The Cathay Hotel, Shanghai… today’s Fairmont Peace Hotel

The Cathay Hotel, today's Fairmont Peace Hotel.

The Cathay Hotel, today’s Fairmont Peace Hotel.

The Cathay Hotel is a dream of a hotel.

An art deco mirage in concrete and cast iron, floating impossibly on the once-swampy banks of the Shanghai Bund – Britain’s city-monument to Imperial Might. The grande dame de jure of Shanghai’s hospitality scene, and where I put up on this stop of the Grand Tour.

It was built in 1932, during Shanghai’s heyday. The Great Depression in America had driven hundreds of wealthy Americans and Europeans, along with their vast reserves of wealth, to this Far Eastern capital, where they transformed Capital into Real Estate – millions of square feet of Art Deco real estate – and grew richer.

Injected with this money, and populated with increasing numbers of Art Deco buildings, Shanghai became a New York City of the East, and became equally fabled for its hedonistic lifestyle, as for its shady underworld of guns and triads.

The Cathay was commissioned by real estate mogul Sir Victor Sassoon, scion to a wealthy family of Baghdadi Jews who were of British nationality. The hotel wasn’t his only major property in Shanghai – he also built Cathay Mansions, Grosvenor House and Cathay Cinema in the French Concession, and Embankment Building by Suzhou Creek, amongst others.

After the Communist takeover, the hotel was re-opened in 1956 as the Peace Hotel, incorporating the former Cathay Hotel as the North Building, and the former Palace hotel, across the street as the South Building. By 1992, it had become one of the world’s most famous hotels.

In 2007, the hotel closed for a major restoration process by the Fairmont Group and re-opened in 2010 in its full glory as the Fairmont Peace Hotel. The Palace Hotel became the Swatch Art Peace Hotel.

This gallery provides a glimpse of the Fairmont Peace Hotel’s splendour.

The old cast iron entrance to the Hotel

The old cast iron entrance to the Hotel

The old River-side entrance lobby.

The old River-side entrance lobby.

Mise en abime.

Mise en abime.

Art Deco detailing near the gift shop.

Art Deco detailing near the gift shop.

The Lounge

The Lounge

The new lobby.

The new lobby.

The dome of the Fairmont Peace Hotel.

The dome of the Fairmont Peace Hotel.

The ballroom.

The ballroom.

The Bar - where Shanghai's oldest jazz band plays.

The Bar – where Shanghai’s oldest jazz band plays.

The Cafe, situated right by the sidewalk.

The Cafe, situated right by the sidewalk.

The Chinese restaurant.

The Chinese restaurant.

The Hotel Museum.

The Hotel Museum.

Lalique crystal light fixtures.

Lalique crystal light fixtures.

Stairwell.

Stairwell.

The hotel's signature design flourish is a pair of Art Deco greyhounds.

The hotel’s signature design flourish is a pair of Art Deco greyhounds.

They recur all over the hotel, in the interior detailing...

They recur all over the hotel, in the interior detailing…

And also on the exterior.

And also on the exterior.

The main entrance to the hotel today sits on Nanjing Road.

The main entrance to the hotel today sits on Nanjing Road.

Close-up of the Fairmont banner.

Close-up of the Fairmont banner.

Close-up of the iconic cast iron roof.

Close-up of the iconic cast iron roof.

View of the Shanghai Bund from the hotel's rooftop bar.

View of the Shanghai Bund from the hotel’s rooftop bar.

View of the Palace Hotel from my room.

View of the Palace Hotel from my room.

About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, China, Cities & Regions, Culture & Lifestyle, Landmarks & History, Photography, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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