My vision of experiencing Shanghai with kids included staying at a gorgeous luxury hotel — albeit a kid-friendly one — that embodies the energy and excitement of the commercial and financial center of mainland China. Mission accomplished. This is exactly what we found at the Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai at Pudong.
Located in the heart of Pudong in the Lujiazhui district, the Four Seasons Shanghai at Pudong is housed in the 21st Century Tower, a 50-story building surrounded on all sides by skyscrapers of unbelievable proportions. Kids and adults alike are wowed by the stylish, modern aesthetic with floor-to-ceiling views from guest rooms and many of the public areas. The hotel is relatively new — it opened in 2012 — and feels fresh and state-of-the-art.
We don’t usually lead with the swimming pool in our family-friendly hotel reviews, but this time it’s necessary. The infinity pool overlooking Shanghai’s vibrant skyline from the 41st floor of the Four Seasons is truly breathtaking. At 150 square meters, the pool has plenty of space for kids to splash and play, plus there’s a separate, sizable Jacuzzi zone.
This is one of the few hotel pools that may be even more popular at night than during the day; the moving, colorful lights of the surrounding skyline create a surreal, beautiful space. Guests of all ages relax during the evening hours in spades having cocktails, dinner, whatever … in their Four Seasons robes and slippers.
Together, the spa, fitness center, swimming pool, and Executive Club cover the entire 41st floor of the hotel. This floor is not an amenity afterthought, but a meticulously designed oasis from the extreme bustle of Shanghai. We didn’t get a chance to sample the spa, but it’s clear this is a spa-lovers’ paradise with a full array of face and body treatments, including specialty gentleman’s treatments and a nail bar, as well as VIP suites. The signature product line is Guerlain.
Our stay included access to the Executive Club Lounge. I love semi-private lounge areas like this for families, as they provide a second place where families can unwind and relax together in the hotel. The setup here includes a places to read, work, and/or watch TV, as well as a food service area where light snacks are served throughout the day. There’s a beautiful breakfast buffet with made-to-order hot items in the morning, as well as cocktails and hors d’oeuvres from 5:30-7:30p each evening.
Ideas for an engaging tour of Shanghai with school age and up kids >
With just 187 rooms and suites, the Four Seasons Shanghai at Pudong feels surprisingly intimate for a city hotel. The view is most definitely the main attraction, but the interior design is exceptional. Rich tones with pops of color are paired with exquisite wood, leather, and marble to create a sophisticated but comfortable private space managed by an in-room iPad.
Families can fit into suites or connecting rooms. All rooms look at the city skyline, but be sure and ask for the Pearl View if you want the iconic Pearl Tower to be part of the landscape.
The main lobby restaurant, Camelia, is a buzzy, vibrant place with a mix of French-inspired and continental cuisine. There is a kids’ menu that includes both Chinese and classic favorites like ham and cheese sandwiches and pasta. Camelia hosts a wonderful Sunday brunch with an extensive buffet that is filled with families.
For a very special night out, we were blown away by the intimate in-house Chinese restaurant, Shàng-Xí. The main restaurant seats just 22 people, but there are five additional private dining rooms. This is a wonderfully romantic place for parents to have a night out (the concierge can organize a babysitter). One private dining room is more splendid than the next, with extraordinary flowers and decadent Chinese interior design … we didn’t have time to eat there, but it has won multiple awards as one of China’s best restaurants.
Kids for all Seasons is the Four Seasons’ branded kids’ amenity program. A city hotel doesn’t have the same supervised kids’ programming as a resort property, but the amenities are age-appropriate and personalized. Our boys had handwritten welcome letters waiting for them with treats and an in-room popcorn maker. A hit with jet-lagged boys! At the end of the day these types of amenities are what make kids feel welcome and comfortable in an otherwise sophisticated environment.
Pudong is really a business hub versus a leisure hub, but we still found it convenient for sightseeing. There’s a lovely park across the way where we did morning Tai Chi with Mandarin Journeys and the kids loved being right next to Shanghai’s tallest skyscrapers. If it wasn’t a Four Seasons, this might not be my top location choice in Shanghai as a home-base with kids … but since the coveted kid-friendly luxury brand manages this wonderful accommodation, I’d stay there again in a nanosecond with kids of all ages.
Best family hotels and things to do in China with kids on Ciao Bambino
Editor’s Note: The Four Seasons Shanghai at Pudong offered us a media package to review the hotel for families. As always, our opinions on Ciao Bambino are our own. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy except where noted.
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