Shanghai modern with all her glitzy excess and old school glamour comes to a conference at the storied curve of the Huangpu River dubbed the Bund. While its narrow alleys may give you a glimpse of Shanghai’s intricacies from street-level, enjoy iconic skyscrapers like the curiously designed Shanghai World Financial Building that resembles a bottle opener and the futuristic Oriental Pearl Tower from higher ground. Here are our picks for the eight best vantage points to take it all in, with a cocktail in hand.
1. The Roof at Waterhouse
On the fourth floor of uber cool hotel The Waterhouse, The Roof at Waterhouse is one of the more relaxed spots to enjoy a drink with a view up the Huangpu River over The Bund and across to Lujiazui. Located further south than some of the other venues on this list, drinking on this terrace feels further removed from the action, but in a good way, contributing to a laidback vibe. With innovative cocktails (from 85RMB to 95RMB for a house special Vitamin C Vesper) and tasty bar snacks, this place is a destination in itself, but if you’re in the mood to make a night of it in this gorgeous and stylish hotel, head downstairs to Jason Atherton’s Table No. 1 for dinner and enjoy some seriously good modern European food.
Add: Third Floor, The Waterhouse at South Bund, 1-3 Maojiayuan Road, Huangpu District
Seeing Pudong from afar while you sip cocktails is one thing, but actually being in the center of all that neon is another. Located inside the Ritz-Carlton in the Shanghai ifc South Tower, Flair is about as well-placed and exclusive as it gets. A split-level outdoor terrace faces directly onto the magenta space-pods of the Oriental Pearl Tower, with the spread of downtown Puxi and Hongkou as a backdrop.
Designed by renowned Japanese interiors firm Super Potato, Flair is chic and subtly opulent with modern chandeliers, velvet and leather fittings, and sleek wooden floors. Signature cocktails include the vodka-based Crystal Blue Shanghai and the ginger mojito.
Add: 8 Century Avenue, Pudong New Area
3. Tops at Banyan Tree
This glamourous rooftop bar atop the Banyan Tree Hotel has one of the most impressive vistas in Shanghai, with 180 degree views up and down the Huangpu River and over The Bund. Drinks start around the 80RMB mark for a glass of Zonin Classici Pinot Grigio/Chianti, up to 150RMB for champagne cocktails. Food is also available if you’re feeling peckish; the chef’s specials include two types of Caesar salads, the first topped with grilled king prawns and the second with Cajun spiced chicken (both 198RMB). Despite the sometimes patchy service, it’s the perfect location to watch the sun go down over Shanghai.
Add: 13th Floor, Banyan Tree Hotel, 19 Gongping Road, Hongkou District
4. Vue Bar
Another popular place to take visitors for a sky-high drink is Hyatt on the Bund’s VUE Bar. Just north of Suzhou Creek, the view from the 32nd and 33rd floors is breathtaking. On the top level, they have an open-air terrace with daybeds surrounding a Jacuzzi. While the outdoor area and window seats get busy as the evening rolls on, VUE Bar currently opens at 2.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and is generally a little quieter around this time. Head down a couple of floors to level 30 and you can enjoy the views while dining in the VUE restaurant. Try their Sunday brunch with one of the best views in town and indulge in free-flow Perrier Jouet Champagne (688RMB plus 15 percent) and a wide range of dishes made fresh at the various cooking stations.
Add: 32nd-33rd Floors, Hyatt on the Bund, 199 Huangpu Road, Hongkou District
Shanghai’s sister property of the Kuala Lumpur dining staple has its home atop the Swatch Art Peace Hotel at the confluence of the Bund and the neon-lit commercial thoroughfare of Nanjing Dong Lu.
It offers a classic cityscape from its terrace, along with gorgeous architecture views that date back to the building’s days as the Palace Hotel in the early 1900s when the Bund was known as the Wall Street of Asia. Although thoroughly modern in décor, the terrace has an old-world feel thanks to the stone cupolas and domes at each corner.
Dine on a menu of pan-Asian and Western dishes ranging from sashimi to Boston lobster, and choose from a list of molecular mixology cocktails, wines, and beers. Shook!’s wine cellar is second to none in Shanghai, with vintages dating back to 1945 and a selection of rare vertical Bordeaux including Château Cheval Blanc and Château d’Yquem.
Add: 23 Nanjing East Road, Huangpu District
6. Bar Rouge
It would be impossible to write about drinks with a view in Shanghai without including Bar Rouge. Yes it’s expensive and sometimes a little pretentious, but the large terrace is a wonderful spot to go and check out the Lujiazui skyline while sipping Champagne with Shanghai’s high rollers. The most recent renovation kept all the red (it’s not called Bar Rouge for nothing) and the traditional ‘Bar Rouge Muse’ (whose body is plastered around the inside walls, thankfully covered in just the right places). But head outside to the terrace for a more chilled out vibe and enjoy the bright lights of the big city.
Add: Seventh Floor, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road, Huangpu District
Shen at first looks like another swanky Bund-side terrace bar, but pretentiousness is cast aside in the name of good drinks, tasty food and a laid-back atmosphere. This is one of our favourite spots to take out-of-towners to admire the gorgeous Lujiazui skyline. From the drinks menu, try the signature Chinglish (88RMB) for a light and citrusy sip that manages to mix baijiu with lychee and melon liqueurs into a very palatable cocktail. Also worth a taste is the food menu including dishes such as smoked fish in cotton candy puffs (48RMB), a heaving plate of chilli-covered spicy Sichuan chicken (48RMB) and shrimp and avocado rolls (48RMB).
Add: Seventh Floor, 7 Yanan Dong Road, Huangpu District
8. Captain’s Bar
A cheaper alternative to some of the bars on this list, the Captain’s Bar (on top of the Captain’s Hostel on Fuzhou Lu) hosts a fabulous view over Lujiazui, but with drinks ranging in price from 50RMB for a dry Martini to 70RMB for a Mojito you get that fancy rooftop feeling on a budget. Enjoy the slightly kitsch seaside feel that comes from the life buoys on the wall and embrace this place in all its weird and (relatively) affordable glory.
Add: Fifth Floor, Captain’s Hostel, 37 Fuzhou Road, Huangpu District