There are luxury hotels that please, and then there are hotels that are so “wow” in every way that they literally take your breath away. The Peninsula Shanghai falls into the latter category. It opened in 2009 in the most coveted location on The Bund overlooking the Huangpu River, Pudong, and the gardens of the former British Consulate, and guests are immersed in a romantic and exotic version of Shanghai paired with every modern-day creature comfort imaginable.
Fortunately for us, families are a big part of The Peninsula Hotels’ master plan to create extraordinary personalized experiences for a variety of travelers … business and leisure, as well as couples and international families with children of all ages.
The Peninsula Shanghai Family-Friendly Hotel Review
The Peninsula Shanghai’s location on The Bund is walk-out to a wonderful promenade where families can wander and admire the unbelievable Pudong skyline as it transforms through the day and night. Both private (the hotel owns a fleet of BMW and Rolls-Royce cars) and public transportation are easily accessible from here to get around the city. This is an extremely convenient home base for exploring Shanghai with kids.
Although the hotel is relatively new, the Art Deco style and brilliant use of materials from 1920s Shanghai transports guests to another age. The lobby lounge is elegant, as is the surrounding arcade featuring 28 international luxury and fashion brands. There’s a good reason why people not staying at the hotel take the time to have a peek inside.
The 235 rooms and suites were constructed from the ground up for space and comfort. Families can choose between generously sized suites with living rooms, as well as connecting rooms. We sampled an Executive Suite with walk-in dressing room, a power room, and a decadent marble bathroom. It felt more like a luxury apartment than a hotel room, with plenty of nooks for lounging, state-of-the art electronics, and a fully stocked mini-bar and Nespresso coffee maker.
Guest rooms are opulent, with velvet seating, black lacquer and dark wood furnishings, and elegant lighting. Traditional Chinese artwork gives rooms a distinct sense of place. Fresh flowers are placed in every room.
Swimming Pool, The Peninsula Spa, and Fitness Center
A huge plus for families is the 82-foot-long heated swimming pool in a gorgeous light-filled atrium that opens up to a terrace overlooking the city. This large, open space is ideal for families, as there is plenty of room for kids to enjoy the water and space without tiptoeing around other guests. Because this is such an appealing visual space, parents will want to spend time here. There’s also a lifeguard on duty during peak times.
The Peninsula Spa is the only spa in China to receive five stars from Forbes Travel Guide. Our less-than-24-hour stay at the hotel didn’t leave time for a test drive, but 13,455 square feet of pampering space leaves no doubt that this landmark spa delivers on its promise to heal the mind and body.
There’s also a large 24-hour fitness center with both cardio and free weight equipment, as well as personal trainers available to provide advice and assistance. Children under 12 years of age are not permitted to use the fitness facility.
Tips and advice about traveling in China with kids
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The Peninsula Shanghai offers three restaurants: The Lobby, Yi Ling Court, and Sir Elly’s Restaurant. The Lobby is a grand, open space with high ceilings and views of the garden behind the hotel. It’s where a beautiful breakfast buffet and the Peninsula Afternoon Tea is served, and is also open for all-day dining. It’s buzzy and bright with a kids’ menu. This is the best kid-friendly restaurant option at the hotel, besides in-room dining.
We toured the Cantonese restaurant, Yi Ling Court, as well as Sir Elly’s Restaurant, and both offer fine dining experiences. Both are upscale, in line with this brand, and both offer a sophisticated ambiance. I’m sure children are treated well at both restaurants (though Sir Elly’s doesn’t allow kids under 3); however, I also think that one of The Peninsula’s perks is the fantastic central location, so families who want more casual restaurant options have plenty of places to go around the hotel.
A visit to Sir Elly’s Terrace, however, is an absolute must. This rooftop bar boasts a 270-degree view over the river and Pudong skyline. It is truly something to watch the sun go down and the lights of the city go on from here. We were all amazing and excited to spend an evening here … a once-in-a-lifetime-caliber event.
The Peninsula Academy
The brand’s signature kids’ program is a worldwide hit and offers pint-size guests local, special experiences at each of their 10 hotels. In Shanghai, activities range from chocolate-making in the kitchen to kite-flying on The Bund to Tai Chi lessons. All in all, the presence of a program like this goes well beyond stuffed toys in the guest rooms and makes families feel truly welcome and pampered.
The Peninsula Hotels’ service standard is second to none. We’ve stayed at The Peninsula Chicago and The Peninsula Beverly Hills with kids, and are always delighted and astounded by service that goes beyond the ordinary to ensure that every possible family need is anticipated. Forget about teaching kids any “you’re not spoiled” lessons here.
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Best family hotels and things to do in China with kids on Ciao Bambino
Editor’s Note: The Peninsula Shanghai provided a media package for us to experience this landmark luxury hotel with kids. As always, our thoughts and opinions expressed on Ciao Bambino are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy except where noted.