Step out of your taxi on East Nanjing Road, just before it meets the Bund. You glance across the river at the bright lights of Pudong’s skyscrapers and the futuristic Pearl Tower, blinking pink against the dark sky, and gather your coat about you as the cool evening air swirls around your legs. You turn back and step through the oak and glass revolving doors of The Peace Hotel, and back in time some eighty years. It’s Shanghai, 1933. Look up at the golden glass art deco atrium as you walk towards the Orchid Lounge. To your left, a pair of heavy, dark wooden doors are where you’re headed, although they have no sign or title, no window to give some clue of what lies beyond them. No sound even, escapes from the room within, but as the hostess swings one open, you hear the sound of jazz, pure and simple.
You walk in, your eyes adjusting to the dim light of the dark wood panelled bar. The famous Peace Hotel Jazz Band is seated and playing ‘The Very Thought Of You’, as couples, elegantly dressed, dance on the parquet floor. Some of the band played together at The Peace Hotel in the good old days, before the Cultural Revolution put a pause in their playlist. What stories they would have to tell! Or perhaps they see it as having come full-circle – Shanghai is again in its heyday, and they, once again, are playing old standards like Night and Day, and That Old Devil Called Love, as the audience sip gin and tonics and smoke cigars.
The Fairmont Peace Hotel Jazz Bar
20 Nanjing East Rd, near the Bund
Ph +86 21 6321 6888
The Jazz Band play nightly from 7.30 – 10.15pm, followed at 10.30pm by Theo Croker.
Reservations suggested. 100 rmb minimum order applies.