First of all, its location is unusual. The Mandarin Oriental is not on the Bund, nor in the heart of Pudong, which houses the Park and Grand Hyatt, and Pudong Shangri-La. Instead, Mandarin Oriental chose a location a little to the east of these properties. A direct ferry brings you to the Bund in minutes, which is quite useful in Shanghai, but that being said: for the time being the location is a little off the beaten track (for now).
And yet, those who are willing to go out here will be richly rewarded. In two aspects the Mandarin is at the very top of its game. One is the service, the other its restaurants. The service in the very best Shanghainese hotels (i.e. the Peninsula, Puli and Park Hyatt) can be very good, but the Mandarin might have the edge on all of them. The team here is proactive, extremely efficient, and warm. This is service that will satisfy even the most experienced travellers, and makes it one of the hotel’s strengths.
The other, equally important, forte of the Pudong Mandarin Oriental is the food. Having brought in two highly renowned chefs that consult the two main restaurants of the hotel, there is no other hotel in Shanghai that offers such convincing Western, and Chinese cooking at the same time. The former is in the hands of Richard Ekkebus and Jason Oakley. Together they run the 58 Grill, which serves high quality steaks, alongside carefully executed starters and desserts that are more than just afterthoughts. The “oeufs en Meurette” alone are worth the trip. The Chinese restaurant Yong Yi Ting is the brainchild of Tony Lu, who also runs Fu 1088, and is a bit of a star in Shanghai. The food he and his team here serve is some of the most convincing Jiang Nan cuisine anywhere in the city.
Finally, the attention to detail that has been put into every single part of the hotel is rather astonishing. From the spa, and wellness area, up to the presidential suite, this is a hotel, which has been beautifully conceived. Very different in style from all other Shanghainese hotels, there is a very carefully judged combination of modernity, and some Chinese elements.
Given all this, the Mandarin Oriental Pudong should easily establish itself as a hotel that can play in the same league as the Park Hyatt, Peninsula or Puli in Shanghai. Furthermore, it should be only a question of time, before this newly developed part of Pudong will be put on the map; in part thanks for the efforts of the team behind this hotel.