By Hart Hagerty
October 07, 2014
Best Hotel Bars in Shanghai
Credit: Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong

You don’t have to reserve a room to experience the hedonistic pleasures hiding inside Shanghai’s very best hotels. Just sashay up to a seat at the bars inside these fabulous sanctuaries. Whether modern or contemporary, these urban oases offer luxurious reprieve from the constant rush of the city. The epitome of 1920s Shanghai glamour, Sir Elly’s inside the Peninsula is where to go to rub-elbows with China’s scene-makers and international tastemakers. Just down the road atop VUE Bar, young stylish crowds lounge in a large hot tub and in four-poster daybeds while admiring the dramatic light show over Pudong. Some hotel bars are so enticing, it’s tempting to linger long after sunset cocktails and stay for dinner. This is often the case for guests of Flair, which serves gourmet Asian tapas and sushi on a terrace 58 stories high. Back down on the Bund, The Long Bar at the Waldorf serves its signature cocktails with fresh raw oysters in a dark, masculine setting. Beware: all of this first-class service comes with a high premium, including an extra 15 percent service charge.


The Ritz Carlton Pudong Shanghai has been wowing travelers and residents with the captivating panoramas of their sky-high lounge Flair. Located on the 58th floor, the upscale lounge and sushi bar is the highest outdoor bar in the city, with a striking view of the Pearl Tower just before your eyes. If you’re unable to snag a coveted table outside (book in advance), Flair’s interior has an intimate ambience warmed by natural woods and a rustic fireplace. Guests can nestle into cozy nooks right against windows overlooking the entire city below. Like most things at the Ritz, drinks here require a fat wallet, topping in at RMB150 for some cocktails.

Long Bar

Immerse yourself in history as you settle into a seat at the Long Bar of The Waldorf Astoria. Formerly the Shanghai Club—an early 1900s gentleman’s club where gangsters and merchants gathered over cigars and spirits—the Long Bar was restored to its handsome, 34-meter-long glory and preserved the original’s dark, masculine ambience. Bowtie-sporting staff fastidiously work behind the bar preparing the original New York Waldorf’s signature cocktails like old fashioneds and “zazas” made famous before the “Big Drought” in 1919. Each night, a soulful female jazz singer livens up the room by crooning alongside a piano player.

Sir Elly’s Terrace

The terrace bar at the Peninsula Hotel’s fine French restaurant, Sir Elly’s, is the classiest spot to enjoy al fresco drinks on the Bund. With full-on glamour of a by-gone era and crème de le crème service (the French maître d’ always stays on his toes), Sir Elly’s is where Shanghai’s uber wealthy movers and shakers go to wind down and impress friends. The U-shaped terrace offers a 270-degree experience overlooking the promenade of colonial buildings, ships along the river and sparkling towers of Lujiazui. Drinks include rare whiskeys, special French wines and perfectly prepared tipples like dirty martinis.

Char at Indigo Hotel

CHAR is an excellent, elegant steakhouse housed in the young, stylish Indigo Hotel on the southern reaches of the Bund. The only thing that impresses guests more than the perfectly cooked cuts of premium beef is CHAR’s breathtaking rooftop bar. Perched on the 30th floor, this expansive terrace overlooks a stunning scene: the Bund dramatically sweeping northward, ships cruising along the Huangpu River and futuristic super towers of Lujiazui.