High Tea at the Peace Hotel

While we had Zoe, Meredith’s friend, visiting us over Thanksgiving break, we decided to go to the Peace Hotel for a tour and High Tea on Saturday afternoon.

The Peace Hotel has a long history in Shanghai. It was originally completed in 1926 by Sir Victor Sassoon (yup, the shampoo guys), a British Sephardic Jew. At the time it was the tallest building in Shanghai and had the first elevator. It was host to many famous guests over the years including Charlie Chaplin, George Bernard Shaw, General Marshal, Noel Coward and President Bill Clinton.  It was known for its Old Jazz Bar and band, which has been resurrected and plays again today. From 1949 to 1956 it was used for government offices, but in 1956 it resumed its use as a hotel, the name being changed from the Cathay Hotel to the Peace Hotel. A major 3 year renovation was just completed in 2010 to bring it back to its 1920’s glory.

The lobby is large and domed.

There are signs posted that no pictures are allowed, but people ignore them. After observing the picture taking, the people working in the hotel eventually come over and tell everyone to stop. And then the cycle resumes. It’s kind of amusing. And why aren’t pictures allowed anyway? Something top secret going on at the Peace Hotel?

These murals showing scenes of Shanghai are on the walls

Looking toward the front entrance

Looking back into the hotel from an entrance that is always locked because it faces the river and as such would allow good fortune and wealth to flow out of the hotel and into the river. Also it is too far away from the center of the hotel to be kept secure.

A close up of the family crest showing the dogs heads, their symbol

Looking all the way down the hallway toward that door that is always locked. Probably makes sense, huh?

This is a fake door that we were told had been built because a movie was going to be shot here at the hotel. It's just made out of wood and painted to look like shiny brass. It's actually quite flimsy.

A week later we came back to buy gifts at the gift shop and they were actually shooting the movie! I surreptitiously got this very blurry picture of the actors repeatedly walking about 3-4 steps, turning around and doing it all over....again and again.... They seemed to be wearing flapper costumes.

This is one of the gorgeous restaurants in the hotel

A better view of the ceilings

During the Cultural Revolution, the employees at the hotel knew that the Red Guard were going to be coming and that they would destroy these medallions on the ceilings. So they stayed up all night covering the ceiling so they couldn't be seen.

Butterflies are a symbol of love and long life. As many butterflies as these must have been a very powerful symbol!

These are Lalique glass lamps which are apparently priceless. There are many of them at the hotel. I'm afraid I was unable to be impressed as I had never heard of Lalique glass, but if you know it, here's a picture for you.

The big banquet hall. I assumed it would be used for wedding receptions, but I was informed that it wouldn't be. Bummer.

Here we all are blowing away out on the roof with a view toward the Pearl Tower (the tall pink building) and the "can opener"--the building with the hole on top.

Looking down at all the people walking long the Bund

This was one of the suites that had a fabulous view looking out onto the bund.

All the rooms had these pretty pink lamps that I would have liked to take home.

Then began the main attraction--afternoon tea served by these lovely ladies, with an entire book full of teas to choose from.

There were savory little items

And gorgeous little desserts--that green item though? Mint meringue. Blech. Wouldn't recommend it.

Digestion was aided by the lovely tunes of this woman

Some happy customers

Outside the hotel

Looking down the Bund at all the people

Haven’t had any knitting content in a very long while (ever?) so I thought I’d post some pictures to show that I have actually done some knitting while I’ve been here. I finished a sweater I made for myself, but it’s too ugly to take a picture of. However, the hat and sweater I made for Meredith are quite cute, so:

Front view

Back view to show off the hat

Side view, because it's cute.

These are Starbuck's new winter coffee cups. It took us a minute to grasp the meaning of the phrase on the cup, so I can only imagine what a Chinese person, who has never experienced a snow day, must think what it means!

Our beautiful elevator flowers have been replaced by a very boring artificial tree so I'm going to show you our latest mail envelope courtesy of Kelly Smith, instead, which is a lot more charming and colorful.


About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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4 Responses to High Tea at the Peace Hotel

  1. Heidi Gerth says:

    That hotel is just beautiful-wow! I like the picture of all of you outside-the building in the background are fantastic. It reminds me of the Jestsons.
    Tina is so excited about her visit, she is ready to go anywhere and do anything!
    How was the soy sauce factory?

  2. Wow…I took the place of the elevator flowers…the pièce de résistance spot…laughing…but very honored 🙂

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