Situated east of the city’s old town, in an area known as Shiliupu—the focal point for shipping and trading activities in the 1800s—this converted 1930s army barrack opened as a hotel in 2010. The design blurs internal and external, public and private, with public spaces opening to glimpses of guest rooms, and accommodations looking onto public areas. The look is industrial-mod, with exposed brick walls, steel beams, and stone floors. Additions Over the existing concrete structure, built out of Cor-Ten steel, reflect the industrial past of this working dock. Furniture includes pieces by Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl, Hans Wegner, Antonio Citterio, and Kana Ishikawa (a former designer with Yoji Yamamoto). Each room is different, though, based on the traditional Shanghainese nong tang, or alleyway. Stairway rooms provide a view of the hotel courtyard; other rooms with French windows have vistas of the Huangpu River.
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The Waterhouse is situated near the 2010 World Expo site, and adjacent to the Cool Docks, a new commercial venture with shops, restaurants, and bars. The area remains refreshingly low-rise, with much of the architectural heritage intact. Shiliupu Fabric Market, where tourists and locals have their suits and gowns tailor-made, is a little north of the hotel.
Need to Know
Rooms: 8 rooms, 11 suites. From $210. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The lilliputian property has one restaurant and two bars. Table No. 1serves modern European cuisine. Order breakfast, light lunches, snacks, canapés and finger food at the Lobby Bar. The Roof at Waterhouse couples cocktails with views of Shanghai’s defining river. Spa and gym details: No spa or gym.
Who it's for: Leisure travelers, seekers of an out-of-the-ordinary hotel experience, and the insatiably inquisitive. Our favorite rooms: The Terrace Suite for its sunny, private outdoor space. Fun facts: There are staircases that lead to nowhere; take them for the novelty of it all. Sayings and quotes by famous people appear on the wall and floors.