Shanghai is the biggest city in China (a metropolis, actually!) and an important financial and cultural spot, definitely worth visiting during your trip in this amazing country! The city has a population of around 24 million people (!) and it’s the best place to see the rapid development of China. It’s the ideal spot if you love skyscrapers, but also want an authentic experience; if you love the vibrant nightlife, or want a chill vacation with your family.
Here is a map so you can see where is Shanghai located in the big country of China:
Where to stay in Shanghai is one of the most important decisions you have to make before your departure. But how can you choose, you might ask? No worries, in this post I’m going to explain about the 7 best neighborhoods in Shanghai, and I’m also giving you my best, hand-picked accommodation recommendations for each of them, broken down by budget.
NOTE: By the way, I’ve made an extensive research and, after lots of comparisons, I found the best prices for China to be on Hotels.com, rather than Booking or Agoda (for the same hotels, of course), so that’s what I’m mostly recommending in this article.
Are you ready? Let’s go!
- If you’re in a hurry…
- 1. People’s Square – Where to stay in Shanghai for the first time
- 2. The Bund – Where to stay in Shanghai for nightlife
- 3. Shanghai Old Town
- 4. Former French Concession
- 5. Xujiahui
- 6. Jing’an – Where to stay in Shanghai on a budget
- 7. Pudong – Where to stay in Shanghai with a family
- Best apartments in Central Shanghai, China
- Best hotels near Shanghai Pudong Airport
If you’re in a hurry…
The two best areas to stay in Shanghai for the first time are the areas surrounding The Bund and People’s Square. These two areas are super central and very close to each other, so if you stay as close as possible to either of these landmarks, you’ll make the best decision.
Which area should you choose?
There are 16 big Shanghai districts, which are then divided into neighborhoods, each of them with its own charm, advantages and disadvantages. Deciding on which area is the best for your trip is a HARD and overwhelming task, trust me, especially because the city is so big and full of important attractions! And this is true especially if you’re visiting the city for the first time, as there are only some neighborhoods fit for tourists.
But deciding on the perfect base for your trip is an important step. And I’m here to help! I have selected the 7 best areas in Shanghai for all types of tourists and I also made a quick list of my personalized recommendations for you:
- Where to stay in Shanghai for luxury: The Bund
- Best area for budget travelers: Jing’an
- Where to stay in Shanghai for an authentic atmosphere: Old Town Shanghai
- Where to stay in Shanghai for foodies: People’s Square
- Where to stay in Shanghai for nightlife: People’s Square & The Bund
- Best for families: Pudong
By the way, navigating the city is really easy, as Shanghai has an amazing public transport system! Anyway, now that you’re a bit more familiar to how the city is organized, let’s get into it:
1. People’s Square – Where to stay in Shanghai for the first time
If you want to be super central and super close to all the main attractions in the city, then this is the place for you!
I really think that the area surrounding People’s Square is the best place in Shanghai for first-time visitors (together with The Bund, which I’m going to talk about right below and which is near People’s Square as well). The People’s Square is basically a big square and it is considered to be the main central point of the city.
The area is very well-connected with the rest of the city (especially via subway) and it’s full of great shopping opportunities for all tastes, especially on Nanjing East Road, as well as countless restaurants and street food stalls – a heaven for foodies! Some of the landmarks that are also in this area include Shanghai Museum (right in the middle of the square), People’s Park, Shanghai Grand Theatre and more.
Without further ado, let’s see which are the best hotels in Shanghai in this area:
Luxury (US$100 and up)
- The Langham Hotel – In case you are wondering where to stay in Shanghai to splurge in complete luxury, this is your choice! This superb 5 star property is located super close to People’s Square and it offers all the amenities you might need, including a full-service spa and a pool!
- The Yangtze Boutique Shanghai – In case you want to be close to many shopping opportunities and restaurants, this is a great option! It’s located right in the heart of the district, close to the square and the park and extremely close to Nanjing Road. What more can you wish for? By the way, it’s not far away from the French Concession either!
Middle-priced (from US$50 – US$100)
- Atour Light Shanghai – Do you want to stay in Shanghai close to People’s Square but don’t want to spend a fortune on accommodation? Then I say that this cool middle-priced option is simply great! It offers 4-star service and it even has its own fitness centre, which is a nice advantage!
- Grand Central Hotel – Here’s another valuable option for your stay in Shanghai in case you fell in love with this district. This awesome place has a super convenient location, close to the park, Nanjing Road, and not far away from the Old Town either.
Budget (up to US$50)
- The Phoenix Hostel Shanghai-LaoShan – In case you want to be in the perfect neighborhood for a really good price, look no further than this one! If you choose to stay here, you’ll literally be minutes away from many shopping and entertainment options. A great save for your China travel!
- Campanile Shanghai – And here’s another fabulous budget option located very close to People’s Square. It comes at an incredible price and it has a dream location – close to the park, Shanghai Museum, and even The Bund and the French Concession.
2. The Bund – Where to stay in Shanghai for nightlife
The Bund (also known as Waitan) is a true symbol of Shanghai and one of its most well-known attractions!
The Bund is actually a beautiful waterfront area near Huangpu River where you can take a walk and enjoy panoramic views over the city. It’s made of superb colonial architecture, facing the modern skyscrapers of Pudong and I think it truly encompasses Shanghai’s charm.
Except for being a great base for first-timers in Shanghai, it’s also the perfect area to go if you’re a party animal who wants to enjoy some nightlife. You’ll also find tons of shops and restaurants and pubs here, so rest assured that you’ll never get bored!
Check out my best hotels recommendations located very close to The Bund:
Luxury (US$150 and up)
- Fairmont Peace Hotel On the Bund – Here’s one of THE best hotels in the entire Shanghai! Choose it if you want a spoiled, luxurious stay in Shanghai and you won’t regret it! It has a very convenient location as well, walking distance to the metro station and many shopping, dining and drinking places. So awesome!
- W Hotel – Shanghai The Bund – Do you want to stay in Shanghai in a place where you can admire a view of Huangpu River whenever you want? Then check out this option! Some of the advantages of staying here include access to their on-site outdoor pool, train station pick-up service, delicious breakfast and more!
- The Peninsula Hotel – Are you on the search for the best hotel in Shanghai? Well, you just found it! This one is one of the most gorgeous boutique hotels in Shanghai! I definitely recommend you check out the amenities here, they’re simply perfect! For example, you’ll have access to their fitness centre and you’ll be close to countless shopping and dining options. How great is that?
Middle-priced (US$70 to US$150)
- Metropolo Classiq Shanghai The Bund Circle – Are you wondering where to stay in Shanghai for a great value to money ratio? I have a solution, of course! This awesome place is right in The Bund area, very close to this attraction but also to the metro station, so you’ll be well-connected to the rest of the city. A great plus, if you ask me!
- Sofitel Shanghai Hyland – In case you want to stay in the city centre, close to endless shopping and food spots, then please find out that this gorgeous property has the ideal location for this. It’s in one of the most interesting areas of the city and it offers a great service!
Budget (up to US$70)
- Shanghai Fish Inn Bund – Do you want to stay in Shanghai in the most popular district, for a very convenient price? Here’s the perfect option for you! This accommodation offers excellent 3-star service, it’s colorful and the staff is super friendly. Plus, you have plenty of room types that you can choose from, for different types of budgets!
- Fish Inn Nanjing East Road – Here’s another great one on my list of cheap hotels in Shanghai in this neighborhood! This property is perfect if you’re interested in shopping and exploring the city, regardless if you’re planning to spend one day or one week here! By the way, this hotel is not very far away from the Former French Concession either.
3. Shanghai Old Town
If you’re looking for a more authentic experience in the middle of the metropole, then head over to Shanghai Old Town, you’ll be charmed!
The Old Town (called “Nanshi”) is actually the old city center before the 1900s and the place where you can see traditional houses, temples and teahouses, wall ruins, but some modern buildings as well (it’s always a mix when it comes to Shanghai!). Even though it’s not as authentic as it once was, it’s the closest area where you can get a taste of Shanghai’s roots.
Some of the most well-known attractions in this area include Yu Garden (also known as Yuyuan Garden), the City God Temple (also known as Cheng Huang Miao), Shanghai Old Street, the Ancient City Wall and more. And, of course, you can just walk around and enjoy the picturesque streets and buildings!
If you feel like Shanghai Old Town is your place to be, here are the best hotels where you can stay:
Luxury (US$120 and up)
- Renaissance Shanghai Yu Garden Hotel – If you’re looking for some of the best hotels, Shanghai is no short on amazing options! For example, this hotel is literally perfect for a luxurious stay in Shanghai, as you’ll have everything you need here, including proximity to the public transport system, such as a metro station!
- Shanghai Wonderoom Apartment Xintiandi – In case you want to stay close to Yuyuan Garden, this hotel must be your destination! It’s actually a gorgeous, comfortable apartment located super close to Xintiandi shopping area and to many interesting attractions in the city!
Middle-priced (US$70 – US$120)
- SSAW Boutique – In case you’re looking for a superb hotel in Shanghai located in the Old Town that comes with some affordable prices, search no more! This one has a great on-site restaurant and it’s very close to Yu Garden, right in the heart of this beautiful neighborhood!
- Mercure Shanghai Yu Garden – Here’s another great option in this district, where guests will be spoiled with free Wi-Fi, concierge service, 24-hour front desk, fitness centre, a yummy continental breakfast served each morning and many other awesome advantages!
Budget (up to US$70)
- Shanghai Loft – In case you’re wondering where to stay in Shanghai Old Town on a budget, here’s the perfect option! This property is located right in the centre of this unique area and it’s actually a whole house that you can share with your travel mates (up to 8 people, how great is that?)!
- Atour Hotel South Bund Shanghai – In case you want to be in a beautiful location, super close to the metro station and pay a very good price, then this hotel must be the perfect fit for you! It’s located on a street not far away from The Bund either, so it has the best of both worlds!
4. Former French Concession
The Former French Concession is, if you ask me, one of the coolest and up-and-coming places to stay in the entire Shanghai!
You may be wondering what’s up with this “French Concession” name, considering that we’re still in China, right? Well, the history of China is as rich as the country is wide, and the French Concession dates back to the middle of the 1800s, when the city was broken down into smaller areas conceded to the French government.
So this neighborhood used to be a French colonial area and it has a visible European architecture and feel but, as the case is for the unique city of Shanghai, you’ll see a mix of old and new. Needless to say, you’ll be surrounded by countless food and shopping options, cozy cafes and a relaxed atmosphere.
Some popular smaller areas inside the Former Concession are Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang, which I definitely recommend. While you’re in the area, make sure to visit Fuxing Park and the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre as well.
Convinced? Now let’s see which are the best accommodation options in this area:
Luxury (US$100 and up)
- InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin – Besides offering an amazing 5-star service to all the travellers that choose to stay here, the Intercontinental in Shanghai also has a very convenient location, very close to the metro station, street food places and shopping opportunities. All in all, a great choice!
- Pullman Shanghai Skyway – Here’s another excellent 5-star hotel that has its address right in the heart of the French Concession area. So if you want to be located as central as possible and to enjoy all of the awesome attractions around, while being spoiled back at your accommodation, then this is your choice!
Middle-priced (from US$50 – US$100)
- Sunshine Garden – I present to you this awesome middle-priced hotel in Shanghai that offers an excellent service for some very good prices. It’s located on a street close to a Shanghai shopping center and I definitely recommend you check it out if you want a cozy, homey accommodation!
- Mason Hotel – Here’s another awesome choice for accommodation in the Old French Concession area! This one’s located in Xintiandi and it’s the perfect base if you want to explore the rest of the city.
Budget (up to US$50)
- Ruijin Garden Apartment – In case you want to stay on a budget in this awesome district, check out this place! This is a beautiful, super spacious apartment that offers views of the city, free Wi-Fi and a cozy shared lounge, among others. A perfect choice, if you ask me!
- Yu Jian. Tian Zi Fang No.12 – Last but not least, here’s another great budget stay in Shanghai in the Old French Concession area. This cute homestay is small but very comfortable and clean, just perfect for a good night’s sleep after a full day of exploring Shanghai!
Continuing a bit to the West, we’ll get to Xijuahui, which is basically an “extension” of the French Concession neighborhood.
Xujiahui is very central; it’s actually one of the main cores of the city (some people even call it Shanghai Downtown) and a great place to stay during your trip to Shanghai! By the way, Xujiahui is part of a bigger district called Xuhui.
It’s also a shopping paradise, perfect for anyone that wants to go searching for souvenirs or electronics, for example, as it’s full of malls (Metro City is just an example). Some unmissable things to see here are Xujiahui Park, Shanghai Stadium, Hongqiao Road, Shanghai Film Museum and more. In case you want to visit more sites, no worries, as this area is very well-connected to the rest of the city!
Let’s see which are the best hotels in this neighborhood located in Central Shanghai:
Luxury (US$130 and up)
- Courtyard by Marriott Shanghai Xujiahui – If you are searching for a luxurious, fabulous hotel located in Xujiahui, then you definitely have to check out this place! It offers a 4-star service and some of the best things about this accommodation include the 2 bars, the on-site restaurant, the indoor pool, fitness center and more!
- Seclusive Life Aristo Mansion – Here’s another awesome option if you want to stay right in the city centre, but also close to Hongqiao Road. This awesome property is located on a beautiful street, close to a nice park, and some of the amenities that you’ll enjoy include a restaurant, free Wi-Fi, 24-hour front desk and more!
Middle-priced (US$70 – US$130)
- JOYA Shanghai Xujiahui Hotel – Here’s a great option in Central Shanghai, very close to Hongqiao Road and all the important attractions of the city! This one has a very good value to money ratio and it’s ideal for people who want to stay in a hotel that’s connected to a shopping center – how awesome is that?
- Hengshan Picardie Hotel – In case you didn’t make up your mind just yet, here’s another great choice located in the center of Xujiahui neighbourhood that you’ll definitely enjoy! This one has daily breakfast available, an airport shuttle that you can use, an on-site restaurant and bar and more!
Budget (up to US$70)
- JinJiang Metropolo Hua Ting Guest House – In case you are searching for a beautiful, clean and cozy budget stay in this neighborhood, this is definitely one of my recommended properties! It’s close to the park, to the stadium and to Metro City as well and it offers a great service for little money. So great!
- Regal Shanghai East Asia Hotel – Here’s another budget option located in the city centre, very close to Hongqiao Road. This one actually has 3 on-site restaurants and an indoor pool as well – can you believe it?!
6. Jing’an – Where to stay in Shanghai on a budget
If your budget is a bit tight but you still want to stay in a cool, easily accessible area, search no further than Jing’an!
This area revolves around Jing’an Temple, a beautiful Buddhist temple, and it’s a really cool neighborhood where you’ll be close to the main spots of interest in the city. Except for the already-mentioned temple, some other well-known attractions here include Natural History Museum, the Kerry Center and Jing’an Sculpture Park, for example.
It’s also a neighborhood where expats usually make their base, so it has a very unique feel. If you choose to stay here, no worries, you’ll always have a cool place nearby where you can eat, drink a coffee or shop!
If you think this is the right area for you, here are my hand-picked hotels that you can choose from:
Luxury (US$110 and up)
- The Puli Hotel And Spa – In case you’re looking for complete luxury and relaxation during your stay in the city, then check out this recommended option! It’s very close to the city centre, so you don’t need to worry about missing an important landmark, and it’s decorated with great taste, offering a relaxed, zen atmosphere. Plus, it has an on-site spa!
- Hotel Indigo Shanghai Jing’An – If you’re looking for a place close to Jing’An Buddhist Temple, then search no more! This luxury hotel has an on-site restaurant, a fitness center that you can use, spa services, a conference room and many other great facilities!
Middle-priced (US$40 – US$110)
- Wonderland French Concession – Jingan – Here’s a perfect property if you want to be close to Jing’an Temple and enjoy all the best things that this beautiful neighborhood has to offer. This is actually a super comfortable apartment where you can relax and unwind and it awaits with free Wi-Fi and air conditioning, among others!
- Swissotel Grand Shanghai – This hotel offers an awesome service and quality for a smaller price than luxury hotels, for example! Do I need to talk about the location as well? It’s super close to the Natural History Museum and Jing’an Temple, for example – so great!
Budget (up to US$40)
- Meego Yes Hotel – If you’re looking for a beautiful and cozy budget place near Jing’an Temple and well-connected to the city centre, find out that you just found it! This property offers small but clean rooms where you can rest and room service as well, in case you’re too lazy to use the shared kitchen, for example!
- Campanile Shanghai Jing An Hotel – Last but not least, here’s my second budget recommendation near Jing’an Temple. This accommodation has a beautiful, modern decor that I simply love! Plus, it has 3 meeting rooms, its own winery (!), a restaurant, a bar and much more to offer!
7. Pudong – Where to stay in Shanghai with a family
I think you remember that I mentioned Pudong when I talked about The Bund earlier. It’s a place full of giant skyscrapers that light up during the night and make you feel as tiny as an ant. The skyline is simply unforgettable!
Pudong is basically the new and modernized “face” of Shanghai!
Some of the landmarks of this area include Shanghai Tower (tallest building in Shanghai!), Jin Mao Tower, Oriental Pearl Tower (yep, many towers!) and last but not least, Disneyland! This is one of the main reasons why I think this area is great for people traveling with kids.
NOTE: Pudong is a pretty huge area that stretches from Huangpu river all the way to the airport, but the best parts of it are actually Lujiazui and Tangqiao and what surrounds them. In short, try to stay as close to Huangpu river as possible.
Enough talking, let’s see which are the best hotels in this area as well:
Luxury (US$120 and up)
- Kerry Hotel Shanghai Pudong – This hotel offers a luxurious service to all travelers that choose to book a room here. Trust me, if you want to be close to Shanghai Tower (or any of the 4 towers and other skyscrapers in the area), this is your place to be! It’s actually located in Lujiazui, close to the river, so you’ll have a beautiful view of The Bund as well!
- JW Marriott Marquis Shanghai Pudong Hotel – You may already know that staying in a Marriott hotel means you get an excellent treatment each and every time and this property in Lujiazui is no exception! It has a great view of The Bund and you’ll also have access to their on-site spa and 5 restaurants, for example!
Middle-priced (US$70 – US$120)
- The Eton Hotel – Here’s one of my best recommended middle-priced hotels in this area – and it’s a choice you won’t regret, trust me! This one’s located on a calm pedestrian street and you’ll have a great view of the city if you choose to stay here. It’s a great base for Pudong!
- Four Points by Sheraton Shanghai, Pudong – If you want to stay in Pudong, close to Huangpu River, then make sure to book a room here, it’s an excellent accommodation! It offers 4-star service and 2 restaurants, which I think it’s simply great. Plus, it’s well-connected to the airport as well – a nice bonus!
Budget (up to US$70)
- Shanghai Haodu Grand Hotel Laoshan – If you want a budget accommodation in one of the coolest areas in Shanghai, then check out this property! It’s located very close to Jin Mao Tower and it offers all the amenities you may need for a pleasant stay!
- Novotel Shanghai Atlantis – Here’s another great choice located on a cool pedestrian street. It has an indoor pool, an awesome location, 4 restaurants and a bar/lounge. By the way, this one is an excellent option for families as well!
Best apartments in Central Shanghai, China
If you’re the type of traveler that likes some comfort, I get you and I have a proposal for you: maybe staying in an apartment would be the best idea for you! An apartment is an ideal choice for people who are traveling in a larger group (families, for example), or for people who want to stay in the best areas for less money than hotels.
Luckily for you, there are plenty of amazing Shanghai apartments on Airbnb that you can choose from – and most of them are quite affordable!
NOTE: I know, most of the names and descriptions of these apartments were posted in Chinese, you can translate the page to find out the details and make sure to read the reviews too, you’ll quickly understand why they’re some of the best recommendations! 😉
Here are my top choices (by the way, all of them are very central, close the The Bund and People’s Square):
Luxury (US$100 and up)
- 外滩|南京东路附近轻奢一居梦想改造家作品 – This gorgeous, marbled apartment is located super close to People’s Square, in one of the best and most central areas of the city! It’s perfect for a couple or two guests that want to enjoy a luxurious property!
- 【1928】网红复古外滩顶层景观四人房 – Here’s another great choice for a luxury experience in Shanghai. This apartment has a beautiful decor and fabulous reviews from past travelers. Plus, the location is awesome, super close to The Bund!
Middle-priced (US$50 – US$100)
- 【1928】网红浴缸外滩全景景观房 – Here’s a super clean and cute apartment that offers everything you may need for a pleasant middle-priced experience – a kitchen, a dryer, free Wi-Fi and more. Plus, it’s spacious enough for two people!
- 若人生只如初见-复古破旧|保留历史原顶|紧邻 – This apartment is another great choice close to People’s Square and The Bund. It’s cute, cozy and super clean and it comes with some very good prices that will help you save some money that you can spend on visiting some cool attractions!
Budget (up to US$50)
- 靠近我-复古清新|外滩|南京东路步行街|城隍庙|300 – Even though this gorgeous apartment might be small, it’s very cozy and nicely decorated and it’s great for two people that want to save some pennies. By the way, the owner is a superhost so you can expect a perfect experience!
- 近地铁站/人民广场/外滩/北欧风一居室 – Here’s another great budget apartment in the heart of the city! This one is tiny but very clean and bright, so I recommend it to people that just want to enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep and then head out exploring the city!
Best hotels near Shanghai Pudong Airport
In case you’re traveling to the city for business or if you have a super early/late flight, a very wise choice might be to book a hotel located as close to Shanghai Airport as possible.
Shanghai actually has no less than 4 airports (I told you the city is huge!), but the most popular one and most probably the place where you’ll also land/depart from if you have an international flight is called Shanghai Pudong Airport.
Below I have selected the 3 best hotels near Shanghai Airport (one for each type of budget):
- Primus Hotel Sanjiagang – Here’s my recommendation for people who are looking for a luxury place near the airport. This one offers 5-star service and it awaits with a cool indoor pool, a conference center and free airport drop-off!
- Moonlo Hotel – In case you’re looking for a middle-priced place instead, this one’s for you! It awaits with daily breakfast, concierge services and free Wi-Fi, among others. It’s also great for families, as it awaits with a free children’s club – such a nice bonus!
- Shanghai Deco Hotel (Pudong Airport/Disney/Free Trade Zone) – And if you’re on a budget, no worries, I have an excellent choice for you as well! This property is nearby the airport and not far away from Disneyland either, which is a great advantage!
Phew! Congrats, you have reached the end of my ultimate guide on accommodation for your Shanghai travel trip! I bet you’re already an expert now, am I right?
In this post I have talked about the 7 best Shanghai neighborhoods and for each of them I have given hand-picked hotel recommendations, all with fabulous reviews and amazing facilities. I also shared with you my list with the best apartments and airport hotels in the city. So, in short, what more can you wish for?! It’s all here!
I hope you found this article useful and I’m sure you already found the perfect accommodation for your stay in the post above. By the way, if you have further questions, do not hesitate to write them below and I’ll try to help!
Are you heading to Shanghai soon? Let me know!
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