8-Story, 52-Room Hotel In Shanghai’s French Concession
Opened in 2007, Shanghai’s Pudi Boutique Hotel is a rare example of a five-star hotel in China that got the formula right and never lost sight of its original mission. The 8-story, 52-room hotel, located at the north edge of Fuxing Park in the French Concession, occupies an enviable spot near increasingly touristy Xintiandi as well as the popular Sinan Mansions complex. Featuring an Art Deco aesthetic that echoes back to Old Shanghai and a contemporary art-filled modern interior, Pudi’s interior and exterior design reflects the city’s transformation and re-emergence as a style — rather than purely an economic — hub.
Last week, Jing Daily sat down with Pudi’s training & PR manager, Debra Duan to discuss what sets the hotel apart from the ever-growing list of five-star competitors appearing in the city. According to Duan, the hotel attracts a mix of about half foreign and half domestic guests, with Pudi’s central location, large rooms — which range in size from 50-90 square meters — and in-room business centers the most commonly cited reasons for choosing the hotel. Duan added that the hotel’s individual service is popular with domestic business travelers, noting that Pudi offers personalized butler service and even pet hospitality service, features not commonly found in Shanghai.
At the Level 8 Member’s Club, a 100-seat lounge with two terraces that look out over the French Concession and Fuxing Park, manager Kevin Yang told us that Pudi’s wine-focused bar attracts a large number of young Shanghainese, as well as in-house guests drawn to the daily (4:30-6:00 PM) complimentary wine tasting. When asked about the differences in taste in wine seen among Shanghainese and foreign guests, Yang said young Shanghainese tend to prefer New World wines from Australia and New Zealand, often try out domestic Chinese wines, and typically opt for Prosecco over champagne. Foreign guests, Yang observed, generally trend towards Old World wines. This, Yang added, indicates the differences in taste between Chinese in their 20s and 30s, who tend to be more flexible in their drinking habits, and middle-aged wine drinkers, who typically stick to French reds and little else.
Pudi, unlike most five-star hotels in China, leans toward introducing guests to New World wines, rotating its menu by season. While New Zealand wines and Prosecco were highlighted this summer, in the fall the hotel will go mainly with South African Pinotage and Sauvignon Blanc, both of which, Kevin Yang said, are quite popular with young locals.
Discussing what gives the Pudi its staying power in Shanghai’s fickle and ever-expanding hotel market, Debra Duan said the hotel’s focus on art has proven a consistent draw. Duan said artwork from 14 local contemporary artists adorns each of the hotel’s rooms, and guests are able to purchase any piece they like.
Duan added that five-star hotels in China are now expected to offer guests — particularly domestic guests — a highly personalized experience, and as such perks like butler service, rare when the hotel opened in 2007, are becoming commonplace. Asked how hotels in Shanghai can effectively market themselves to Chinese consumers amid stiff competition from multinational five-star giants, Duan said it’s critical for hotels to use digital platforms like Sina or Tencent Weibo, cultivate and promote a private and quiet atmosphere, and stick to a clear identity — in Pudi’s case, one based on art appreciation and personal service.
The Jing Daily team would like to thank Debra Duan and Kevin Yang for their hospitality.