A stylish oasis in the heart of old Shanghai

Tradition meets modernism in this sophisticated new hotel

The Mario Botta-designed Twelve at Hengshan, Shanghai
The Mario Botta-designed Twelve at Hengshan, Shanghai

Where Japan merges old and new with confidence, China’s hotels sometimes seem more adept in the art of historical pastiche: a faux Imperial aesthetic here, knock-off tribal inspirations there, to create disingenuous, inauthentic experiences of a nation’s history that was pretty much decimated by 20th-century politics. Twelve at Hengshan (www.luxurycollection.com; from £200), a new 171-room hotel opening on September 16 in Shanghai, stands apart for its sophisticated approach. The interior design subscribes to the Chinoiserie tradition, but the building is boldly modern in conception, by which Hengshan’s Scarpa- and Corbusier-inspired architect, Mario Botta, means to communicate that you could only be staying in China in the year 2012. The hotel is located among the art-deco buildings of the city’s old French Concession, where colonial gardens once formed the backdrop of that elegant tea-and-opium scene so immaculately described in Kazuo Ishiguro’s masterpiece When We Were Orphans. Hence the elliptical courtyard lung of green Botta has placed at the heart of this hotel.

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