Discovering Shanghai (Part I: HK Airlines Business Class, Ritz Carlton Portman, Tianxifang)

We kicked off 2019 with a family trip to… Shanghai, China! Better yet, we got to travel in style, as we flew Business Class from SFO to Hong Kong, spent one night in Hong Kong, and then flew Business Class to Shanghai.

No, we didn’t suddenly decide to splurge a few grand to travel in style, as that would be too uncharacteristic of us. We were one of the lucky ones that caught an amazing deal last year when Hong Kong Airlines had flights going from SFO to Bangkok, Shanghai, and Vietnam for just USD $650 round trip in Business Class! Hong Kong Airlines later announced it was an error on their part, but they decided to honor the tickets that people purchased. So classy of them, especially since they are on the verge of going bankrupt!

Anyway, off we went, and I have to say….the long haul flight was soooooooo much more enjoyable with lie down seats, a ton of personal space, and delicious food throughout the flight. Money can’t buy you happiness but it sure can buy you some serious comfort on international flights!

We arrived to Hong Kong in the early evening, so we met up with my sis and her family for dinner at Elements. It felt strange to be in Hong Kong for just one night!

The next morning, we flew to Shanghai, which was just a little over 2 hours. Upon arrival, we took a taxi to the Ritz Carlton Portman and checked into our very spacious and comfy room there. Because we were traveling in the off season, rates for the Ritz Carlton were fantastic, just over USD$200 per night!

The hotel was quite nice, but service was subpar. I’ve stayed at many Ritz Carltons before and even went through one of their client service training programs when I was a Wedding Planner that partnered with them, so I’m well aware of what the standards should be. This one just didn’t seem to have it together when it came to their service level, from the front desk to the restaurant staff to the concierge. Everyone was polite and courteous, but unhelpful in many ways. For example, we were out of hot water one night, and when we called the front desk, we spoke to multiple people who were unable to tell us why we didn’t have hot water and when we may get it back. It wasn’t even a helpful “let me find out and get back to you” but rather, just a “I don’t know.”

After we got settled into the hotel, we decided to venture out to explore a bit. I had bookmarked an area called Tianxifang that looked really interesting, so that was the first place we decided to hit.

Tianxifang turned out to be a really cool renovated residential area in the French Concession part of Shanghai, which now consists of small boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. It was drizzling a bit that afternoon, which made it less enjoyable to walk around, but we did like the vibe there.

For dinner, we went to this hotpot restaurant that my cousin recommended, and had the weirdest experience. We weren’t allowed to cook anything ourselves! Every time we tried to place food in the pot, a server would come over to stop us. It definitely was not the type of hotpot we were used to, but the soup base was delicious, and they actually get you to drink some of the soup before you start putting food in to be cooked.

Next up in Part II. will be our adventures around Old City, The Bund, Yu Garden, and a really fun day trip to Zhujiajiao Water Town!


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