Known in its heyday as the Cathay Hotel, the Fairmont Peace Hotel completed a highly-awaited renovation in 2010, with rooms updated and lobby and common areas restored to glittering condition. The hotel's vintage Art Deco style is a welcome change from the modern, sleek luxury hotel that has dominated the Shanghai scene in recent years. When you walk the hallways of the Peace Hotel, you can almost feel the weight of what China’s history since this building was erected back in 1929. It’s long been a draw for high-profile foreigners, including Charlie Chaplin and Noel Coward, who in 1930 wrote "Private Lives" in Room 314.
Service is top-notch, but there are still a few kinks to be worked out as the Peace Hotel’s iconic name merges with the Fairmont Hotel brand. For example, the restaurants are still trying to find their footing, but the hotel’s current general manager opened up the successful Kerry Shangri-La hotel in Pudong, so you’ll be in good hands. Even if you don’t stay here, it’s well worth your time to saunter into the masterful Art Deco lobby, stare at the majestic artwork—don’t forget to look up at the glass rotunda—and head over for a drink at the world-famous Jazz Bar, which has live music every night and is usually packed full of tourists. Afterward, step outside the hotel for a walk along the Huangpu River.