Since I have mostly stayed in Pudong where I had business in Shanghai, I decided to stay on the Puxi side, which is west of the river. This is closer to old Shanghai and where most of the tourist sites are at. And I picked Twelve at Hengshan, located as the name indicates on Hengshan Road, with easy access to the heritage villas in the French Concession and about 5-10 minutes by taxi to the commercial areas on Huaihai Road. There is also a metro/subway stop near the hotel for tourists to give them easy access to other parts of the city.
Because of the nondescript red-brick facade, the hotel is not easily recognizable to taxi drivers. This can be a problem for non-Chinese speakers as the surrounding area is more like a quiet residential district. The lobby was also very quiet when I arrived, making it not appear like a hotel. I even had to wait for a bit before the bellboy appeared to help me with my luggage. From the Hengshan Road entrance, guests have to walk a fair distance past the atrium to the reception desk closer to the courtyard. While not grand or majestic, the decor and walkway was pleasant and it was one of the most architecturally pleasing hotels I have visited.
With no bars or lounges around the lobby area, it was quiet and peaceful and there was no one else when I arrived at the reception. This meant it was a quick check-in with no problems, and with an early morning appointment, I skipped breakfast at the hotel to choose the bonus Starpoints as a SPG Platinum member. While the agent did mention I was upgraded, she did not mention about a suite. Being a one night stay and as I am quite tired from the long haul flight, I did not ask for a suite.
Unlike most Shanghai hotels which are housed in skyscrapers, this one is a low lying building and I suspect it is due to planning restrictions to preserve the area which is a nice neighbourhood to walk around in. And while most hotels in Shanghai focus on city or river views, the best view from this hotel is one that faces the central oval courtyard. Due to the large floor area, there are actually multiple elevators and I was directed to the elevator closest to my room – one that is located in the centre section of the courtyard.
Room No: 613 Category: Courtyard Room
First impressions on the walk from the lobby to the reception and to the room was great with lots of neat details and furnishings in the elegant space. This extended to when I arrived at my room, and on entry, there is a well built closet on the side along with a cupboard that housed the minibar and Nespresso machine. I love a good cup of coffee and I find Nespresso makes some of the best for that cuppa in the room. There is also a work desk and a chair beside the minibar cupboard with the balcony door beside the work desk. Beverages like juices and the local beer are complimentary for hotel guests along with Nespresso coffee and tea. This was a nice perk to have in a city hotel especially since there isn’t much convenience stores in the area unlike in other parts of Shanghai.
Across from the closet, a sliding door leads into a luxurious bathroom. There are dual sinks on the vanity counter while a free-standing bathtub is located across it. At the end, there is a glass enclosed shower room and another space with a sliding door housing the toilet.
Another great feature in the bathroom is the other sliding door leading into the bedroom from beside the bathtub. This open layout is perhaps better for couples or single travellers, as it can be otherwise troublesome for friends sharing a room.
Amenities inside the bathroom are supplied by Appelles, an Australian brand. It is refreshing to see different kinds of amenities as it allows you to get a sample of the various kinds of products on sale.
The bedroom itself is spacious and has the same intricate furnishings. Panels of Chinese floral motifs grace the headboard in the room while a pair of hanging lights are placed on each ends. The curtains and lighting in the room are controlled electronically while the wall mounted TV can be swivelled to face the bed.
Across from the TV, there was a pair of lounge chairs with a small side table. On this stay, there was a welcome note and a fruit basket waiting on the side table. Fruits are always welcome as an evening snack since I just wanted to sleep arriving in the late evening.
One of the most memorable moment I had staying in this hotel was being greeted by the sound of birds chirping in the morning. The quiet and serene ambience with the room facing the greenery in the courtyard somehow made it feel like I was not in a bustling metropolis like Shanghai. That is probably the hallmark of true luxury, and made this one of my favourite city hotels ever.
The balcony outside the room offers a space to enjoy some quiet moments in the city and the courtyard itself is open to hotel guests for a walk.
Aside from that guests seeking to exercise can do so in the fitness centre and indoor swimming pool located on the second basement level. The clever part of this space is that it is located underneath the courtyard and uses glass ceilings to let natural light in.
The fitness centre shares the same reception with the pool and there are plenty of locker rooms with shower facilities inside. While the fitness centre is open 24 hours, the pool is open only from 10:30 in the morning till 10:30 at night. While it might not have the views of some facilities, both fitness centre and swimming pool are very spacious for a city centre hotel.
Aside from the exercise facilities, there is a hotel spa and hair salon on the upper basement level. Business centre and meeting rooms are also the norm for a city hotel. One downside is probably the limited range of on-site dining. There is a Chinese restaurant, and a rooftop outdoor restaurant serving buffets and international cuisine. The venue for drinks is probably in the lobby lounge located at the back end and separate from the reception and entrance. Though there is no lack of dining in Shanghai with many top notch restaurants about 5-10 minutes away by taxi.
The room rate at this hotel varies between ¥1400-2400 ($200-350) per night and while guests do have a good selection to choose from in Shanghai, I have to say none are is more architecturally pleasant as this. This hotel is not in the center of the hustle and bustle but it is not far away. And it is not a skyscraper with views, but it offers plenty of space and provides a haven. If you enjoy beautiful spaces and can appreciate a well designed structure, this is the hotel you should stay in. Alternatively this hotel is for guests seeking solace in the city, and for the lower end, I would gladly stay here for longer next time!