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Shanghai’s Hidden Secret - The Eton Hotel Shanghai

by Nick Anis

Eton Hotel Shanghai Evening - click to enlarge
 Eton Hotel Shanghai Evening

Opened on March 1, 2007, The Eton Hotel Shanghai, (Yu Jing) 裕景 a 40-story, distinctive, five-star hotel, with an emerald green glass tower, keeps guests coming back with an impressive blend of fine service, great amenities, and affordable rates.  A member of the World Hotel group, the Eton Hotel Shanghai is well-managed, with an international staff that is well-accustomed to dealing with the diverse clientele The City Above The Sea attracts.

Shanghai, aka The City Above the Sea, is a bustling metropolis with a cornucopia of high rise architectural wonders. This historic international city that was once a humble village and has been on a building spree for the past three decades and has an enormous number of high-end restaurants and hotels.

Pudong (the area of Shanghai where the Eton Hotel Shanghai is located) has many five-star hotels, where rooms tend to be larger and cost less, and best of all, there is less traffic, making it easier to get around by taxi and the Metro. People's Square area, the Bund, Puxi, etc. are popular areas to stay, but the Pudong area is another great option for the savvy traveler. Pudong may not be the trendiest part of Shanghai, but it includes many of Shanghai's most interesting places such as Shanghai World Financial Center, Pudong Riverside Promenade, Lujiazui Central Green Belt, Century Boulevard, Jin Mao Tower, Mori Tower, The Oriental Peal TV Tower, Shanghai International Convention Center, Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, Shanghai Wild-Insect Kingdom, Century Park, and Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

 

Praised by guests on Yelp, Trip Advisor, and travel logs, and consistently rated in the top 40 of Shanghai’s 4,800+ plus hotels, The Eton Hotel Shanghai has 460 guest rooms, 4 restaurants, a beautiful Olympic-size indoor pool, full service spa and health club, 12-well equipped meeting rooms, and a huge Grand Ball room.

The Eton Hotel Shanghai has some interesting artwork inside and out.  For example, there is a gargantuan stone monolith from the Guangdong province's famous Taishan Mountain.  One of China's five sacred mountains, Taishan which actually called Mount Tai, is so famous that several of the ancient china emperors trekked to its summit climb to participate in ceremony honoring God.  Stone from this sacred mountain is believed to be endowed with power of providing Peace, Safety and Stability. This this massive stone monolith stands 8 meters tall (26 feet, 3 inches) and weighs 75 tons, slightly heaver than the stone bricks of the Giza Pyramids, and slightly lighter than the Moai, gigantic stone monoliths of Easter Island. 

The lobby is bright a cheery and has a vaulted ceiling two stories high, with massive carved white columns, and crystal chandeliers.  There is a two-sided glass water wall visible as you drive up.  When you come inside the lobby, in front of the hotel and the water wall, stands a 2.9 meter (9 foot, 7 inches) high massive yew carving, Galloping Success, illuminated by projection lights at night, and natural lighting during the dayYew is an evergreen shrub or tree with a fine grain and reddish tent wood, found in the Liaoning Provence.  Known the Tree God of Wind and Water in Chinese folklore, yew is a durable lumber that's highly coveted.  In this amazing 1-piece carving fifty-six (symbolizing the 56 ethnicities of China) majestic Chinese stallions thunder through the air as they gallop towards the horizon.  In Chinese culture the Horse or Ma (in Chinese) symbolizes excellence, advancement, and good fortune.

In addition to the lobby, each other floor has public areas decorated with Chinese art and comfortable furniture for lounging around and socializing. The rooms range from superior, deluxe, premier, junior suite, deluxe suite, executive suite, and presidential suite. All rooms feature modern décor, glass wall bathrooms with separate shower and oversized tubs, wide-screen flat panel TVs with satellite, complimentary fruit (depending upon room class), mineral water, and high speed Internet. My favorite is a premier corner room on an executive room – the daytime and night time views from one of these rooms (and all the rooms, really) are amazing. All rooms are decent sized, aesthetically pleasing, and well maintained. Daily turn down service is offered. A complimentary newspaper is delivered to your room, and a concierge is available to assist you with information about local shopping, attractions, and dining.

Eton Hotel Shanghai - Lobby - click to enlarge
 Eton Hotel Shanghai - Lobby

The first thing you will notice about the Eton Hotel Shanghai is that the rates are quite reasonable as compared to many of the five star hotels in town. Also there is a noticeable difference in service. The front desk is always fully manned, and even when the occupancy rate is high, you will seldom experience a delay in checking in or out. You can perform currency exchanges at the front desk without any service charge, and the exchange rate is quite competitive. There is seldom a wait at the elevators, either. A room keycard is needed to access guest floors, helping to ensure guest's privacy.

All rooms have wired Internet, but the club level rooms have complimentary in-room WiFi, and use of the Executive Club Lounge.  The Business Center open from 7:00am to 11:00pm daily, located on the 4th floor has 10 computer workstations, scanning, printing, and copying available for guest's use for a reasonable charge.

The Executive Lounge for club level guests is located on the 38th floor, and is open daily from 6:30am until 10:00am and 10:30am on weekends. A complimentary breakfast buffet is served similar to what’s served at the Eton Café from 6:30am to 10:00am and 10:30am on weekends.  Happy hour is offered for club level guests with complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cocktails (including mixed drinks) and afternoon tea from 5:30pm to 7:30pm, and fresh fruit and snacks, soft drinks, beer, and wine are available all day long.  The Eton's Executive Lounge is quite large, and unlike club lounges at some hotels, there is ample seating with great views.  Fewer items are served at the lounge, than at the Eton Café, but there are some upgrades such as freshly squeezed juices and more personalized service. The views of the river and city from the Club Level lounge are great, and while you have some refreshments or enjoy your breakfast, you'll be treated to wide screen TVs, newspapers, and even more personal service.

There are 5 computer workstations with high speed Internet access, scanning, and printing for complimentary use by club level guests, as well as a concierge on duty to assist with any needs club level guests may have.

The beautiful Yu Ting restaurant, which offers delicious Cantonese dishes, seats 119, is located on the 5th floor, and is open for lunch and dinner. The service at Yu Ting is exceptional, the decor and views are breathtaking and most important, the food looks and tastes heavenly.

Yu Ting Restaurant VIP Dining Room - click to enlarge
Yu Ting Restaurant VIP Dining Room

Yu Ting has live seafood, which is kept in a tank in the kitchen, including Boston lobster, Australia lobster, spotted grouper, snapper, scallops, and oysters. 

When in season, Yu Ting serves Chinese Mitten crab, which is better known as the Big Sluice Crab or Shanghai Hairy Crab (上海毛蟹; in pinyin: shànghǎi máo xiè).  This tasty creature is named for its furry claws that look like mittens.  Its native in the coastal estuaries of eastern Asia from Korea in the north to the Fujian province of China in the south. It has also been introduced to Europe and North America where it is considered an invasive species.

Mitten crabs live in fresh water but when they are four or five years old, they must return to the ocean in late summer to breed downstream in the tidal estuaries.  After mating, the females continue seaward and spends the winter in deep ocean waters.  They return to brackish (part fresh and part sea) water in the spring to lay and hatch their eggs.  Their offspring gradually move upstream into freshwater, and the process of life starts all over again.

Another specialty of Yu Ting, is their home made sauces.  Some of their sauces are so delicious and so coveted by the guests, Yu Ting actually bottles them and offers them for sale.  I picked up a bottle of X.O. Sauce, a tangy, peppery fish sauce consisting of "Jinhua" ham, salted fish, Japanese conpoy, dried shrimp, sliced chili, and mashed garlic, and a secret ingredient (Chef Lee's special spicy chili sauce), for a mere $88 RMB per bottle including gift packing, which I used when I got back to Los Angeles to prepare some spotted grouper for my Chinese dinner guests, and they raved about it. Hopefully, they won't read this and find out the credit should go to Yu Ting's sauce rather than to me. 

The Eton Café, is located on the 3rd floor, serves American, Chinese and International ala carte dishes and buffet featured specials for up to 232 persons, and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sunday brunch is also offered from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

My flight was delayed, and I checked in after 10:30pm, but I have able to have a nice meal at the Eton Café, which is open 24 hours.

Yu Ting Restaurant - click to enlarge
Yu Ting Restaurant

Eton Café  - click to enlarge
 Café

An extensive breakfast buffet including 11 Asian items, 16 different hot dishes, 8 cereals, fresh salads, fresh cold cuts, Chinese and Japanese breakfast items, breads, muffins, bread pudding with chocolate and vanilla sauce, yogurt, fresh fruit, special made to order items such as Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, omelets, pancakes, French toast, waffles, and more is served 6:30am until 10:00am and 10:30am on Weekends.

Besides coffee and tea, the Eton Café, breakfast buffet includes fresh brewed coffee, cappuccino and espresso, fresh whole and 2% milk, orange, grapefruit, pineapple, and tomato juices, soft drinks, and domestic and imported beer and wine.  During peak season, a lunch and dinner buffet is served, and a substantial discount is offered for hotel guests.

What sets the  Café's breakfast buffet apart from others is their cereals are fresh, their breads and pastries are baked daily on the premises, and they serve cold cuts, cheeses, and salads, familiar offerings in Europe, but seldom offered in Asia, and made to order omelets, breakfast specials, pancakes, and waffles, as well as made to order noodles and soup.

Eton Café - click to enlarge Eton Café - click to enlarge

Eton Café - click to enlarge

Eton Café

Chicago Steak House Main Dining Room - click to enlarge
Chicago Steak House Main Dining Room

The Chicago Steak House is open for dinner daily from 6:00pm to 10:00pm, seats 56 persons and offers delicious steaks, chops, and seafood featuring fresh Australian prime Wagyu and Angus beef.

The service is also quite good here, and your steak will be precisely cooked to your specifications and accompanied by whatever sauce or accompaniment you've chosen.

I enjoyed the New York Steak, medium rare, accompanied by French onion soup, and a Cesar salad, and my dining companion tried rack of lamb. Envious of one another's choices, and ignoring western dining customs, we ended up trying each other's entrées, and both were scrumptious.

Super Bowl Express - click to enlarge
Super Bowl Express

The award winning Super Bowl Express is located on the ground level with a seating capacity of 112 persons. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served daily. This handy Asian bistro offers very affordable and very delicious made to order Chinese and Asian food that’s served almost instantly. Sunday brunch is served from 10:00am to 3:00pm; hot pot is offered from 5:00pm to 11:00pm daily.

What's nice about the Super Bowl Express is that you can get inexpensive food that's hot, fresh, and delicious. For example, some fresh beef noodle soup is about $3; that's quite a bit less than one would expect to pay for a hearty snack or light meal in the lobby of a five-star hotel.

Also located on the ground level is the Lobby Lounge serving beverages, high tea, and desserts. Guests and their visitors like to mull around there and listen to music, talk, and socialize while drinking tea and noshing.

While relaxing here and take some time to decompress there is complimentary WiFi, so you can also check your email on your smart phone or laptop, send IMs, use facetime on your iPhone while avoiding the need to rush back to your room to do it.  

Eton Hotel Shanghai Lobby Lounge - click to enlarge
 Eton Hotel Shanghai Lobby Lounge

Located on the 4th floor is the E-Bar which has a cigar bar, wine lounge, and Wii game room. This cozy and trendy lounge has cool drinks for guests including martinis, Singapore slings, domestic and imported draft and bottled beer, imported premium wines from Australia, Chile, France, South Africa, and California, a capacity of 64, and there are live music performances evenings from 9:00pm to midnight.

Live Performance at the E-Bar - click to elarge
Live Performance at the E-Bar
Ebar and Wii Game Room - click to enlarge
Ebar and Wii Game Room
Cigar Bar - click to enlarge
Cigar Bar

The Eton Hotel’s four restaurants serve authentic Cantonese dishes, as well as delicious Asian, American and Continental food. Special menus are offered for Chinese New Year, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other holidays. The 's diverse menus have dishes that appeal to everyone’s taste and budget, regardless of where they are from.

Sirko Otto, Food and Beverage Manager - click to enlarge
Sirko Otto, Food and Beverage Manager

According to the ’s Food and Beverage Manager, Sirko Otto, “what sets the Eton Hotel Shanghai apart from other five-star hotels in Shanghai is that we have Chinese Executive Chef Sam Kwok Lee and his staff preparing authentic Cantonese dishes, as well as our Western Chef, Michael Rohr, and his team preparing a wide array of popular Western dishes.”

Sirko has worked at many five-star resorts around the world; just prior to the Eton Hotel, he worked in a mega resort in Dubai, so he is no stranger to food and beverage service for discriminating international clientele. Sirko, whose wife is Chinese, really knows his way around Shanghai, and he understands and appreciates it's rich and diverse culture. He also keeps up on the competition and is quite knowledgeable about the culinary landscape in Shanghai and the rest of the world.

Executive Chef, Sam Kwok Lee who has been with the Eton Hotel Shanghai since opening day, has more than 30 years’ experience in Cantonese cuisine and has worked in major Chinese cities including Shanghai, Beijing, and Suzhou; as well as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Chef Lee and his staff, including Chef Foo Tee Loke, Chinese Specialty Chef, put the level of effort and detail into cooking for five as for 500, which is why the banquet and restaurant dishes are so carefully prepared and beautifully plated. When combined with the beautiful decor and polished service, dining at the Yu Ting, which he personally oversees, or at a banquet or special function, you'll feel like you are having a meal at the emperor's palace.

Executive Chef Sam Kwok Lee - click to enlarge
Executive Chef Sam Kwok Lee

One of Chef Lee's signature creations is the “hundred flowers delight” which has ingredients arranged like the petals of flowers around a centerpiece of luscious sweet water shrimp. The shrimp are cooked in egg roll skins to add an extra bit of crispiness and freshness. According to Sirko, “This dish is the one that always draws the highest praise when it’s presented.”

Another of Chef Lee’s signature, Claypot Rice with Preserved Sausage (pictured below) uses premium rice which is crisp and fragrant, yet easily absorbs the sauce that it’s cooked in. Yu Ting’s winter range of claypot rice also features steamed rice with beef and water-chestnut, steamed rice with chicken and mushroom, steamed rice with edible tree fungus red date and chicken, steamed rice with shrimp paste and pork.  

My favorite Chef Lee specials are the Roast Beijing Duck, crispy roasted duck with with fluffy Chinese pancakes, pickles, and sweet sauce, and the Spring Prawn Feast – your choice of fried prawns with Meiji sauce, boiled prawns with red dates and ginseng, deep friend prawns with taro paste, and prawns with vermicelli in noodle casserole.

“hundred flowers delight” - click to enlarge
“hundred flowers delight”

Executive Chef Michael Paul Rohr- click to enlarge
Executive Chef Michael Paul Rohr

Executive Chef Michael Paul Rohr has three decades of culinary experience ranging from five-star restaurants of major hotel chains and ski resorts, to high end cruise lines. Since Chef Michael came to the Eton Hotel Shanghai last year, many new western specialties have been introduced such as his Churrascaria Beef Skewer, lava stone grilled small sirloin steaks with special spices, over sautéed potatoes with bell peppers and Argentinean Chimichurri to suit your chiliastic taste buds. 

Chef Michael has new specials every month and frequently updates the menus, so there is always something new and interesting to try.  During my visit, his Classic Beef Stroganoff, morsels of beef tenderloin in a paprika flavored sauce with fresh mushroom, served with mashed potato, strips of pickled cucumber, beetroot and sour cream was the featured dish.

He has also helped to create a true harmony of Western and Asian cuisine and cooking methods, and the results are remarkably delicious.

Chef Michael is constantly refining the western and international menu and works closely with Chef Lee, making it possible for Western and Asian food to blend together in delicious harmony.


Churrascaria beef skewer
by Executive Chef Michael at Eton Café

Michael Ow - click to enlarge
Michael Ow
General Manager

The Eton has a truly international staff. You will find many employees to be fluent in English and Chinese and some of the staff also speak German, Japanese, Korean, and French.  The Eton's staff are also very service oriented.  It is no accident that the Eton Hotel Shanghai and its staff have racked up so many awards and accolades from Trip Advisor, Expedia, and others.

General Manager, Michel Ow, is a 40+ year hotel and hospitality veteran with extensive experience managing five-star resorts. He has been at the ’s helm for the past three years. Prior taking the helm at the , he was the President of Meritus hotels & Resorts and the Opening General Manager of the J.C. Mandarin in Shanghai.  Mr. Ow is fluent in English and Chinese, and several other Chinese dialects, as well as French. He knows the hotel and hospitality industry inside out. Mr. Ow manages the Eton Hotel Shanghai with graceful precision and brings a calmness and confidence that only comes from wisdom, experience, and ability, of which he has in abundance. His statesman like manner, his hands-on management style and attention to detail are also attributes exemplified by his senior staff and their subordinates.  


Chef Lee’s signature Claypot Rice
with Preserved Sausage

Davy Qin, Front Desk Manager, received his MBA from South Eastern University in Washington, D.C., and has worked for other five-star hotels such as The Landmark in Canton, Hotel De Champery in the Swiss Alps, and the Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia – a river away from Washington D.C. In China, prior to the Eton Hotel Shanghai, Qin worked for the J.C. Mandarin and Grand Hyatt. Qin has extraordinary customer service skills and guests find him to be sincere, warm, smart, and an amiable gentleman who is a master of oriental hospitality.

From Small Village to Bustling Metropolis

In 1842, Shanghai was a small fishing village on the Yangzi River delta. In the years that followed, Shanghai, which means “City Above the Sea” was influenced by the colonial trappings of British, French, and Americans shaping its diverse culture, architecture, and leading the way to Western influence of Shanghai's culture.

The Eton Eton Hotel Shanghai and its locale, Pudong district (in central Shanghai), is Shanghai’s hidden secret. Shanghai has many interesting and distinct areas, such as Old City, Former French Connection, The Bund and Nanjing Lu, and Pudong. The Shanghai's used to say, “Better to have a bed in Puxi, than an apartment in Pudong.” Admittedly, Puxi is a happening part of Shanghai with oodles of great restaurants, clubs, and things to do. But like the rest of Shanghai, Pudong has come a long way in the past decade and has transformed from a rural area to a magnificent futuristic city, punctuated with towering skyscrapers, wide flower and tree-lined boulevards, and topped off with the highly identifiable Mori Tower, affectionately referred as “the bottle opener.”

Regardless of where you stay in Shanghai, you will be traveling around the city by taxi and metro to the various neighborhoods and districts. So why not stay in style in the Pudong area without breaking the bank. At the , there are two complimentary shuttle buses each morning for in-house guests to as far as the Lujiazui Financial District. Or in 5 to 10 minutes for 25 to 50 rénmínbì a.ka. RMB ($3 or $4) by taxi you can get to most of Shanghai’s interesting and exciting areas, as well as some off-the-beaten track places. But why bother? Take the Metro for 3-7 RMB ($.32) and you can travel all around the city – even to the airport, train station, or bus station. A taxi to the airport should run about 150 RMB ($15), but you can just as easily pluck down a mere 50 RMB (40 RMB if you show your air ticket) one way or 80  RMB round trip, and take the Maglev to Pudong International Airport – which takes about 15 minutes from Downtown Shanghai, rather than 45 minutes or longer.

Transportation options and closeness of things aside, once you arrive at the Eton Hotel Shanghai, you may never want to leave; and with the ’s affordable rates, when you finally do leave, you can afford to return again and again.

 Hotel, Shanghai - (Yu Jing) 裕景
535 Pudong Avenue
Pudong New Area
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China  200120

Phone: 86-21-3878 9888
Fax:  86-21-3878 9889
Web:
http://www.hotelshanghai.cn

Rates vary from peak to off-season, for rates see HotelShanghai.com, Hotels.com, Ctrip.com, etc.

Photos Courtesy of Eton Hotel Shanghai

#  #  # 

Nick Anis is a food, wine, and travel and technology writer with over 24 books in print published by McGraw-Hill, Random House, Bantam, Ziff-Davis, Tab, and others. Nick's articles have appeared in The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, West Coast Media, The Family Publications Group, The Weekly News, and Travel-Watch.  His beats include food, travel, snow and waters sports, entertainment, family recreation, consumer electronics, home improvement, and automotive.  He is responsible for the Restaurant Row Ethnic Dining Guide, co-published by the Long Beach Press Telegram.  Nick is an accomplished downhill skier, PADI certified SCUBA diver, and when he's not sitting on his butt goofing off, enjoys a variety of active recreation including tennis, riding motorcycles, ATVs, wave runners, snow machines, horses, skeet and trap shooting he's also taken a stab at riding camels, donkeys, elephants, ostriches, lamas, dolphins, Reindeer, bulls, mechanical bulls, and buffalo.  Nick is a member (A Secretary/Treasurer) of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA), a member of the North American Snow Sports Journalist Association (NASJA), Computer Press Association, The Writer's Guild, and listed in Books in Print, Media Map, and Press Access.  You can reach Nick at Editor@Travel-Watch.com.

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