Shanghai and Sanya: China’s New Editions

The Edition Hotels is the work of genius of Ian Schrager and Bill Marriott, whose lavish brand is already established in cities like New York, London, Abu Dhabi and Barcelona. There are two in China, The Shanghai Edition in the country’s most vibrant city, and The Sanya Edition on the southern tropical island of Hainan. 

The Shanghai Edition spreads over two 1920s Art Deco buildings on the city’s premier shopping street, close to the famous Bund waterfront. The hotel’s vibe is soft-pedaled opulence and muted minimalism, with copious hints of heritage aesthetics like the traditional shikumen bricks in the lobby, and the Electric Circus nightclub, named in honor of the buildings’ former life as the offices of the Shanghai Power Company.  

The lobby is extravagant in scale, with the golden glow from the soaring back-lit bar falling on plush couches and creating a Schrager “gathering place” ambiance: The perfect place to seek refuge after a day’s sightseeing and shopping. Behind the bar, the heritage tower’s light-drenched lobby has thick tresses of ivy dangling from the roof, a blue pool table and a massive antiqued mirror reflecting passersby and traffic on bustling Nanjing Road East.

A 3,000-square-foot Penthouse Suite at The Shanghai Edition

The 145 guestrooms and suites in the new tower are quietly luxuriant with pale oak paneling, soft beige carpets and white marble bathrooms with tubs and showers. Our City View Loft was one of 26. They seem more spacious than their 398 square feet with their extra-high ceilings and soaring windows looking out on the pedestrian end of Nanjing Road East. There are also 11 Grand Bund View Lofts and, in all, 41 Premium, Grand and Loft rooms with that iconic Bund view. 

Let’s make one thing clear for anyone who has never been to Shanghai — and even for those who have: Having a Bund view is a bit like winning the lottery, because it means feasting your eyes on the colonial riverside promenade and the iconic skyline of mesmerizing, glittering skyscrapers and towers in the Pudong business district across the Huangpu River. It’s amazing by day and drop-dead breathtaking at night. 

Suites start with the 10 Bund Views measuring 947 square feet. We thought the most romantic were the two Terrace Suites, Nos. 2602 and 2060, measuring 1,549 square feet. With slanting windows, spacious terraces with comfortable seating and full Bund views they were our choice for couples on honeymoon or celebrating a special anniversary. 

There are 10 Bund View Suites, which have views of the Bund, the Huangpu River and the Pudong Skyline.

The Penthouse, measuring 3,000 square feet, took our breath away with its oversized coffee table and TV, loft ceilings, white carpets and couches. There is a dining area with a table seating eight, and the tub in the epic all-white bathroom looks straight out on Pudong. Note: This cannot be booked over the GDS, so contact should be made through general manager Matthew Cooper ([email protected]; 011-862-153-689-901)

The restaurants, under star chef Jason Atherton, run the gamut of fine Asian and chic international dining. Executive chef Scott Melvin ([email protected]; 011-862-153-689-510) helms the action in the kitchens, from the sophisticated Cantonese sharing menus and disco cocktails in the Canton Disco, to the beautifully plated sashimi, tamaco and tempura choices in HIYA. There is all-day brasserie dining in the Shanghai Tavern where they do elegant à la carte breakfasts, and in the rooftop garden, we had a lovely al fresco lunch with oysters and prawn cocktails, and felt we were in the English countryside. 

The dining room at the Canton Disco

Top of the house, in every sense, is Roof with full-on Bund vistas, lush ivy hedgerows and lawn landscaping, daybeds, casual seating and a focus on champagne-based cocktails. The hotel also has an indoor swimming pool with city views, a fitness center and a spa where spa manager Katherine Fan ([email protected]; 011-852-153-689-987) says the most popular treatment is the lavender-infused Breeze of the Bund. 

We checked in daily with senior concierge Albert Wang ([email protected]; 011-862-153-689-662) who is the person to go to for transfers and other special arrangements. He is a gold mine of information about his city, and told us he likes to steer guests past the brand stores and tourist sights to off-the-grid things to do and see in Shanghai.  

Albert sent us to his favorite childhood restaurant where we had the best Xiao Long Bao dumplings ever. Wan Shou Zhai (011-861-381-806-5119) has very simple décor, and you have to queue with locals but it’s well worth the wait for the juiciest — and cheapest — dumplings in town. For upscale dining, Albert likes to point guests to The Peacock Room (011-862-152-391-999), which he says is “a tour through the outer limits of Chinese food.”  

It takes three hours to fly from Shanghai to The Sanya Edition on Hainan Island. Many heritage and low-cost carriers operate the route daily. Good to know: Entry to Sanya is visa-free for nationals of 59 countries (including the U.S. and E.U.) arriving on direct international flights, which is to say not coming from another Chinese city.

Hainan is dubbed the “Hawaii of the East” for its tropical climate, and The Sanya Edition is on its southernmost tip on the golden sands of Haitang Bay, a 45-minute drive from the airport. With 512 rooms, 46 suites and 17 villas in 11 different categories, there really is something for everyone. 

The Sanya Edition’s 1,087-square-foot Ocean View Suite looks out over the private ocean.

The rooms are in palest beiges, creams and whites. Our Loft Studio had a large circular stone bathtub in the open bathroom (there was also an enclosed rainforest shower), while the balcony, looking out over the private ocean (more about that later) and the sea, had a couples’ day bed and a deep tub big enough for four. 

Couples will appreciate the seclusion of the One-Bedroom Villas with gardens and pools. The Family Suites with two bedrooms and a living space, plus a playground corner, are ideal for families with small children. For large families, go for the three-bedroom Villa with a large, private pool and a garden pavilion. The Edition Villa has three bedrooms, a living / banqueting area measuring 5,800 square feet, a swimming pool and garden pavilion and is suitable for weddings and events.

General manager Edward Yuan ([email protected]; 011-86-898-8835-9999/8001) told us the weather is at its best from October to March, with June being the hottest month, and that early bookings are recommended, especially in summer, and at least one month ahead for Chinese New Year. For special arrangements and VIPs, agents can contact Edward or director of sales Sophia Wang ([email protected]; 011-86-898-8858/2803).  

Oh yes, that private ocean. It measures 215,278 square feet, is in the center of the landscaped gardens and with 10 million gallons of filtered seawater pumped in each day, it is used for paddleboarding, kayaking and sailing. Tip: The private table on the floating deck is the ultimate romantic candlelight dinner choice. 

The three-bedroom Villa at The Sanya Edition has a large 
private pool and a 
garden pavilion.

There are six swimming pools: One wraps around the private ocean and at the infinity pool on the resort’s highest floor next to the SkyBar, they serve luscious afternoon teas. The age-specific pools for kids start with toddlers, and Playland is an interactive family experience that has to be one of the best ever, with a Kid’s Club, a train that circles the grounds, mini-golf, a 3-D cinema and a bumper-car rink. How cool is that!

There are 11 treatment rooms and three villas in the spa. Director Ella Liu ([email protected]; 011-86-898-8835-9999/8902) suggests the Advanced Oxygen Facial signature treatment, and says villa guests can request in-villa massages. Tip: For a genuine forest deluge experience, try the spa’s rain showers with their birdsong and colored lights.

Executive chef Jordi Villegas Serra ([email protected]; 011-86-898-8835-9999/8301) presides over a range of exciting culinary experiences. Market at Edition opens for breakfast, and what a feast it is, with live cooking stations and extensive buffet choices; later in the day, it becomes a hotpot restaurant. The Jade Egret not only features the tapas-style dishes so dear to Chef Jordi’s Catalan heart, but also premium meats like the Wagyu tomahawk he prepared for us on the lava grill and finished with flaming brandy. 

In the Beach Barbacoa, we sat with our feet in the sand and dined on Balinese-style prawns and satays, and in the Xian Hai Cantonese restaurant, guests can also dine in a private room or on an illuminated floating platform, which we found wonderfully romantic. Tip: Don’t miss the local Hainan specialty Wenchang Chicken: Tender pieces of chicken braised in spices and known the world over as Hainanese chicken and rice.

The Sanya Edition’s Jade Egret serves modern European cuisine, pre-dinner cocktails and small plates. 

The resort’s shuttle bus makes it easy to get to local attractions like the Haitang Bay Shopping Mall with luxury designer outlets, and the next-door Atlantis, which has a water park that will appeal to younger guests. Golden Houhai Bay, which is a short drive away by car or bicycle, is the place to go for snorkeling and surfing and has small family-run restaurants and bars. 

For those who appreciate the finer things in life, the antique hand-embroidered Dragon Quilts, worshipped by Hainan’s Li people, are worth the 40-minute drive to the Binglanggu Li and Miao Cultural Heritage Park. Good to know: Guests staying in a villa can bring their pets, and there is a small extra daily charge for professional cleaning.

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