Yangtze Hotel, home of the stars of Old Shanghai

Old Shanghai was a major touristic attraction. Although international travel at the pace of cruse ships and hydroplanes was much slower than in today’s jet age (see posts “No Flight to Shanghai”  and “Two months in rationnaire“), hotels of all categories where numerous then. A number of them have now been renovated, like the Cathay Hotel (see post “Return to the Sassoon House“) or created from Shanghai old monuments (see post “Shanghai Club revival“). One of the less wellknown is the Yangtze Hotel, currently the Langham Yangtze Hotel.

Yangtze Hotel, Hankou Road
Yangtze Hotel, Hankou Road

Yangtze hotel was planned in 1932 in a plot next to the newly built Moore Church designed by László Hudec. Near the Shanghai race course and Nanjing Road shopping street, the hotel was located in the entertainment area of the International Settlement. Designed by Chinese architect Paul Lin Pan 李蟠, the hotel was built by Pan Shang Lin 潘尚林 building firm. The same firm, who belonged to the family of famous Old Shanghai author Lynn Pan,  also built major landmark of the period including Park Hotel on People Square, Picardie Hotel on Heng Shan Road and the head quarters of  Bank of China on the Bund. The hotel external design is one the best examples of Art Deco architecture in Shanghai. Balconies in particular were decorated in the famous “Zig Zag Style” complementing the geometrical feel of the whole construction. Although is the middle of the city, it is less noticed at the corner of Hankou Lu and Yunnan lu, both one way streets away from it.

With is very modern design and location in the heart of the entertainment district, the Yangtze hotel quickly became the favorite of the entertainment crowd. The Great World entertainment center (corner of Xizang Lu and Yannan Lu) was only a few steps away, along with the theaters in the area. The hotel was also very close to the shopping mecca of Nanking Road, with Wing On department store among others. Finally, it was also very close to the race course as well as theaters such as the Grand Theater and the Metropole Theater. The Yangtze Hotel attracted Chinese celebrities, coming to dance on it’s famous spring wood dance floor in the Yangtze Ballroom. It was home to the first all Chinese Jazz Band, the Clear Wind Jazz Band. It’s resident singer was the legendary Yao Li who is most famous for the song “Rose, Rose I love you”.

1930's luggage label, Yangtze hotel, Shanghai
1930’s luggage label, Yangtze hotel, Shanghai

The hotel produced luggage labels like the one above in Art Deco style, perfectly fitting the hotel’s design and time period. I particularly like the Art Deco Chinese characters designs. Hotel luggage labels have long disappeared along with the attraction of the Yangtze Hotel for Chinese celebrities.

The interior of the hotel was ruinovated in the 1980’s and 1990’s in an effort to modernize it. It was used as a cheap hostel, like its sister hotel the Astor House on the North Bund. Original decoration including the famous spring wood floor was lost forever. From 2007, the hotel was renovated to put it to high level standard. Although not the original one, the current decoration is Art Deco inspired with a grand staircase and a stained glass ceiling similar to the ones of the time, like in the Cathay Hotel. With its new renovation the hotel still has a lot of charm both outside and inside, making it a nice place to stay in the middle of the city, but away from the modern hotels towers nearby, like a little time travel to Old Shanghai.

4 thoughts on “Yangtze Hotel, home of the stars of Old Shanghai”

  1. There is a general recommendation I’d like to make for other old Shanghai enthusiasts: to see the DVD of The White Countess. This is the last Merchant Ivory film, as Ismail Merchant died during filming. The cover blurb says the movie takes place in the glamorous, corrupt and boomtown atmosphere of 1930s Shanghai. It is wonderfully evocative and has Rose, Rose I Love You as part of the music, well sung by a local singer. The famous Russian writer and singer Alexander Vertinsky is also accurately, I think, portrayed. Script is by Kazuo Ishiguro and the whole Redgrave family act in the movie.

  2. We are so proud to be part of the history of Old Shanghai and assure you that we will do our utmost to protect and preserve the Art Deco details of The Langham Yangtze Boutique Hotel in Shanghai.

    Henk Meyknecht
    Managing Director
    The Langham Yangtze Boutique Hotel, Shanghai

  3. I am the grandson of Pan Shang Lin. It is good to know his name is still preserved in writing of old Shanghai. He was a native of Dinghai Zhoushan, an island off Ningpo. His Grand House still stands and our family has donated to the navy as an institute. A legacy well preserved.

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