Itinerary is in Shanghai.
Why this tour was created
As a long time resident of Shanghai I have taken some time to build for you The Tour an exciting, comfortable way to discover the best of Shanghai in a day, and take home with you the most treasured souvenirs you could ever hope for in the form of some captivating and memorable stories to tell your friends.
I created The Tour to ensure you not only visit all of the essential areas of Shanghai (namely The Bund, the former French Concession and the former International Concession) in one day, but also to enhance your enjoyment, that you see it though the eyes of a high society fellow living in Shanghai during the 1930's Golden Era.
The Tour features 7 iconic buildings standing as fine and noble today as they did in 1930's and are mostly accessible. Each building solidly revealing to you one aspect of the life of our Bentley chauffeured high society man in Shanghai during the 1930's; Eccentricity, Fear, Decadence, Power, Riches, Control and Luxury.
The Tour starts at the eccentric Moller Villa estate near the 5 star hotels on Nanjing West Road and ends around 4 to 6 hours later at the former Shanghai Race Club building in the center of Shanghai timed perfectly for a spot of afternoon tea in K5, the fine cafe on the roof terrace. Twice during The Tour you will require a 20 minute ride to journey from building to building, whilst the rest can be covered on foot.
A side note: In the interest of concentrating the number of places visited during The Tour I have purposely left out Yu Yuan Gardens, as many of you will go on to see more grander tours of ancient Chinese culture in the other cities and towns in China such as Suzhou. I have also omitted the area of Pudong which I have concluded looks most impressive view over dinner from one of the fine restaurants on The Bund, especially when coupled with a rare vintage bottle of Bollinger - should you have the right connections. Other often visited areas such as The Shanghai Museum and Xin Tian Di are on the route between the featured iconic buildings, in case you want to stop off there also.
"The Tour of Shanghai"
9.30am. Starting in the former French Concession area you first encounter eccentricity at the Moller Villa, an extraordinary estate with a design based on the original owner’s daughters drawing of an imaginary fairytale castle.
Moller Villa is still the Moller Villa. 30 Shaanxi South Road, Jingan
10am. A short walk brings you to the fort like mansion of Mr. Du, the most feared man in Shanghai. Aside from heading up the most powerful underground gang in Shanghai Mr. Du also had an official role as the head of police for the French Concession. Known by many as “Big Eared Du” you would probably have been ill advised to refer to him by this sobriquet if invited you to pay him a visit at his residence here.
Du’s residence is now the Mansion Hotel, 82 Xinle Road, Xuhui District
11am. In need of an early gin and tonic to calm the nerves? Then take a short walk to the Circle Sportif Francais, the splendid French concession social club. A scandalous club that allowed women to freely join and not surprisingly hosted the wildest parties in its cruise ship inspired ballroom. The enchanting garden that beckons you out the front door of the Club is a vast bed of romantic secrets. The Circle Sportif Francais is now the Okura Garden Hotel 55 Maoming South Road, Luwan District
Take lunch around here perhaps on the top floor of the imposing Cathay Mansions just opposite.
The Cathay Mansions is now the Jinjiang Hotel
1pm. Straighten your tie and wipe off the lipstick smudges as you drive down to the seat of power at the Shanghai Club, on The Bund (International Concession). Here at the Long bar- the longest bar in Asia- you encounter the ruddy faced top rung foreign business men in China, or “Taipans”. The logic subscribed to is the ruddier the face, the more taipanier the taipan. Should you be seeking to make acquaintance with the heads of the powerful Swire and Jardine trading companies, you now know how to identify them.
The Shanghai Club is now the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, 2 Zhongshan Road (The Bund), Huangpu District
2pm. A few doors down brings you into the hushed vaults of the one of the finest and richest banks in the worlds, The Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, a spectacular example of how a private bank should present itself.
The HSBC is now the Pudong Development Bank, 12 Zhongshan Road (The Bund), Huangpu District
2.30pm. Loaded with silver dollars it is fortunately a quick walk back to your beautiful Cathay Hotel located in the sensational Egyptian Sphinx inspired Sassoon building. Here by chance you encounter Sir Victor Sassoon the man has managed to control a great part of Shanghai though aggressive property and hotel speculation done at a speed rarely seen except in board games. It’s not by chance his apartment in this building sits precisely where the head ornament sits on The Sphinx’s head.
The Cathay Hotel is now the Fairmont Peace Hotel, 20 Nanjing East Road, Huangpu District
3.30pm. Chauffeured from here up along the glittering “great mall of China” Nanjing road, the day ends at the racecourse, in the most sumptuous horse race club building of its time. Finish off with afternoon tea on the original top floor rooms, next to the clock tower of this perfectly appointed building. Look out across the heart of Shanghai – the original race course - a stretch of nature, the ultimate luxury for any city, guarded by walls upon walls of buildings as far as the eye can see.
The Shanghai Race Club house is now the Art Museum, 325 Nanjing West Road, Huangpu District