The buzz: The Waldorf Astoria hotel at number 2 The Bund has opened its ‘Waldorf Astoria Club’ which includes the Long Bar, Salon de Ville tea room and a collection of luxury suites. The Long Bar is an exact replica of the Shanghai British Gentlemen’s Club bar which was popular in the 1920s with wealthy magnates and businessmen, and the longest in Shanghai. Serving classic cocktails from the New York Astoria, along with oysters and fusion hors d’oeuvres, it’s a slice of old-school luxury with that all-important view.
The look: Dark wood panels, lush carpet, an air of high-brow decadence. Walking into the hotel from the Bund is quite an experience – all marble, chandeliers glinting in the warm yellow light, the hush of butlers going about their business. A lot of places pride themselves on making you feel as if you’re “going back in time” but this place actually does. The Long Bar is on the left as you walk in.
The bar itself was reconstructed from photographs, as none of the original plans from the 1920s survived. In its time, the space has been home to a sailing club and a KFC, but now recaptures its former glory. Back in the day, where you sat at the bar came down to your social standing. New kids and upstarts had to sit at the top end near what’s now the oyster bar, while the big wigs and local celebrities got the great view from the windows at bottom end. Having said that, we’re not sure exactly how great the view would have been back then. We’ve heard Pudong was just a marsh in those days… Anyway. That’s the story, and we like it.
The music: Classic jazz. The sound of the harp from the Salon de Ville tea room across the hall. The soft chatter of rich people talking about how rich they are. The melody of money.
The crowd: Hotel guests, tourists, high rollers.
The drinks: The drinks menu is huge. Almost endless. Get the bar manager to help you pick something out or you’ll be there all night. He’s Chinese, but spent a decade in Dublin studying business and mixology, so has quite the charming accent. Many of the cocktail recipes come from the 1920s bar menus from the New York Waldorf, and most run to 88 RMB. There’s an ice-strewn bar stocked with fresh oysters as an accompaniment, and a menu of fusion bites.
Why you’ll be back: It’s classy. It’s pricey. It’s a little piece of history. It probably won’t become your regular Friday night haunt, but it’s worth a trip or two.