This was my wife’s first experience visiting mainland China, and to make it easier I figured we should stay in the Xintiandi district, which is a large shopping area popular with expats. It’s not as close to the famous Bund or Oriental Pearl Tower across the river, but the scale is much less imposing and you can walk to many places. Past experience at the Grand Hyatt Shanghai, near the Pearl, found found me using the Shanghai Metro to get everywhere. The Andaz Xintiandi seemed like an obvious choice for this trip.
The hotel is not as well known, and a language issue made it difficult to describe our destination to the taxi driver who picked us up at the airport. You might find yourself relying more on Bing Maps and Apple Maps since access to Google services was unpredictable. Fortunately we cleared that up and arrived about an hour later, with a fare of 160 CNY, and were greeted by the bellman. (Warning: the return fare was closer to 240 CNY, and the driver had no change for 300. I’ve never quite figured out why the fares vary so much in Shanghai, but you should be prepared.)
Booking this stay was a bit complicated. As a Category 4 property, the Andaz costs 15,000 points per night as an award stay or $250 and up when paying cash. I had only 27,000 points in my World of Hyatt account, plus an annual free night award that comes with the $75 annual fee on my Hyatt Visa credit card. I decided to transfer 3,000 points from another account to mine, booked a two-night stay with points, and then booked the third night with the free night award.
We were greeted by an host who promptly checked us in despite the early arrival around 1 PM. Reception included some cold towels and green tea as we waited. Like all Andaz hotels, there are also some complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and snacks for guests to enjoy in the lobby. If you visit in the morning, these are replaced with coffee and fresh pastries.
Once checked in, the bellman escorted us to the room. We were across from the elevator but didn’t find noise to be a problem during any part of our stay. In fact, we were pretty pleased with the room given the excellent view over the Xintiandi outdoor shopping center across the street. This is one of the few areas in Shanghai preserved from development, which continues to surprise me. Other neighborhoods nearby that I had enjoyed on my last trip were already gone and being replaced with new towers.
The room itself was very comfortable, with a design aesthetic that I characterize as more aggressive than your typical Andaz — maybe closer to my expectations of a W hotel. The brightly colored fabric panels were certainly fun. No issues there.
But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a glowing bathtub. The entire bathroom was designed to impress with its dim lights, rough stone walls, and glowing bath fixtures that would cycle through new colors every few minutes. Amenities by Lorenzo Villoresi were also eye-catching in their brightly colored packaging.
The pool and gym downstairs carry this design to a greater extreme.
Other room amenities included an iPad that controlled all the lights and drapes in the room in addition to local information and services from the hotel directory. We used it once to order room service and were impressed with how easy it was.
Below that was the minibar. All Andaz hotels offer free snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, which we enjoyed every time we came back from a few hours of playing tourist. But the hotel also offered a complimentary happy hour each evening in the bar downstairs, including live music. It was a great way to relax once the sun set and the city began to cool off.
We enjoyed breakfast in the hotel restaurant each morning on the second floor. The buffet — although beautiful and delicious — costs about $35 per person, tax and service included. Unless you have Globalist status with Hyatt you might want to rethink your booking strategy.
In our case it would have been a better deal to skip the points redemption and book through Chase’s Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection instead, which includes free breakfast in room rates. I mentioned that the hotel offers free pastry and coffee in the lobby, too, but didn’t realize this until the morning of our departure.
Everything about the Andaz Xintiandi is meant to impress. The service definitely exceeded expectations, and the quality of the food was great, both at breakfast and the other restaurants we tried during our stay. After trying to go out once to another bar nearby, we regretted our decision and agreed the free Andaz happy hour was better.
It still wasn’t as convenient as I’d hoped to get to everywhere we wanted to visit. Two trips required a taxi. But I was glad we were spending less time in the metro. Shanghai isn’t really a city where you can walk everywhere. We ended up with a good compromise, and I’ll definitely keep the Andaz Xintiandi on my list when making plans for our next trip to Shanghai.