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February 28, 2010

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Cozy city retreat back to old Shanghai

AN Art Deco treasure in the heart of downtown, Ke Tang Jian is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate before steeping outside into the irresistible Shanghai atmosphere.

Located on the tree-lined Yongjia Road amidst a quiet residential area, this six-room boutique hotel oozes genuine old Shanghai aesthetics, both inside and outside.

Originally a European-style house built in 1936, the hotel owners have meticulously transformed the property into a comfortable inn and retained its historic heritage and charm. Reference and connection to 1930s' Shanghai culture comes mostly through materials and colors used.

Locals would be familiar with the meaning of "Ke Tang Jian" as it refers to the room where home owners receive guests in a rich Shanghainese family. "From the name of the hotel to the style we create, our aim is to simply retain and spread the Shanghainese culture. 'Ke Tang Jian' is an exquisite example of Shanghai bourgeois spirit and style," said Zhu Wei, one of the founders.

The hotel owners were attracted to the history of the building in which they can sense the passing of time in the structure, space and details. In trying to reconstruct the interior, they found the house's original floor plan in Shanghai Municipal Archive Bureau.

The sketch provided enough details to show the layout of the rooms and the placement of doors, windows and porch. They faithfully renovated the three-floor building according to the original plans to make guests feel like they were taking a trip through the decades back to the 1930s.

The hotel has almost all the peculiarities of the Art Deco style - vertical emphasis and a combination of flat and curved walls. A free-flowing space was created, giving a sense of coherence with mostly cream walls and rich, old wood floors throughout.

Step into this Art Deco gem and you will discover delightful ambience, seeing how the past has been preserved according to its original beauty. And you will be definitely tempted by the romance of staying in an old Shanghai-style room.

All of the four hotel partners are Art Deco aficionados who have collected various furniture pieces over the years. Their own collections are sprinkled through each guest room so each one takes on a slightly different character.

The rooms are arranged in sizes of 13.7, 35, and 38 square meters. Each of the six exquisite rooms - priced from 300-1,200 yuan - offers a personal sanctuary of comfort, distinguished by the elegance and charm of old Shanghai. Simple indeed, yet every detail from the stand-alone bathtub and old cabinet to Spanish-style tiles are a delight for the senses.

Ke Tang Jian has already built a reputation for its relaxed hospitality and great food served at Le Voyage on the ground floor. The restaurant focuses on Southeast Asian food but serves Western style breakfast for hotel guests.

The restaurant interior has an open design and cozy atmosphere, with glass doors that open onto an intimate wooden deck which is an outdoor dining area. The Art Deco tables and chairs in different shapes and styles are mix-matched to great effect. In the end, the owners tried to create a boutique hotel that harkens back to the historic building's Art Deco roots, but is chic and comfortable enough to draw today's discerning travelers.

Ke Tang Jian is providing quality and value, and a "home away from home" to visitors from all over the world. Just a short walk to shopping and dining, it is a perfect starting point for historic and scenic excursions.


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