Essential Architecture- The Bund, Shanghai

Palace Hotel

presently The Peace Hotel (south wing), formerly the Central Hotel, then the Palace Hotel.




No. 19, The Bund, Shanghai, China




Renaissance Revival


steel frame


  The Palace Hotel, built by the British on the Bund in 1906, had a legendary roof garden, destroyed in 1914. The hotel was the site of devastation in 1937 when Chinese Nationalist planes dropped bombs on the Bund meant for the Japanese flagship in the harbor. It is now part of the nearby Peace Hotel, formerly the Cathay.
  Shown in context with the north wing of the Peace Hotel (formerly Cathay Hotel / Sassoon House).
  Above image ©Paul Pak-hing Lee - 1997

  This rare postcard from the 1920s shows the Palace but not the Cathay Hotel, which was built in 1928.
The Edwardian oddity at center is the Concordia, or German Club. In the foreground is a stature of Robert Hart, an Irishman known for his diplomatic, linguistic and mangerial skills. Hart was Inspector General of China's Imperial Maritime Custom Service from 1863 to 1907. In the distance can be seen the statue of Harry Smith Parkes, mentioned at top. The German Club was torn down in 1934 to make way for the Bank of China building.
The Peace Hotel (Chinese: 和平饭店) is a world famous hotel on The Bund in Shanghai, China in the former International Settlement and overlooking the Huangpu River. The hotel today comprises two buildings. The North Building is Sassoon House, which housed the former Cathay Hotel. The South Building is the former Palace Hotel. The two buildings both face the Bund, but are divided by the famous Nanjing Road, arguably the busiest street in Shanghai. It was announced on April 16th, that the hotel will soon be closing, going through a complete renovation and reopening in 2009 as the pre-eminent luxury hotel in Shanghai as the Fairmont Peace Hotel Shanghai.

South Building
Separated from the North Building by busy Nanjing Road, the South Building was built as the Palace Building, formerly known as Central Hotel. Central Hotel was founded in the 1850s. In 1903, the hotel was restructured to form Palace Hotel. At the same time, the building was rebuilt as a six storey building, the tallest building on Nanjing Road at the time. In 1909, the first meeting of the World Anti-Narcotics League was held here. In 1911, after the success of the Xinhai Revolution, Sun Yat-sen stayed at the hotel and advocated commitment to the revolutionary cause.

The present building was completed in 1908. It occupies 2125 square metres, with a floor space of 11607 metres. It has a brick veneer structure, with six storeys reaching 30 metres in height. The exterior adopts a Renaissance style. The hotel has around 120 guest rooms. It also featured two elevators, the first building to do so in Shanghai. During World War II, the building was occupied by the Japanese army. In 1947 it was purchased by a Chinese company. After the revolution in 1949 it continued trading until 1952, when it was confiscated and used by the Municipal Construction Department. In 1965 it resumed trading as a hotel as a part of the Peace Hotel. The South Building, across the street, is the former Palace Hotel, built in 1906. After the founding of the People's Republic it was closed, and reopened in 1965 as a wing of the Peace Hotel.

In 2004, it was featured as the 10th pit-stop in The Amazing Race 6, a very popular reality TV show.