Jin Mao Tower Shanghai

Gay Shanghai Shanghai City Guide

Curation by Yasmina Rodríguez, words by Gina Samarotto

As heady and exotic as they come, Shanghai is a city able to sate even the deepest wanderlust cravings. Shanghai, or Hu for short, serves as the most influential mecca for international trade, commerce, economy and all things finance in East China - if not all Asia. It’s a city of indulgence where you can feed your love for art and architecture, whet your gourmet palate, spend a morning selecting a custom-made wardrobe and an afternoon immersed in rich, ancient culture. Magically orphic, in this Asian city the most important things to have on hand are an appetite for ardour, a yearning for style and a keen sense of adventure. Smaller than one might expect given the city’s behemoth size, the Shanghai gay community continues to come out of the shadows and into its own. And while public displays of same-sex affection may be more common than they once were, don’t expect to find many rainbow flags flying over the city. Be assured though, as both a gay destination and icon city, the ties between Shanghai and the LGBTQ community weave themselves into tapestry worthy of exploration.

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The best hotels in Shanghai

China is nothing if not passionate about all things luxury.  And nowhere is that voracious appetite for indulgence more apparent than from the glittering surroundings of some of Shanghai’s finest hotels.  Case in point, the PuLi Hotel and Spa.  An urban resort offering round the clock butler service, all imaginable services, a Michelin starred restaurant, upscale workout facilities, and a heated, infinity edge pool (just to name a few); PuLi’s biggest draw is the sheer luxury of their accommodations.  An artful melding of minimalistic design and white glove service, the PuLi’s club level accommodations are sumptuous havens that offer guests daily breakfast, 24-hour butler service, a daily in-room aperitif, daily laundry or pressing services, high tea, and elevated bathroom amenities for which we sigh a grateful, “xièxiè”.  Equally luxurious with an aesthetic that reflects a ‘shikumen’ style is the Middle House where two towers bring together Chinese and European influence.  The hotel’s ‘east meets west’ ideal reaches through Middle House’s dining venues as well by offering guests three eatery choices; a chic Chinese restaurant, an Italian-inspired hotspot, and an all-day café with an international flair.  The lower level of the hotel is devoted to wellness and features a sensational destination spa, a sprawling fitness centre, and an adults-only heated pool that invited guests to take a dip until 11 pm.  This is one ‘middle’ we wouldn’t mind being stuck in!

The Puli Hotel

The Puli Hotel

Inspired by the works of William Shakespeare is The Drama, an aptly-named, theatre-themed boutique hotel where chicly appointed rooms are named after literary masterworks.  In a prime location on West Beijing Road, the Drama is only a twenty-minute walk to Shanghai Center – but given the well-appointed rooms, themed restaurant, bar, café, gift shop and gallery you’ll find onsite; you may not ever want to leave the hotel’s delicious digs. For another boutique option, check out the award-winning design at URBN, a 26-room, Chinese-modern hotel is housed in a converted factory in Jing’An – just a stroll away from the French Concession.

For a completely new approach to the hotel experience, there’s the edgy, urban, Urside Hotel & Café.  Built on the premise of multi-area living, the Urside is an unconventional hotel featuring single rooms designed as individual (yet surprisingly well equipped) pods with shared baths, standard double rooms with private bath, and deluxe, two levels, lofted rooms with plenty of room to stretch out.  The Urside also offers spaces perfect for co-working on the go, an in-house café, and is just a thirty-minute walk to Yu Garden.

The Puli Hotel

The Puli Hotel

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