A view along Shanghai’s colorful Nanjing Road, one of the city’s busiest shopping destinations.
Photo: Dukai/Getty Images

How to Spend the Perfect 24 Hours in Shanghai

Ahead of November’s West Bund Art & Design fair, here’s what to do while you’re in town
A stylish bath in one of the rooms at The Middle House. Photo: The Middle House

Ahead of Shanghai’s West Bund Art and Design fair in a fortnight (November 7–10), Julian Treger (@juliantreger) gives a highly personal summary of what to do while in town.

Stay at The Middle House, still the best new hotel in the city. Designed by Milanese architect Piero Lissoni, the super-stylish hotel has a boutique Zen feel and wonderful outdoor bars and restaurants—you’d never know that bustling Nanjing Road West is awaiting on street level. My other alternative would be The Peninsula, an older Art Deco gem that’s much closer to the gallery action and just a block from the must-see Rockbund Art Museum.

Visit the galleries around the Peninsula such as Perrotin, Almine Rech, Lisson Gallery and more regional champions like Matthew Liu Fine Arts and Pearl Lam Galleries. Many of these galleries are hard at work preparing their new shows due to open in time for the fair.

Recommended: Shanghai’s Art and Design Scene Heats Up

Perrotin Shanghai’s inaugural show featured Takashi Murakami. During the West Bund Art and Design fair the gallery will have an exhibition on Pierre Soulages. Photo: Perrotin

Eat Chinese when in China. Delicious flatbreads for breakfast at the Gray Deluxe at The Middle House. I also love the dim sum at The Peninsula, especially the shrimp dumplings and turnip cakes. The Peacock Room near the Middle House has excellent Szechuan-influenced food, but the extensive tasting menu isn’t suited to all palates. Fu He Hui has an interesting and delicious tasting menu for vegetarians. And if you tire of Chinese food, the Villa Le Bec, a Brasserie style restaurant of a well known French chef set in a charming garden is an alternative, as is the concept restaurant The Sober Company which presents a experiential evening blending alternative Asian cuisine with a speakeasy vibe.

The Peacock Room in Shanghai. Photo: The Peacock Room

Shop not at the usual global brands but at whimsical Chinese alternatives. Shang Xia has wonderfully poetic furniture and housewares that boast a Hermès sensibility (not surprising, since Hermès is their owner). Also not to be missed is the mall Xintiandi, where you can find local designers such as Uma Wang.

Shang Xia, designed by architect Kengo Kuma. Photo: Shang Xia

Get lost in the French Concession with its abundant old world charms. And if you have time, don’t miss the Power Station of Art, a converted Brutalist electrical plant that opened in 2010 as the country’s first state-run contemporary art museum.

The Power Station of Art. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to Jacqueline Mocatta at the Middle House for inspiration.

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