History: Fairmont Peace Hotel

Fairmont Peace Hotel – A History

Fairmont Peace Hotel has been a Shanghai landmark for over eight decades, enjoying a premier location on the Bund, facing the Pudong area over the Huangpu River.

The hotel is truly a fusion of ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, and was built in the Gothic style of the Chicago School.

The hotel is divided into the South Building and the North Building. Construction on the North Building, which was known as Sassoon House, started in 1926. Named for its owner, Sir Victor Sassoon, a prominent British businessman, the building rose 10 storeys and was designed by P & T (Palmer and Turner) Architects Limited. Floors four through nine comprised the Cathay Hotel, which officially opened on September 5, 1929.

The hotel was widely known as the luxurious "Number One mansion in the Far East ", due to its prime location along the Bund, and for its grandeur, including the distinctive copper-sheathed roof that rises 77 meters above ground, white Italian marble floors, and priceless Lalique glass artwork.

The Cathay Hotel welcomed distinguished guests from all over the world, including politicians, financiers, entrepreneurs, important Chinese officials and celebrities, such as General Marshall, Charlie Chaplin and Bernard Shaw. It was here that Noel Coward completed his famous play "Private Lives". The hotel was also renowned for its Old Jazz Bar, a favourite of the city’s expatriate community. Its band of six veteran musicians entertained dignitaries from around the world, and also toured to great acclaim in the United States and Asia.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, some of the offices were used by the Municipal Finance Committee. In 1952 the building was taken over by the Municipal Government. In 1956 it resumed trading as a hotel under the name "Peace Hotel".

The South Building dates back to the 1850’s, when it was known as Central Hotel. In 1903, the hotel was restructured and renamed Palace Hotel. Reaching six stories, it was the tallest building on Nanjing Road at the time. The building that stands today, featuring a Renaissance style exterior, was completed in 1908 and offered two elevators, the first building in Shanghai to do so. The hotel played a prominent role in local history over the coming decades. It was occupied by the Japanese army during World War II, and was used by the Municipal Construction Department from 1952 to 1965, when it returned to its original function as part of the Peace Hotel.

In 1992, Peace Hotel was listed as one of the famous hotels of the world by the World Hotel Association. It remains the only hotel in China to have received this recognition.

Return to Glamour
In 2007, the grand hotel closed for an extensive refurbishment program under the direction of HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates. The scope of the restoration has been all encompassing, providing a dramatic renewal of both the interior and exterior of the hotel, including guest rooms, the lobby, as well as the full range of dining and entertainment venues and guest facilities. The historic property has undergone a detailed structural study to define the hotel’s original floor plan and design schematics, with the intent to retain, architecturally, as much as possible.

The revitalized Fairmont Peace Hotel offers 270 deluxe guestrooms and suites with a selection of six restaurants and lounges. Included among these is the much-loved Jazz Bar, a Shanghai institution since the 1930s. In addition, the Jasmine Lounge on the ground floor, a mezzanine-level wine and cigar bar Cin Cin, as well as a heritage Chinese restaurant Dragon Phoenix on the 8th floor offer a new level of elegance and comfort befitting of today’s discerning travellers.

This 8th floor also hosts the Peace Hall, with its famed sprung-timber dance floor, plus several meeting rooms and an expansive outdoor terrace. A low-rise extension added to the rear of the hotel houses some guestrooms, plus  Fairmont’s award-winning Willow Stream Spa and a private, sky-lit swimming pool. The famous ‘Nine Nations Suites’ remains a feature of the new hotel: four of these (Indian, English, Chinese and American) are preserved from the old Peace Hotel, while the French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and German suites are redesigned in keeping with their original concepts.

A Presidential Suite occupies the 10th-floor penthouse where the hotel’s flamboyant creator and former owner, Victor Sassoon, once lived.

The refurbished Fairmont Peace Hotel ushers in a new era of elegance and comfort for discerning travelers to Shanghai. The hotel’s glamorous restyling enables it to sit alongside Fairmont’s impressive list of heritage hotels worldwide, including The Savoy, London and the Fairmont San Francisco.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts welcomes guests from all over the world to experience this legendary property.

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