizarre that the counter for this was situated on the second or third floor. I can’t remember which, but the point is that it wasn’t where one would expect it to be, and I had to ask where it was as I didn’t see any signage directing me to the correct floor.
Here are some photos of the room. It was on the 11th floor but sadly had no real view – not counting what I’ve dubbed the peek-a-boo shower. Unquestionably my favourite feature, it really called to my inner pervert. (If you want to be exceptionally boring, it has a blind that can be lowered for privacy.)
I was confused about the reservation for my second hotel stay and first went to Marriot Courtyard Shanghai Puxi. Similarly to Sofitel Shanghai Hyland, I found the welcoming part embarrassing. Had I been better dressed on both occasions, I probably would’ve felt less out of place. So, I fully acknowledge that these were simply my own feelings of awkwardness and not due to any wrongdoing on the part of either two hotels.
It turned out that my reservation, however, was at InterContinental Shanghai Puxi – literally a two-minute walk further down the road – which was not intimidating at all even though I found it visually far more impressive than the other two. As I stepped into the hotel, I thought “Oh, wow!” and may even have whispered it to myself. It’s a really nice hotel.
I also liked the room significantly more than the one at Sofitel Shanghai Hyland, and this one actually had a rather nice city view.
One thing about the room that I found a bit odd was the carpet choice. Though it was in good condition, the slightest flattening of the carpet pile makes it look extremely worn because it’s patterned. This was probably not the best exercise of judgment, I feel.
The toilet was the most high-tech way I’d ever disposed of bodily waste. My next home will definitely need to have a crapper than requires it to be plugged in. I’m still not quite clear on what the wand cleaning function is meant to do, though.
As one might expect from a hotel of this calibre, I found that the supper I had at Ecco, one of the hotel’s restaurants, was rather pricey – but it was good. My accommodation included a buffet breakfast, which had a nice selection and was also very enjoyable.
As for Crowne Plaza Shanghai, I believe this hotel is somewhat older than the other two, but decorating choices definitely contributed to the dated feeling. I had a reservation for a superior room, which was upgraded to the deluxe room for free – which was really nice of them. And from the 22nd floor, I had a rather good city view. The bathroom was tastefully done, but I wasn’t too enamoured of the shower-over-bath/shower curtain setup. Oh, and the air-conditioner was rather noisy. I don’t just mean that it was loud; it actually made a strange noise. So, I left it switched off.
My most recent hotel stay was at All Seasons Hotel Shanghai Yan’an Road. This is a budget hotel. I’m not talking prostitutes-in-the-lobby budget, but it’s situated next to a rather busy highway that serves as a reminder. I was initially a bit concerned about the traffic noise that was quite prominent in my 8th-floor room, but it wasn’t nearly as bothersome once I closed all the windows.
Don’t expect anything more than the most elementary of English being spoken here. A disproportionately eager young couple wanting to get a room was attended to despite me being there first. Demanding to know why this was the case, my question was met with a blank expression. Only when my body language and tone, supplemented by some pointing, sufficiently conveyed my dissatisfaction did I get a mumbled sorry; no eye contact.
Though it’s not really possible to tell from the photos, the bathroom was enormous in relation to the rest of the room. They get bonus points for that.
All in all, this hotel is a good choice if you’re just looking for a place to sleep/shag. But in that case, rather consider RHEA Boutique Hotel. As I was typing this up and looking for a link to All Seasons Hotel Shanghai Yan’an Road, I had a glimpse at the rates.
You could easily save more than 50% over at RHEA Boutique Hotel. Plus, I actually felt it was a bit nicer, less noisy, the subway far more accessible, and their rooms have peek-a-boo showers. You can’t go wrong with those. If you are not paying, though, the clear winner for me out of all these is undoubtedly InterContinental Shanghai Puxi.
Lastly, I apologise for the fuzziness of some of these photos, most notably the last one. I’m usually feeling a bit tired or rushed at the time and haven’t quite gotten the hang of taking pictures indoors in lower light settings yet, but I’ll get there. These are, however, the best I have for now and hope they may be of value to someone.
Update: Apparently, my rate comparison was unfair because the one booking was just inside of the Chinese New Year period and the other just outside of it. And as anyone who lives in Shanghai knows, there is a mass exodus during this time of the year as people return to their hometowns to visit family. So, hotels in Shanghai naturally drop their prices over the holidays.