Best unique view of Shanghai

Best unique view of Shanghai

A view of the Bund can grow a bit old as a dining companion. Next time you take a bite and gaze out the window, try a sight less seeen

CNNGo Best Eats Shanghai - JW MarriottGetting to the balcony off the JW Lounge is as close as you'll get to your own James Bond flick.

Recommended: JW Lounge, JW Marriott

See Shanghai from a different vantage point -- its center in People's Square. The spectacular view from the JW seems to argue that Shanghai is the center of the world, and a reminder of how great it is to be in the thick of it.

Order the RMB 20 balls of Movenpick ice cream (try a duo of chocolate and hazelnut) or the generous sashimi salad (RMB 75) with ebi shrimp, salmon slices and seaweed, which they'll bring out to the lounge from the Marriott Cafe. You can have your view and eat delicious sushi, too.

Guest Relations manager McLane Zhou gives up a tip: persuade a staff member to take you to the Marriott's library -- the highest library in the world. From there, it plays out like a James Bond movie: the staff can actually open a hidden door behind one of the bookshelves that leads out onto the crown of the building.

There's a deck, railings and an open-air view of the heart of Shanghai from just below the very peak of the building.

JW Lounge, 40/F, JW Marriott Hotel, 399 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Huangpi Nan Lu 南京西路399号40楼, 近黄陂南路, +86 21 5359 4969 ext.6864, hours: 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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Recommended: VUE Restaurant, Hyatt on the Bund

CNNGo Best Eats Shanghai - VUE RestaurantVUE Restaurant swings both ways -- it offers Puxi and Pudong Bund views.

VUE has a unique, almost 360-degree view of the Bund at which you can gaze for hours while enjoying the European fare. For the best view, request a table in the library area of the restaurant, right on the corner of the Bund-facing tower.

After your meal, take the stairs from VUE Bar to its jacuzzi level, where the punters and their entourages lounge on the padded couches.

If someone were to film a rap video in Shanghai, the pool party shots would be set here: the view, the white sofas and the ambiance are so fittingly lux.

VUE Restaurant, 30-31/F, West Tower, Hyatt on the Bund, 199 Huangpu Lu, near Dongdaming Lu 黄浦路199号外滩茂悦大酒店西楼30-31层, 近东大名路, +86 21 6393 1234 ext. 6328,, hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (30/F), 6 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. (30-31/F)

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Recommended: Bristot Coffee (formerly 1919)

CNNGo Best Eats Shanghai - Bristot coffeeGet a view of everyday life from Bristot Coffee.

In contrast to the high-powered hotel bars and restaurants on the list, Bristot Coffee's view beholds a typical Shanghainese neighborhood; it’s not a glamorous Bund vista, but it’s as much -- if not more so -- a part of what makes Shanghai all that it is.

The windows on the second floor offer a view of the French Concession’s Huashan Lu and Wulumuqi Lu intersection through the tops of the trees. All along the windows are wide wooden tables with leather booth seating.

The cafe offers free WiFi, so it's a great place to set up office as daily life buzzes by through Shanghai below.

Beware, though, that Bistrot is pricey for a cafe, even in Shanghai. Its menu selection strongly favors tea over coffee, and that's the recommended choice.

Try the raspberry vanilla tea from the Harrington Teas brand. It's easily the best fruit tea you've had in a while, and a mug is perfect alongside a novel.

Bistro Coffee, 1 Wulumuqi Zhong Lu, near Huashan Lu 乌鲁木齐中路1号, 近华山路, +86 21 6249 9117,, hours: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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Winner: Flair Rooftop Restaurant & Bar, Ritz-Carlton, Pudong

CNNGo Best Eats Shanghai - Ritz-Carlton Shanghai FlairGet up close and personal with the Pearl Tower from the new Ritz-Carlton.

At Flair, you're on top of a towering Lujiazui skyscraper overlooking a million lights in the dark, feeling as if you could reach out and touch them. That's what the view is like from the 58th floor rooftop bar and restaurant of the new Ritz-Carlton, Pudong.

"I think it's the best view in Shanghai," says restaurant consultant and chef Anthony Zhao. "It’s amazing.” 

The railings are glass and metal, almost transparent, making for the most spectacular restaurant view in town.

The Oriental Pearl Tower is so close; it looks like it’s in high-definition directly in front of you.

There's no smudged glass between you and sky. Look around and you'll see Hongkou, the 2010 Expo site, the Puxi side and Pudong sides of the Huangpu and even the tiny boats floating in between.

Most people come here for drinks (prices are standard for five-star hotels, around the RMB 90 range), but food is also available if you're willing to shell out for Asian food and seafood from the indoor sushi bar. Of course everything here is expensive, but remember -- you're here for the view.

Flair Rooftop Restaurant & Bar, Shanghai IFC, 8 Century Avenue, near Lujiazui Huan Lu 世纪大道8号上海国金中心, 近陆家嘴环路, +86 21 2020 1717,, hours: Sunday to Thursday 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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Joanne Yao is a writer and editor based in Shanghai.
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