The best boutique hotels in Shanghai, from hip hideaways to ancient villas

Lee Cobaj
These ancient villas and huge camphor tree were saved from being submerged by the imminent building of a dam and recreated 434 miles away as Amanyangyun - Copyright 2017 Sui Sicong, All Rights Reserved.

In this sprawling megatropolis of over 24 million people, home to some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, it appears that big is beautiful. But against this fast-paced high-rise backdrop there are some very special small packages to be found, from tiny galleries hidden in old French mansions, to speakeasies secreted in basements, to inventive boutique hotels scattered in shikumen-style back streets and out the way water villages. But, while Shanghai has its fair share of small hotels, quality and standards of service can be an issue. We've narrowed down the best of the bunch for you here.  

The Middle House hotel Shanghai, China

The Middle House

Shanghai, China

9Telegraph expert rating

This fashionable hotel is split between two curving, futuristic-feeling towers in bustling Jing An. Enter the lobby and you'll find a warm, intimate, arty space, with forest-green bamboo wall tiles, a showstopping 3,760-piece Venetian chandelier, a collection of cutting-edge Chinese art and Shanghai's wealthy young professionals draped on low-slung sofas. Spacious rooms feature an elegant palette of charcoal, nutmeg and navy, with cool touches such as custom-made ceramic headboards criss-crossed with Chinese calligraphy, leather-bound La Boite bluetooth speakers and silky pull-ropes for master switches. Read expert review From £196 per night Check availability Rates provided by

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Capella Shanghai hotel

Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li

Shanghai, China

8Telegraph expert rating

Transforming a remaining pocket of traditional shikumen laneways, originally built in the 1930s by French settlers, this all-villa resort gives visitors a taste of traditional lane life. The red-brick alleys, once housing more than 200 local families, are now home to just 55 private residences and 40 villas with embellished stone entrances and lush inner courtyards. Flowering vines and bronze sculptures adorn secret gardens, while a cosy library enhances the residential vibe. Designer Jaya Ibrahim’s vision is a fresh update on 1930s French-Chinoiserie elegance with high ceilings and traditional redwood-framed windows. Read expert review From £329 per night Check availability Rates provided by

The best hotels in Shanghai

Amanyangyun hotel Shanghai China


Shanghai, China

8Telegraph expert rating

These ancient villas and huge camphor tree were originally situated in Jiangzi Province, but the imminent building of a dam would have submerged them. Local entrepreneur Ma Dadong decided to set about preserving them, a feat which involved moving them piece by piece – and trunk by trunk – 434 miles away, to be reassembled 15 years later as the soul of Amanyangyun. The architects drew on the design of these Ming and Qing dynasty villas, with their courtyards, wooden lattice work and black stone to create the rest of this resort, skilfully blending typical Aman minimalism into the mix. The result is enormously impressive. Read expert review From £682 per night

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The Shanghai EDITION, Shanghai, China

The Shanghai EDITION

Shanghai, China

9Telegraph expert rating

Ian Schrager’s vision for multi-dimensional modern luxury melds familiar Shanghai touchpoints with global pizzazz and a few inspiring hospitality twists. A strong soundtrack and generous sprinkling of bars (nine in total) and pool tables gives the hotel an undercurrent of FashionTV cool, but beyond that the spaces are both sophisticated and understated. Natural walnut and oak, vibrant velvets, and infusions of leafy greenery keep things relaxed and intimate throughout. With just 145 rooms (decidedly low-key, with comfort a priority) and nine dining and drinking venues, it feels more hub than hotel. Read expert review From £189 per night Check availability Rates provided by

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The Puli Hotel And Spa

The PuLi Hotel And Spa

Shanghai, China

8Telegraph expert rating

This glamorous city centre hotel is a favourite with the Shanghai’s fashion set, who come to shoot magazine covers in the sleek minimalist lobby, peacock with friends at the Long Bar, boast of getting a table at Michelin-starred Phenix and rejuvenate in the shadowy spa. In the summer months, the outdoor terrace is the place to see and be seen, while in winter you’ll want to snag a space in front of the fireplace in the low-lit library. The 229 rooms are sleek and sensual spaces, with lashings of dark wood, crisp-white beds and huge soapstone bathtubs looking out over the city – all very Zen. Read expert review From £185 per night Check availability Rates provided by

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Contributions by Amy Fabris-Shi, Mary Lussiana & Thomas O'Malley