Hidden gems of China's urban metropolis Shanghai

PHOTO: Instagram/Igeranas

Just back from… Shanghai

Trip duration: 3 Days and 2 Nights

Where I stayed: The Puli Hotel and Spa, located in the Jingan district of Shanghai. Pegged as a luxury urban resort, the mix of natural elements-from the tree-lined driveway to the view of nearby Jing'an Park-and industrial-chic decor made it a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the busy city.

Photo: Facebook/The Puli Hotel and Spa
Photo: Facebook/The Puli Hotel and Spa

Where I ate: The Shanghai outpost of Mercato, by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, is located in Three on the Bund. Upon entering the two private rooms set aside for us, we made a beeline for the windows to capture the Insta-worthy night view of The Bund. The food, of course, was no side note. Every dish of the sharing menu, from the starter of House Made Ricotta with Cranberry Compote, Olive Oil and Grilled Bread to the light-as-air Wild Mushroom Pizza, Three Cheeses and Farm Egg to the Tiramisu that ended the meal, was a feast for the eyes and stomach.

CaptionPhoto: Instagram/@mercato_hongkong

Where I drank: Ranked #9 on Asia's 50 Best Bars 2016, Union Trading Company is one of the buzziest watering holes in the city-and for good reason. The drinks menu changes every three months (you can request for the classics, of course) and features special seasonal ingredients (my drink contained chamomile-infused whisky) you're unlikely to find elsewhere-and the drinks are strong, too. The food is equally good: Think unpretentious American comfort food, reinvented and updated.

Photo: Facebook/The Union Trading Company

Where I shopped: Shanghai has no dearth of glitzy malls, as well as popular shopping enclaves like Tianzifang and Xintiandi. I made my way to Hengshan Fang, a former residential community that has been restored and now houses art galleries, boutique stores, restaurants and office spaces. The Mix Place takes up four separate buildings in the cluster: three of them stock a mix of international brands and homeware, while the last one, Mix-Paper, is a bookstore and cafe. Across its three floors, you'll find everything from classics (in both English as well as Chinese translations) to art and design tomes, to a 12m-long wall lined with independent magazines, as well as a curated mix of lifestyle wares.

Photo: Facebook/ The Mix Place

Why Shanghai? The city has a heady mix of tradition, culture and design, and I can't wait to explore more of it in trips to come.

This article is adapted from Harper's Bazaar Singapore.