They got the name only partly right. Along with the Peninsula on the Bund, and the soon-to-be-relaunched Peace Hotel, the PuLi has been one of Shanghai's most anticipated hotels in years, its name translating as "beautiful, unfinished gem." But while it is beautiful, it is most certainly finished. From the Sung dynasty style stone headrests in the bathrooms to the brass incense burners in guest-room living areas, there's not much left to add to this self-contained urban retreat.
After a flurry of postponements, the 229-room hotel finally opened last September, and the hype has been lived up to. Arriving by car, you sweep around a stark gray wall and thickets of green bamboo, and the rampant chaos that is modern Shanghai instantly vanishes. Massive doors open to an impressive lobby. Along one side stretches a single, 32-m wood-slab bar at which everything takes place: from cocktails to check-in and concierge service. Across the corridor lies a roomy library.
Rooms start at a decent 45 sq m, but seem bigger thanks to sparing use of interior walls (privacy comes through judicious use of silk partitions). Everything that the weary road warrior requires is there: massive swivel TVs, DVD players, Bose sound systems, opulent bathtubs with views over adjacent Jing An Park, rain showers, espresso machines, free wi-fi and a bonus for those needing lots of room for paperwork large dining tables that double as desks. The top-of-the-range accommodation is the two-bedroom Jing'An Suite at a regal 130 sq m.
Talented New Zealand chef Dane Clouston, who earned a reputation for his creative takes on Asian cuisine at Hong Kong's long lamented Opia restaurant, has resurfaced at the PuLi's smart-casual Jing'An restaurant to the good fortune of hotel guests and local diners. A spa, gym and infinity pool operated by Thailand's Anantara Group complete the amenities of this polished hardly unfinished jewel of a property. See more at www.thepuli.com.