If you’ve been to The Opposite House in Beijing or The Upper House in Hong Kong, then you’ll more or less know what to expect at The Middle House in Shanghai. Floor to ceiling windows seem to be an important theme for each of the hotels as is the service, and most notably, the locations and architecture. Take for example The Upper House in Hong Kong, though located in the city center its infrastructure evokes discretion, minimalism and above all the characteristics of luxury living in a subtle sort of matter. These qualities are intrinsically similar to The Middle House except for its architecture. What you get at each of these houses are individualism at its core and by that we mean to say that each house has been designated an architect to design the hotels based on their own style whilst heavily incorporating the essence of the brand.
Located on Shanghai’s Hongqiao side of the city, The Middle House is well advantaged when it comes to proximity from the city center whilst maintaining an air of discretion and calm. Not far from the main high way and directly in between the shopping centers, boutiques and the park within walking distance, The Middle House makes for a well-positioned luxury hotel in Shanghai. You’ll notice discretion before setting foot into the hotel – with its dark paneled round aluminum louvers façade and an almost unnoticeable sign, this is a statement that says luxury does not have to be about boasting lavish entrances or embody bright and bold tones. Instead luxury can be minimal, it can be understated in its own story-telling way of which The Middle House is. The only striking contrast that exists at The Middle House is its truly stunning larger than life glass blown chandelier that hangs amongst the hotel’s green tiled walls. Art too is apparent as it is showcased throughout the hotel – from a Chinese gown laden with handmade porcelain butterflies to what appears to be a painting but up close are actually burnt marks on paper – this hotel has a story of its own, ultimately a combination of the old and new Shanghai. A representation in the form of a hotel if you will.
There are 111 rooms at The Middle House, each have been divided based on square meter ranging from 50 to 90. Each of the rooms are made up of similar layouts with the exception of varying sizes. On this occasion we experienced The Middle House’s Studio 90. Expansive room, hardwood flooring, separate walk in closet, floor to ceiling windows throughout, automatic shutters for a restful sleep, complimentary in-room maxi bar and luxury Bamford amenities, this is sheer comfort that you would expect. If we were to say what the best part of the room was it would most certainly have to be the interior design complimented by the space and floor to ceiling windows. There is a sense of wonderment when you’re able to view the city’s skyline from an interior setting offering aesthetic comfort and minimal tones, especially from a vantage point such as the plush bedding and high spec details. The room appeared clean, temperature controlled and refreshing – a way to further appreciate the room is to make use of its oval designed bathtub and Bamford bath products. You’ll soon be whisked off to a blissful calm with a spa designed bathroom in the comfort of your own room. With two separate sinks and an expansive rain shower, this vertical shaped bathroom is a little luxury in itself.
We also have to point out that the slippers provided were of superb quality compared to other luxury hotels we have reviewed thus far, and are just some of the smaller and finer details we noticed during our stay.
One thing to note about The Middle House and its sister houses is that service is consistent. One fine example is the check-in process – you are usually greeted right outside of the hotel where your belongings are taken care of and your comfort tended to right away, as if you were entering someone else’s home away from home. Instead of entering the check-in desk, we were led straight to our room and only told to hand in our passports after which a brief tour of the room was given. This was fast, efficient and private and other five-star chains would do well to follow suit as it gives customers that sense of importance and attention as well as comfort. Regardless if you are a VIP or not, this approach to hospitality is incomparable. In terms of efficiency, the in-room service and concierge were as expected and prompt. Nothing to complain there.
It is also important for us that the hotels we review cover aspects of sustainability especially in the hotel industry where high attention to the environment is imperative, a topic of relevance and large consequence. One would be pleased to know that The Middle House (and the Collective House in general) are finding ways to incorporate sustainability into their brand. This isn’t just about a simple card reading “Please help us save water” left forlorn atop the sink, rather they try to introduce sustainability in its message on minimalism, in its swimwear offering (located at the spa area) which uses recyclable materials, and even at its Café Gray Deluxe breakfast options (instead of the usual buffet which sees food wastage, breakfast is based on an a la carte menu). Its General Manager tries to enforce questions on sustainability with topics such as how to slowly rid the production of in-room slippers. Although it may seem like such a small portion of what a hotel offers, slippers are hard to recycle and to find ways to reduce this would be a great milestone.
A stay at The Middle House wouldn’t be complete without a visit to their in-hotel spa, Mi Xun. For the ultimate mood-lifter head underground where you’ll get a true sense of escapism in the form of spiritual zen. Concrete tones contrasted with bamboo details, sculptures dotted throughout and as if the lighting had a strategy of its own – this is bliss with minimal effort. In terms of spa treatments, we highly recommend opting for Mi Xun’s signature facial not just because this is first spa in China that uses products by Cha Ling (a skincare brand developed by LVMH) but why not give your face that much-needed nourishment? The session takes up to an hour starting with a warm and refreshing cleanse before a light scrub and mask are applied. Finally the application of Cha Ling serums and a moisturizer for an overall glow, what one hour can do. Of course, the products used will depend on your skin type, which you’ll be asked at the very start of your session. Once complete, we highly recommend a leisurely swim in the 33-meter indoor heated pool. You’ll notice a sauna and steam room just opposite the pool, enclosed in a dome-like structure. This is architecture at its best and is something to really admire. Whether on business or leisure, the spa is the ideal respite from a long day of busy.
Perhaps what is unique to its gym facilities is their inclusion of the HYPOXI machines. Unbeknown to us at the time, this machine is a scientifically proven device that reduces fat and improves the overall tone of your body by using a specially formed vacuum technology. You’ll have to wear a special suit upon entering the machine but after only three sessions, one will apparently notice results compared to daily workouts at the gym. This is definitely one to try.
Finally – food – and you’re not without options at The Middle House and not without mouthwatering flavors either. The hotel offers three different restaurants – Café Gray Deluxe for all day dining, Frasca for Italian cuisine and Sui Tang Li (perhaps our favorite) for a melange of Sichuan, Canton and Shanghainese flavors. If you’re craving for authentic Chinese cuisine with a twist, do try out Sui Tang Li and order the Pork Xiao Long Bao’s (soup dumplings) – they are even as delicious as the ones you get at famed Xiao Long Bao restaurant Din Tai Fung, we can promise you that. Also try their stir-fried angus beef as well as their caramelized prawns as they are cooked with that mild Sichuananese spice offering an altogether savory experience. Apparently, the restaurant is rather difficult to book for outside guests, so consider yourself lucky to dine at this restaurant should you get the chance to.
Breakfast is served daily from 7:30 to 10:30 at their Café Gray Deluxe and the options range from English, American to Chinese breakfast. One can either order the entire menu from each of the categories or else go a la carte. We do appreciate the decision to offer a menu as opposed to the buffet setting, however we do feel like the breakfast slightly lacked in terms of not offering a children’s breakfast menu as well as some of their cold-pressed juices like Green Elixir which wasn’t available during our entire stay. We would rate the breakfast option as reasonable and those who aren’t morning people will find this light and ample.
You’re in good hands when at The Middle House – a hotel that stands for subtle luxury lifestyle living with sustainability in mind. A hotel that is well-positioned but not smack in the center amidst the hustle and bustle. One comes here either for business or leisure to find a small sense of Zen and recluse before entering the busy days ahead. That is its purpose in Shanghai, to be that home away from home with an incomparable touch of luxury to make one feel complete comfort, convenience and maybe inspired – a look at their artwork and objects throughout the hotel and in the rooms signifies the properties individuality and character. What sets The Middle House apart from its sister houses is that they also operate as a residential living space. Parallel to the Hotel, The Residence offers 102 well-appointed rooms and if you’re wondering, yes the rooms are pretty much a carbon copy of the hotel rooms save for a living area, kitchenette and utensils. It is run as a service apartment therefore guests receive the same comfort in knowing that their rooms are taken care of.