Waldorf Astoria Shanghai's Long Bar is a time capsule to the 1930s
Home to the city’s rich and famous, the Shanghai Club -- a private British gentlemen’s club -- opened its doors on the Bund in 1910. Just shy of 100 years later, the city’s moneyed and fabulous have their old stomping grounds back, thanks to the opening of the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai.
Joining other restorations, including the Peace Hotel and the Peninsula, all part of a US$70 million Bund face lift in preparation for the Expo, the Waldorf Astoria returns with its Long Bar, one of the best places to get a sense of historic 1930s Shanghai.
Bringing back the glory days
When the Shanghai Club opened in the early 1900s, it reportedly housed the world’s longest bar, which measured 39 feet, and was carved out of raw mahogany. It was a hub for the city’s aristocratic elite with a US$125 membership fee and US$9 monthly dues.
But entry into the club just wasn’t good enough for some.
It was one thing to be a member of the Shanghai Club, but it was an entirely different thing to sit on the coveted east end of the fabled Long Bar. The bar was a measure of social status among the influential Shanghailanders.
“While newcomers were relegated to the back end of the bar, the crème de la crème of Shanghai enjoyed the privilege of sitting on the east end of the bar, which accorded a view of the Huangpu," explains June Seah, director of marketing communications for the hotel. “Moving from one end of the Long Bar to the other signified an elevation of status.”
While the view from those desirable seats has drastically changed since the 1900s, the bar itself was rebuilt according to photos of the original.
The original bar was taken out, piece by piece, when the space was converted into a KFC in the 1990s.
The crème de la crème of Shanghai enjoyed the privilege of sitting on the east end of the bar, which accorded a view of the Huangpu. Moving from one end of the Long Bar to the other signified an elevation of status.— June Seah, director of marketing communications, Waldorf Astoria Shanghai
General manager of Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, Dirk De Cuyper, promises that with the reconstruction of the bar and the restoration of the Shanghai Club building, “Long Bar will, once again, play an important role in heavyweight deal-making and social gathering for those with refined taste.”
Long Bar at the Waldorf
While the Waldorf is now finally accepting reservations, Long Bar has been open for nearly two months serving drinks (starting at RMB 88) off their 39-foot bar. Although this is no longer the longest in the world, it does wear the crown for length in Shanghai.
Long Bar, despite all the glamour that comes with being housed off the spare-no-expense Waldorf lobby, is surprisingly comfortable, warm and masculine.
Deep leather and dark woods create the perfect atmosphere for sipping on whiskeys and listening to soft jazz, which, if you’re lucky, will come from one of their regular live entertainers.
In addition to their extensive drinks list, whose length rivals the span of the very bar on which they are served, Long Bar also offers a lavish oyster bar, featuring four varieties of the shellfish that are flown in every other week from the United States and France.
Other provisions off the bar’s menu include the Waldorf Salad (RMB 88), as well as the delicious and season-appropriate Shanghai Waldorf (RMB 98), which offers a local twist to the legendary dish -- crab meat.
So sink into one of their comfortable leather chairs while sipping your favorite whiskey, and you will soon be transported to Shanghai’s refined past. But this time, everyone is welcome.
Waldorf Astoria Shanghai
2 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu
Hours: daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
+86 21 6322 9988