by Lara Nelson
While in Shanghai and Hong Kong, we had the opportunity to stay at the privately-owned hotels, whose signature is the amazing design and a few other features described below. The entrance of JIA Shanghai is so discreet, you would be forgiven for missing it altogether. In fact, most people do.
Strategically positioned on one of the most famous shopping streets of Shanghai, West Nanjing Rd, the hotel is a super cool, super chic oasis in the middle of a bustling city. The design is a mixture of contemporary and discreetly traditional Asian that should not be labeled because, quite simply, it is unique.
From the weathered wooden floors, to the muted lighting and sophisticated guests (who seem to accessorize the hotel perfectly) to the carefully selected music and high tech everything, the hotel doesn’t look and feel like a hotel but a private home of impeccable taste. Indeed, we learn that JIA in Mandarin means “home”.
Suddenly, many things make more sense… The lobby arranged as a drawing room, with the complimentary all day coffee, drinks and snacks; the central table with carefully arranged magazines and floor power points for computers, the complimentary WiFi throughout, the full y equipped kitchenette in every suite, the comfortable sitting area and music power point that allows you to listen to your Spotify selection everywhere in the apartment (for these are not mere hotel rooms, but studio pods), the exceptional quality bedding and edgy art on the walls…
What really takes JIA to a completely different level in the luxury hotel stakes is attention to detail rarely if ever seen in mere “luxury” hotels.
I mention to the hospitality manageress that I love the JIA signature bathroom products and she says every guest wants to take a large bottle of each home, as if anticipating my carefully staged request.
Everything at JIA is “just so” to the extent that if I start writing about it all, this feature would sound like an advertorial, which it is most definitely NOT. The best thing is to experience it. It comes with a warning, though: once you stay there, you would find it very hard indeed to stay in a regular 5 star hotel without finding fault with something or other.
The perception shift is subliminal, you see…
Oh, and lest I forget, JIA has the best Italian restaurant in Shanghai – just in case you’ve stayed long enough to tire of traditional Chinese fare!
The JIA hotel in Hong Kong is slick and modern without the opulence of its Shanghai sister. Space, always at a premium in this pulsating, super- busy city, is cleverly maximised and each room is, in fact, a small suite, with a sitting room, kitchen area and a “boudoir” style space near the window.
The JIA Hong Kong restaurant, named simply 308, is not part of the hotel here, but in a completely different part of town – the art gallery district in Holl ywood Road. Interestingly designed, it too offers Italian cuisine to palates that have overdosed on Oriental cuisine and looks hugel y well patronised.
While in Hong Kong, we met Joanne Ooi, clear air activist extraordinaire who founded The Clean Air Network, Yana Peel, the glamorous co-founder of the Outset Art Foundation, and Howard Bilton, CEO of the Sovereign Trust and Art Foundation.
It was quite fitting that we should meet Hong Kong’s most connected at the Kee Club, the meeting place for everyone who is anyone in the region.
Christian Rhomberg, Kee’s founder, joined in and later talked about the Budhist festival he is organising, about collecting art, his earl y days in Asia, how it all began and his newly opened Shanghai outpost.
Our stay in Hong Kong was short. The amazing energy about the place, the heaving industry of the people, the breathtaking beauty of the “outer territories” and the air of “it is all happening here and now” made me question the accepted wisdom that Europe and its Western capital cities are the centre of the world.
The magic of Hong Kong island is hard to beat.