Review of Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai

Two weeks ago, I was sent to Shanghai on a last minute business trip for an urgent court application.
The view from my office in Shanghai.
People who go on business trips are usually familiar with the pain and pleasure that accompanies them - on the one hand, you're stoked that you get a free flight (which helps with upping your air mileage and frequent flyer status) and generally good accommodation and meals paid for by the client...but on the other hand, you're expected to work insane hours sitting inside a windowless office either reviewing tedious documents or interviewing clients who have a million better things to do than speak to the lawyer that has showed up on their doorstep.

Despite the frantic hours and high levels of stress, I'm insanely (because that is probably the only appropriate word to describe it) grateful for the experience...and the billable hours I tallied up, of course. (Oh, and we won the court application.)

I stayed in a Deluxe Room (US$300) at the Portman Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai because I had been told it was close to the client's office, and the Ritz Carlton generally has a strong and consistent reputation for high quality accommodation. Unfortunately, while the service was good, the Portman Ritz Carlton (which was designed by architect John Portman) was a little dated and the food was below par.

portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel lobby review
portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel lobby review


portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel lobby review
The room

The room was a decent size for one person but the decor was not particularly outstanding, although the TV cabinet cupboards were artfully designed to look like antique Chinese drawers. There was a large king sized bed, with only a small coffee table and one adequate study desk.

portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel review deluxe room bedroom

Unlike other business hotels, the stationery drawer was surprisingly not sufficiently stocked, with only piecemeal items provided, and the ironing board had some stains on it.

Even worse, the free internet wifi connection was poor and cut constantly in and out, which was particularly obvious when I attempted to use citrix to access my work desktop remotely. Given that the hotel caters largely to business travellers, I was rather surprised, and I ended up being forced to rely on data roaming to do my work.

portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel review deluxe room bedroom

The bathroom was a good size with a stand alone shower and long bathtub to comfortably fit one person. The sandstone coloured marble and bright lighting made the bathroom feel less dated than the room, and in a bold and modern move, there was a large wall length mirror placed along the bathtub.

portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel review deluxe room bathroom
portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel review deluxe room bathroom

The food

On the first night, I had no time for a proper meal but instead ordered Shanghainese BBQ pork ribs to be delivered to my room. Although I was warned that they would take 30 mins to arrive at my room, the came in about 10 mins - and were appalling. The dish was cold and what little low quality meat was on the rib bones came swimming in sauce. There were no vegetables with this dish, with only a little coriander on top.

portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel review shanghainese bbq ribs food room service

The pinot noir that I ordered was weak in both flavour and colour and tasted a little sour. I subsequently ordered an Australian Jacobs Creek Shiraz which was better (and that is saying something!), although the wine glass was completely different to the pinot's - and I don't think this was deliberate.

portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel review shanghainese bbq ribs food room service

Food the following night at the restaurant downstairs, Tables, was no better: I had a chicken laksa that came with soft noodles and no flavour aside from the overwhelming taste of coconut.

portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel review tables restaurant
portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel review tables restaurant

Breakfast was a buffet at Tables that came with almost every type of food you could imagine - pastries (with waffles but sadly no crepes), oatmeal and cereal, fruit, a noodle bar, sushi, miso soup, eggs and meat, and hot Asian and Western dishes. The noodle bar is definitely worth a visit, although the portions are very small - so make that a few visits!

portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel review tables restaurant breakfast buffet
portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel review tables restaurant breakfast buffet

The takeaway

On the upside - the service was excellent. I was taken directly to my room for in-room check in, and the helpful staff registered me for the Ritz Carlton loyalty programme. Their English was excellent, and the service and room service was prompt.

I also had a hotel car pick me up from the airport and take me to the hotel, and when I arranged for the car to take me back to the airport from the client's office instead of the hotel, they were happy to oblige at no extra cost.

portman ritz-carlton shanghai china prc hotel review

  1. Try not to rely too heavily on their free room wi-fi, which was patchy at best. You may have better luck downstairs in the lobby or restaurant.
  2. Do feel comfortable about the level of English service offered - the staff have good language skills, and are very welcoming and polite.
  3. If you are concerned about getting to the hotel from the airport or you arrive late at night (keep in mind there is another Ritz Carlton in Shanghai, so you need to have some language skills to tell taxi drivers which one you want to go to), pre-order a car from the hotel (which I was able to do the same day I arrived). They picked me up from the airport in an E Class Mercedes Benz for around RMB 1,000, and it was worth it to not go through the hassle of trying to find my way to the hotel without Mandarin language skills at 11 pm at night.
xx Carmen

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