I spent the month of October in Shanghai as a Visiting Scholar, and was provided with a per diem. Based primarily on the excellent, honest reviews in TripAdvisor I choose the Grand Central Hotel as the best value for my Yuan and had my host negotiate a good long-term rate, including breakfast. I was delighted in every way with my choice. While my work took me to several Shanghai research institutions in non-tourist locations, I choose to spend the month in a more tourist-friendly location so that I had things to do when not working. The hotel is very conveniently located adjacent to the Nanjing East pedestrian street with countless restaurants and shops, one block from Exit 4 of the Nanjing East Metro Station accessing Lines 2 and 10, and a short 15 minute walk to the Bund, where I frequented the Old Jazz Club at the Peace Hotel for excellent drinks and a night of Jazz for a cover charge of 150-200 Yuan. Sometimes I splurged and dined in their excellent coffee shop. I walked back at night to the Grand Central several times and felt reasonably safe, although single males are often solicited for massage or more -- but the solicitors leave you alone if you ignore them or say "No". People's Square with its excellent museums and other attractions is also a pleasant 15 minute walk, and numerous other attractions are a short subway ride away (Shanghai Zoo, French Concession, buses to Zhoujiajiao water town, a round trip on the MagLev to/from the Airport). A multi-purpose travel card, which can be purchased at a booth at the nearby Metro station can also be used on taxis as well as buses and is extremely useful and is highly recommended even for short stays if you plan to use taxis and public transportation, including the MagLev.
I frequently traveled by taxi and the hotel staff at the front door was always helpful in hailing a cab, informing the driver of my destination and welcoming me back to the hotel with a smile on my return. I always traveled with a card with the name of the hotel or other destination written in Mandarin. I followed the advice of others, choosing a room on the 15th floor facing the Nanjing East pedestrian street for a view but little noise, except some evenings when there were performances at the adjacent park on the pedestrian street. My room was spacious, clean and comfortable in every way, including the twice a day cleaning, with the evening turn-down and chocolates and multiple small bottles of water, which could be stored in the frig. The king-size bed with plenty of pillows was very comfortable, the temperature controls for the room were excellent, excellent task lighting, the separate tub and walk-in shower with plenty of fluffy towels, a room safe, flashlight, iron and ironing board, hairdrier, slippers, bathrobes, a good supply of toiletries, a comfortable desk by the window including a desk set with stapler, erasers, paper clips, etc., made me feel comfortable at my home away from home.
Because of my extended stay and business schedule I chose to have the breakfast included. I don't quite understand the complaints of some on this site concerning the quality of the breakfast -- freshly made eggs of your choice, a platter of tasty smoked salmon, fresh and canned fruits, freshly made pastry, crisp bacon and sausages, bread pudding, cold cereals, etc., etc. -- what's wrong with that? The smiling young women at the breakfast buffet knew me by room number after a few days and at night the young women by the main door also got to know me so I felt right at home. Most days Wi-Fi from my room worked fine so I could regularly stay in touch with family and colleagues by Skype. I never found time to use the pool although it looked very nice. When I was tired I sometimes chose to have the buffet or order from the menu at the lobby restaurant, where I could also listen to the live piano/flute/violin music.
Could anything be improved at the hotel? Well, perhaps the coffee should be hotter -- it wasn't hot enough for my taste. A better quality of orange juice would also be nice, since what was served was watery compared to what could be purchased in local shops. Also travelers should be advised that there is a second hotel immediately across the street from the Grand Central Hotel Shanghai with a similar name -- even my local driver was confused at first.
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