Middle ground isn’t usually very exciting… but that’s not the case at the Middle House hotel in Shanghai. Built in Shanghai’s shikumen architectural style, the two towers seamlessly fuse Chinese and European styles, choosing the best of both cultures. The approach extends to the three eateries, too: there’s a chic Chinese restaurant, an Italian hotspot and a seasonal international all-day café. And then there’s the basement level, which is devoted to wellness, with a destination spa and sprawling fitness centre. At the end of the day, settle into minimalist room with sweeping views of China’s biggest city. Being stuck in the Middle has never sounded so good.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £211.55 (CNY1,804), including tax at 16.6 per cent.
Rates include minibar snacks, beers and soft drinks, but not usually breakfast.
There’s no need to enable beast mode to work out here: the gym offers peaceful group yoga classes.
At the hotel
Spa, 24-hour gym, sauna, steam room, on-site parking. In rooms: flatscreen TV, state-of-the-art Bluetooth speakers by Native Union and La Boite, minibar, coffee machine, Lululemon yoga mat, hand weights, Bamford bath products.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms have the same serene palette, so it’s hard to choose a champion. Studio 90 rooms have impressive city views, though, and especially large bathrooms.
Pre-bed dip, anyone? The adults-only heated swimming pool is indoors, right next to the spa, and stays open until 11pm.
Get ready to feel amazing from the inside out. Mi Xun spa incorporates traditional Chinese medicine into treatments to detoxify and promote energy flows. In addition to facial and body treatments, the spa offers manicures and pedicures, and has a juice bar and tea shop.
Leave plenty of room for souvenirs: the hotel is right in the middle of Shanghai’s best shopping area, with a mall that’s directly accessible from the hotel’s third floor.
Nearly all public areas are wheelchair accessible. There are two rooms adapted to accommodate wheelchairs, with larger spaces and accessible bathrooms.
Children of all ages are welcome, though the space has a serene, adults-only vibe. Baby cots are available at no additional cost, and full-size beds can be reserved for 500RMB. Miniature slippers and robes will help little Smiths feel at home.
The hotel uses eco-friendly cleaning products, recycles and offers paperless itineraries and e-newspapers.
At Café Gray Deluxe, take a table on the terrace or by the oversized windows.
Plenty of shoppers on posh Nanjing Road pop in for snacks, so expect well-clad diners in chic, seasonal sun dresses and button-down shirts.
There are three, to satisfy a range of Continental cravings. Café Gray Deluxe, run by chef Peter Lin, is open throughout the day with a menu of seasonal dishes (black-skin cod with muhammara, crab-meat tartare, coconut rice pudding with fresh figs and jelly…) and artwork showcasing Chinese vases and water jugs. The more formal Frasca serves Italian fare, including steaks, clam pasta and a tiramisu for dessert. The moody Sui Tang Li, run by chef Tony Ye, offers Cantonese, Shanghainese and Sichuan cuisine, including kung pao-style braised prawns and double-boiled matsutake soup, all in a low-lit space with a dramatic spiral stairwell.
Café Gray Deluxe has a romantic bar, with leather sofas, black walls and low-lit lamps to set the scene for tempting plum daiquiris and gingery Bai Jiu mules.
Breakfast at Café Gray Deluxe from 6.30am to 10.30am. Cafe Gray Deluxe and Sui Tang Li are open for lunch (11.30am to 2.30pm) and dinner (5.30pm to 10.30pm). Frasca serves dinner every day from 6pm to 10.30pm, and weekday lunches from 11.30am to 2.30pm.
Chinese and international options are available in your room anytime of day or night. When cravings strike, the kitchen also aims to accommodate special requests.
The Middle House is in the bustling Nanjing West Road neighbourhood in central Shanghai.
You’ll likely touch down at one of Shanghai’s two international airports. The smaller of the two, Hongqiao, is a 45-minute drive from the hotel. The more prominent, Pudong, is 46 kilometres away (an hour's drive). Smith24 can arrange flights and transfers.
Shanghai South Railway Station, which connects to Nanjing and Suzhou, is a half-hour drive away.
Leave the driving to the locals – traffic is legendary and requires nerves of steel.
Worth getting out of bed for
With a prime location on Nanjing Road, there’s plenty to do within a short stroll of the hotel. Nanjing Road is a hub for shopping, with electronics stores, department stores, bookstores, cafes and high-end malls, including Plaza 66, home to Chanel, Hermès and other top-tier designers. People’s Park, a kilometre east, has walking paths, morning outdoor exercises and a historic club building. Don’t miss a wander through the marriage market, where marital classifieds listings are posted by parents looking to find love for their children. The park also houses two major city museums, the Shanghai History Museum and MOCA, with contemporary works by emerging Chinese artists. East of the hotel, along the Huangpu River waterfront, The Bund is a promenade and architecture district lined with buildings showcasing more than two dozen architectural styles, including Romanesque and Gothic styles, as well as more traditional Chinese architecture. Southwest of the hotel, Jing’an Temple, a recently restored Buddhist temple, dates back to 1216 and includes a 3.5-tonne copper bell, the largest sitting jade Buddha in the country and ancient stone Buddhas. The walking is fun and lively, but the hotel offers a house Tesla ready to shuttle guests anywhere that appeals.
Shanghai is renowned for its food, with street carts hawking savory pancakes, rice cakes and buns. The most renowned and beloved dish is probably xiaolongbao, delicate soup dumplings filled with scalding liquid. Try some of the city's best at Jia Jia Tang Bao, a local chain with an outpost just east of the hotel.
For classic Cantonese cuisine, the beautiful new Canton Table offers barbecued pork, hot and sour soup, baked fish and other high-end Cantonese classics in a soaring space on The Bund, with river views.
Near the hotel in The Bund, Lost Heaven showcases the bright, herbaceous dishes of Yunnan, with fiery Thai influences. The moody space becomes lounge-like in the evenings.
Sip like an in-the-know local at Speak Low, a three-in-one speakeasy on Fuxing Middle Road. The entrance is hidden within a bar tools shop, with a secret sliding door that ultimately yields three distinct spaces, each mixing top-tier cocktails dreamed up by a master Japanese bartender.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this two-tower luxury hotel in China and unpacked their teas and silk robes, a full account of their Shanghai city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Middle House in Shanghai…
There’s nothing middling about the Middle House. Soaring above stylish Nanjing Road West, the House Collective hotel cannily combines traditions to create an impressively contemporary, stylish escape in the heart of China’s most futuristic city. A bamboo-lined driveway gives way to a lobby lined with jade-coloured tiles with a massive Murano glass chandelier. The lounge-like space is a favourite hangout of the city’s hip young locals.
The entire basement is dedicated to wellness, with a sprawling spa offering massages and facials with a focus on energy healing, and a fitness centre offered in partnership with Lululemon. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you’re in luck: the restaurants here offer flavours and vibes to suit any palate, including light, seasonal fare from at Cafe Gray Deluxe from a New York-based chef, fresh pastas in the Italian restaurant and traditional Chinese dishes from a Michelin-heralded talent at Sui Tang Li. They’re all appealing options, as evidenced by the stylish crowd that gathers at each. No matter which you choose, retreat upstairs after to an appealingly minimalist room with unbeatable views of China’s biggest city.