Capella Shanghai is neatly arranged within an increasingly rare group of traditional shikumen townhouses. The property is in the heart of the French Concession’s tree-lined streets, setting the mood for a relaxing stay before you’ve even arrived. After a very long travel day, we schedule a massage upon our arrival at the world-class Auriga Spa and relax with dinner in our beautiful villa.

We wake up early the next morning and attempt to cure our jet lag with a wonderful breakfast at Le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire before getting a full tour of the grounds with the Capella team. For lunch, our Capella Culturist, Alvin, takes us to JianGuo 328, a short walk from the hotel. A local’s favorite, the cozy restaurant is full of energy and people. The waitress briskly takes our order without interrupting her routine. We sample a medley of local greens, tofu and noodle dishes that satisfy our craving for an authentic Shanghainese meal and experience.

After lunch, we head to a fascinating and challenging course in Chinese calligraphy. We learn the tedious and skillful process from a true master who is dedicated to teaching and preserving the ancient tradition. With a new appreciation for this art, we return to our villa to decompress before we depart for our next meal.

We recline the rear seats and open the sunroof in Capella’s Maybach and enjoy a short ride to dinner at FuHeHui, a Michelin-starred restaurant specializing in artfully crafted vegan dishes and teas. After such an inspiring meal, we feel reinvigorated and continue the night with champagne at POP Bar in a part of central Shanghai called The Bund. POP Bar is worth having a drink at just to see the stunning rooftop terrace overlooking the Huangpu River and impressive skyline of Shanghai.

After a late night, we wake up to a beautiful morning and have breakfast outside in the garden. Strict laws limiting noise pollution make the narrow lanes of Capella’s property seem more like a nature preserve than a popular hotel bustling with activity. After a last cup of coffee, we head over to one of the private residences on the grounds. As part of the Capella Curates program, the team invites a local legend, Auntie Wang, to show us how to cook a few of the area’s classic dishes. While we master our egg-rolling technique, we learn about Auntie Wang’s childhood growing up in the very same neighborhood as Capella during it’s mid-century golden era. Once the sizzling and steaming subsided, we sit together for a feast of five traditional courses made of all local ingredients.

To soothe our full stomachs, we take a stroll through the neighborhood to the exclusive YunNan Tea House. A colorful building rich with historic artifacts and souvenirs inspired by chayi (“the art of drinking tea”), we feel as though we have stepped back in time. We learn about tea culture in China and its many unique customs, which have been passed down for generations. After a day full of learning the masterful processes of the culinary heritage of Shanghai, we head back to our luxurious villa to get ready for what we know will be a special dinner.

Capella Shanghai’s own restaurant happens to be Pierre Gagnaire’s incredible Michelin-starred, Le Comptoir. We walk to dinner from our villa across the small courtyard which was once the community’s wet market. Greeted by the accomplished chef, Romain Chapel, we settle in for an intimate five-course meal and wine pairing. Impeccable service and French cuisine shine in this well-oiled establishment, and we end an unforgettable evening with a selection of desserts to die for. 

On our last day, we explore the French Concession on bicycles provided by Capella. We ride through the London plane tree-tunnels past hip cafe’s, art galleries and florist shops. Within a few short blocks, we see an astonishing variety of shops and architecture that make us wish we had more time to spend exploring Shanghai. To make it even harder for us to leave, we go to Capella’s own La Boulangerie to meet pastry chef, Clement Ayache, for coffee and a sweet treat before heading to the airport. With a wealth of new knowledge and friends, we leave Shanghai eager to return again soon.

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