Spread over 22 lanes in the historic Xuhui District, this newly opened hotel promises timeless elegance without compromising on modern luxuries, writes Alex Greig.

The hotel

In a city of more than 24 million people, silence is a rare and covetable commodity – and you’ll find it at Capella Shanghai in the chichi former French Concession. Plane-tree-lined boulevards, where the mid-1800s French settlement once flourished, are now home to boutiques, cafés, restaurants and bars, while Capella Shanghai itself occupies a 1930s shikumen laneway block comprising 22 lanes lined with narrow houses transformed into opulent villas.

Inside the Historic Capella, Shanghai

The room

Each elegant Shikumen Villa King once housed several families but now all three floors belong to the suite’s occupant. Up a flight of stairs from the ground-floor living-dining area is a media room with a TV and coffee machine. A few more steps lead to a bedroom with a king bed and walk-in wardrobe, while the top floor is dedicated to a marble bathroom with a rain shower and tub. Staying faithful to the bones of the building, further stairs lead to a terrace with views of Shanghai’s skyscrapers.

Inside the Historic Capella, Shanghai

The lowdown

Location Shanghai’s historic Xuhui District.

Number of villas 55.

Check in/out Flexible.

Food and drink Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire restaurant, the French chef’s first Chinese outpost, serves sophisticated Gallic fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner; there’s excellent crusty bread, snails and topnotch steaks. Breakfast is a French-style buffet, while à la carte options include congee and eggs Benedict. Le Bar, a 40-seat bar-lounge, and La Boulangerie et Patisserie, a café and bakery, are also on site. The Lab, an eight-seat private chef experience, is on the way.

Inside the Historic Capella, Shanghai

Wellness A rudimentary gym exists but a full gym and day spa are in the works.

Business facilities A number of meeting rooms and event spaces are available.

Minibar Complimentary chocolate bars, chips, Perrier water, soft drinks and Tsingtao beer are available. Wine and spirits incur a charge.

Water in room Free bottled water is provided.

Pillow menu No, but a maternity pillow was waiting for this pregnant guest.

Bath Yes, standalone with a shower nozzle, loofah and bath salts.

Bathrobe Your choice of light cotton or cosy terry towelling.

The housekeeping test A requested toothbrush was delivered in less than five minutes.

The concierge test We were given precise directions to the nearest HSBC location after enquiring about an ATM that allowed for international deposits and withdrawals.

Amenities Acqua di Parma shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion.

Room service An order of cheeseburgers and hand-cut fries was promised in 30 minutes. It arrived right on time, along with white napkins, silverware and a selection of sauces.

TV and movies HBO, Star Movies, Discovery, CNN, BBC and CNBC, plus Chinese channels.

Wi-fi Complimentary but its speed will not enable you to bypass the Great Firewall of China.

Price A Shikumen Villa King starts from 4500 yuan (about $880) per night.

Ask for… a villa at the end of a laneway. The location allows you to enjoy the water features and candlelit seating platforms on the way to your suite.

Verdict Timeless elegance with creature comforts.

Inside the Historic Capella, Shanghai

SEE ALSO: One Perfect Day in Shanghai

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