An Architecture Tour of the Shanghai Bund: The Swatch Art Peace Hotel

With red-brick bolection on the façade, the South Building of the Peace Hotel stands out proudly among the row of imposing and solemn stone mansions on the Bund. Lively and warm, it brings a human touch to the Bund. Today, we will go to Bund 19 to take a close look at The Swatch Art Peace Hotel, the former Palace Hotel.

The Swatch Art Peace Hotel, Shanghai

The predecessor of Palace hotel was Central Hotel built in 1850s, which was renamed as Palace Hotel in 1903. In  1906, the old building was torn down to make way for the new one. In 1908, the reconstructed Palace hotel was opened to business, whose construction scale and facilities were top class even then. In order to make it convenient for the guests, two elevators were installed in the hotel, which made it the first building in Shanghai and even in China to have elevators. Palace Hotel was a luxurious hotel with multi-functions covering catering trades, accommodations, entertainment, social intercourse, and conferences. People in those days regarded it height of fashion to stay there and invite guests to parties held in the hotel. Whenever the Chinese government at that time held negotiations with the powers and had important meetings with the Concession administrations, the meeting room of the hotel would be the preferred venue. The hotel thus seemed to be the political center of Shanghai. It can be seen from the fact that the copper sign of “The International Opium Commission” is still hung on the wall of the hotel. The sign was put up there when the first meeting of the World Anti-Narcotics League was held here in 1909.

The Swatch Art Peace Hotel on the Bund

(At the entrance to the hotel, you can see the number “1906” and the  sign of “The International Opium Commission”)

In 1956, the hotel name was changed to “the South Building of Peace Hotel”. The hotel has continued to play an important role and many foreign leaders and political leaders have been received here ever since that time.

The present South Building of Peace hotel entails mix-structured architecture of English style. It has six stories. Viewed from East Nanjing Road, the building appears grand, while viewed from the Bund, it seems slender. Besides the effect of contrast, its narrow shape is also part of the reason. Observed closely, the windows and the moldings appear to be zigzagging.

The Swatch Art Peace Hotel-2

Once walking into the building, you will find yourselves immersed in the nobly golden light spread by the huge palace droplights on the ceiling. There is a broad wooden staircase at the entrance hall facing East Nanjing Road, with exquisite enchasing on the stair railings. In the eastern part of the first floor is a large dining hall which can seat 300. It presents an air of luxury with the teakwood decorations on the walls and plaster flowers on the ceiling. From the seats by the window, you may get a view of the bustling East Nanjing Road.

Apart from the top-level luxury guest rooms, the Palace hotel boasted the No. 1 roof garden in Shanghai with a Baroque pavilion on both its eastern and western ends. In 1914, the roof garden suffered a big fire which swallowed the two pavilions. The present ones were rebuilt in 1998, slightly different from the original ones. Standing in the roof garden, you could have a panoramic view of the Huangpu River to the east or the spectacular Nanjing Road to the west. Later it became a famous scenic spot in Shanghai. Now, the roof garden is a view roof.

The Swatch Art Peace Hotel-3

The South Building of Peace Hotel today has become “The Swatch Art Peace Hotel”. There are four brands under Swatch Group: Omega, Breguet, Blancpain and Swatch, each opening a flag store on the first floor.

The Swatch Art Peace Hotel-4

Travel Tips:

The Swatch Art Peace hotel possesses a favorable location on the intersection of East Nanjing Road and East Zhongshan Road No. 1, which has always been the busiest part on the Bund. According to statistics, among the top three places that tourist will surely visit in Shanghai, Pedestrian Street of East Nanjing Road, also called “The First Commercial Street in China”, always occupies a top position. The part of East Nanjing Road between Middle Henan Road and Middle Xizang Road is the highlight. Shopping centers, world-famous brands, traditional Chinese brands, and so on, can all be found here, which will fully satisfy your shopping needs.

In addition to the Pedestrian Street of East Nanjing Road, there are also some other roads that deserve a visit, for instance, Middle Sichuan Road hidden behind the Bund, and Jiujiang Road parallel to the Pedestrian Street. Many Chinese cuisines are found here, such as Yuxin Sichuan Restaurant, Wang Bao He Restaurant, Folk Restaurant, etc., all household brands in Shanghai.

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