24 hours in shanghai
posted: February 24, 2014
In a city known for its record-setting skyscrapers and noteworthy architecture, we discovered that there’s a whole lot of exploring to be done at street level in Shanghai, the home of our brand new Xintandi showroom. We looked to journalist-turned-designer Hart Hagerty, the woman behind fashion blog Shanghai Style File (who recently launched a niche line of jackets, Hart, featuring rare vintage embroidery, sourced from small villages in Southwest China) to lead us through the city’s eclectic streets. Over to Hart…
I first came to Shanghai in 2008 to study abroad as part of my Chinese major, and I instantly fell in love with the city’s high energy and unique blend of East and West, old and new.
My work is quite varied, but it always involves research so I’m constantly checking out the latest stores, scouting trends and connecting with Shanghai’s stylish movers and shakers. It is such a dynamic city with killer new stores, hotels, bars and restaurants opening every week. I’ve got to hustle to stay on top of what’s cool. Blink and you’ll fall behind.
7:00am – Rise and shine
At this peaceful hour, I have the city to myself—except for the charming company of the elderly walking their poodles, practicing tai chi and dancing in parks. I start my day with a run in my neighbourhood, the French Concession. It’s filled with quiet tree-lined streets and art deco mansions. I like cruising around the winding Hunan, Wukang, Yuqing and Kangping roads, especially through the interconnecting, hidden alleyways.
Afterwards, a homemade green smoothie is a must. It’s always jam packed with ingredients from my neighbourhood vegetable market and from the Avocado Lady, a savvy local woman who transformed her modest fruit stand into Shanghai’s favourite import grocery store.
Hart, left, and the tree-lined streets of the French Concession
9:00am – Breakfast like a local
On weekends I start my day early at Ferguson Lane. It’s a quiet complex, home to a lovely French bakery Farine with an outdoor terrace prime for people-watching. The food is sinfully delicious, but try to save room for weekend brunch—either dim sum at Crystal Jade or eggs benedict and the s’more dessert at Madison (stretchy waistbands highly recommended).
Hart, at Bakery Farine
10am – Meet and greet
Every week I get to sit down with such inspiring people, designers, creatives and marketers who dish on the latest trends and news. I usually take a quick bike ride over to my new favourite spot for coffee meetings, SeeSaw Café , which is nestled in the light flooded atrium of the Jing’An Design Center. The sunny vibe makes it the perfect place to pound away at projects.
For a change in scenery, just down the road is the heaven on earth for hardcore coffee lovers. Sumerian is a small, laid back café where coffee is equal parts science and art.
11:00am – Window shop
I need to be on top of the rapidly changing retail scene. So, first stop on this day is a fantastic newcomer from Milan, 10 Corso Como, which blends gallery, café, bar and boutique into one stunning four-storey space.
I continue on foot to the stylish stretch of Fumin Road, home to Dong Liang boutique, which stocks the cream of China’s design crop like Helen Lee, The Backroom and more. Around the corner on Julu Road is Brocade Country, a treasure trove of drop-dead gorgeous textiles, clothing and jewelry crafted by China’s artisans from the Guizhou and Yunnan provinces.
Boutiques and beauties, the art of style in Shanghai
1:30pm – Dig in
Shanghai has no shortage of fantastic restaurants. If you’re feeling swanky, Jing’An restaurant at the zen-chic Puli Hotel and Spa is worth every RMB. Every square inch of the hotel oozes cool sophistication—definitely my pick for a stay-cation.
I’ll never get enough of the exotic flavours of China’s Muslim cuisine, and Xibo serves it up in a cool, contemporary setting. On Fridays, I’ll meet my foodie friends right at the source, the Muslim Market on Aomen Road. At the bustling, vibrant street market, vendors from China’s Xinjiang province sell freshly made regional dishes like pumpkin dumplings, juicy kebabs and lamb with rice pilaf.
Gorgeous local cuisine
3pm – Afternoon stroll in the park
The frenetic pace of Shanghai, while inspiring, can be overwhelming. When it does, I take refuge in Fuxing Park, where locals fly kites, play cards and mahjong, ballroom dance and practice tai chi. Come spring, the green lawn is the perfect spot to lie down with a blanket and book, and, there’s plenty of room to sprawl out and picnic.
Fuxing Park is a place to retreat from the bustle of Shanghai
4pm – Let loose
Fuxing Park is just down the road from Xintiandi, the high-end ‘hood that’s home to lululemon’s first showroom in China. I like to refuel with a fresh juice at Simply Life Bakery or treat myself to a hot stone rubdown at Green Massage, during which you will melt into a puddle of pure ecstasy. I promise.
Behind this door lies pure escape
5:30pm – Bend and stretch
Xintiandi is home to the flagship of one of Shanghai’s top studios, Y+ Yoga, where I love to retreat into a meditation alcove after a flow class.
Hart stretches out at Y+ Yoga
7:00pm – Unwine’d
After yoga, I like to wind down the day with a glass of wine. For a cozy vibe, Dr. Wine is a neighbourhood favourite any night of the week. It’s the type of place where ‘just one glass’ blissfully evolves into sharing a whole bottle. I also like to watch the sunset on the massive rooftop terrace of Kartel, which has 360-degree views of the heart of the city.
The doctor is in at Dr. Wine
8:30pm – Fine dine
In the Jing’An district, Michelin Star chef Jason Atherton has created quite the frenzy with The Commune Social, a stunning restaurant serving creative tapas, cocktails and desserts. They don’t accept reservations, but waiting for a table at the bar is time very well spent.
If you happen to be wondering where Shanghai’s foodies go again and again, remember these three words: Hai by Goga.
10pm – Get your Gatsby on
Late night, you can find me sipping on an Old Fashioned at Senator Saloon, a prohibition-era speakeasy. With its dark wooden interior and jazzy music, it’s a great way to end a day, tucked into a booth with friends sharing great drinks and endless laughs.
Every time I’m at Arcade, I feel like I’m at a cool house party with DJs spinning unexpected, creative tracks. One drink here immediately kicks the night up a notch or two. Later, I’ll head east to the Bund, where Shanghai’s sex, wild side really comes out to play. Unico gets rowdy around midnight, fuelled by a live band playing Latin music. The vibe is infectious so don’t be surprised if, several hours later, you’ll find yourself entering the cabaret madhouse of Cirque Le Soir or belting out songs at Partyworld.
A woman after our own Hart