Shanghai is famous for her elegant boulevards, sensual skylines and avant-garde culture-scape, resulting in ever-interesting concoctions of old and new.
It is therefore no surprise that the House Collective chose this hotspot, as the location for its newest property. Within a year of opening, it has already become a place to see and be seen.
The Middle House is located right in the centre of the city’s fast-beating heart, next to the famous Nanjing West Road and multiple luxury boutiques. Yet on the property’s cobbled grounds, keen shoppers and wide-eyed tourists turn into powdered mademoiselles. There is no rush, no hurry, no honking and definitely no pushing and squeezing past sweaty crowds, as visitors peacefully glide past the bamboo forests towards the glass doors.
Behind the sleek entrance, visitors will enter into an alternate universe of zen. Welcomed by an impressive 3,740 piece Venetian chandelier and Chinese art set against daring bamboo-green walls, this curated cocktail proves to be a harmony of contrasts that sets the tone for the rest of the hotel.
As an ode to modern-day Shanghai, the Piero Lissoni-designed property boldly mixes such eclectic elements of local craftsmanship and clever modern touches, to create a sublime expression of present-day China.
Impressed yet? Wait for the rooms. Each one of the 111 studios and penthouses is yet another reflection of the House Collection’s penchant for insanely stylish, grand suites rather than just the standard luxury hotel room. Just like the rest of the property, attention was put behind every little detail – from the romantic tassel rope as master switch and slick wooden La Boite Bluetooth speakers, to the local bric à brac, hand-painted ceramic headboard and silky soft linen. Surrounded by huge glass walls, the room’s backdrop changes from sunny city-scape to dark and swanky skyline.
Guests can soak in each element of this charcoal-coloured palette from bed or couch, but the best spot is from a warm and foamy bathtub as room and bathroom are separated only by a large glass pane (except for the loo). Each room comes inclusive of Bamford toiletries, delicious Chinese teas, snacks and drinks. There are also hand weights and a Lululemon yoga mat, for the post-snacking work-out.
No luxury hotel is complete without a sublime spa. The Middle House is home to the popular urban spa and health experience, which includes their signature Mix Xun spa and ample wellness facilities. A heated pool dominates a twilight space, surrounded by dreamy sculptures, slanting white walls and ashy bricks.
Other facilities include sauna, steam room, yoga studio and a 24/7 gym. The Mix Xun spa carries the LVMH-developed ‘Cha Ling’ product range, which is especially focused the benefits of carefully extracted Chinese teas and skincare routines adapted to the time of the day. We tried out a deliciously aromatic full-body massage, which will relax and refresh even the most tense of travellers. A little self-care never hurt nobody, right?
We love food almost as much as self-care. So as the Middle House is known for its clutch of top-notch restaurants, we were excited to discover them all. Breakfast is served at the hotel’s Far-East inspired Café Grey Deluxe, or brought straight to your room for more leisurely mornings. There is no buffet per se, but instead, guests can pick and choose from a refreshing menu of delectable dishes ranging from gooey eggs to dripping pancakes and wholesome juices. A sister restaurant to Café Grey Deluxe at The Upper House in Hong Kong, it is the second collaboration with New York-based Chef Gray Kunz. With its funky, Instagram-worthy brunch vibes, this was not your usual hotel breakfast.
For more local food, there is Middle House’s infamous Sui Tang Li. Bustling with Shanghainese families, we were swiftly escorted through the crowds, to a cosy table at the back of the restaurant. With a surprisingly large range of dishes available, eventually gave up and asked the waiter to pick for us – after which one (gluten free) delicacy after the next arrived. We would especially recommend the wagyu beef. Cooked to perfection, mixing sweet and salty flavours with just enough ‘melting’ in your mouth, it was the clear winner of the show. For tea aficionados, the long list of Chinese teas are enough to treat even the most severe cravings for carefully aged Pu’Er.
For dinner, we tried out Frasca, the Middle House’s Italian restaurant – which was unfortunately disappointing. The ambience was smooth and cold cuts board with gluten free bread was appreciated, but the Pasta Bolognese was sadly slightly dull in taste. All-in-all the menu was not overly inspiring either. Top tip: Stick to one of the former restaurants, or try out one of the many incredible restaurants that Shanghai has to offer.