Dark towers: Piero Lissoni delivers a broodingly handsome hangout with The Middle House in Shanghai

Dark towers: Piero Lissoni delivers a broodingly handsome hangout with The Middle House in Shanghai

With great stealth and style, the Hong Kong-based Swire Hotels has been expanding its House Collective brand through Asia. The latest, The Middle House, has just opened in Shanghai, a seductive addition to the family, and the fourth, in fact, despite its moniker. 

For road warriors and leisure trippers alike, the hotel’s location in the RMB 17 billion mixed-use development, HKRI Taikoo Hui, is flawless. The immediate neighbourhood, Dazhongli, holds some of the city’s last remaining historic shikumen, or lanehouses, around which rears up the towering skyscrapers of the Jing’an financial district. 

Divided between two 14-storey towers clad in a striated façade of rounded aluminium louvres are 111 rooms and 102 serviced apartments whose interiors have been dressed by Piero Lissoni. Channeling his customary love for muted hues and streamlined silhouettes, the Milan-based architect and designer has conceived a handsome modern space that artfully incorporates local Shanghainese design elements. 

In particular, the bedrooms – starting at a sizeable 50sqm and expanding to a palatial 660sqm for the penthouse – are sheathed in an Asia-lite palette of bronze mesh, slender pendant lights, hand-made ceramic tiles, silk panels, wall-to-wall benches, and low-slung furniture that seem to float off the dark-stained floors. In less assured hands, the result might easily have descended into cliché, but Lissoni ably unifies the disparate pieces into a masculine whole that quietly telegraphs its location without ever detracting from Shanghai’s Blade Runner-like landscape that unfurls through the floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Just as gratifying is the Lab Mixun Spa, a sprawling pleasure dome that includes among the usual suspects of yoga studio, gym, juice bar and a HYPOXI room. For less strenuous recreation, there’s something to be said for a few leisurely laps in the indoor heated pool whilst sipping cold pressed juices ordered from the adjoining juice bar. 

Gray Kunz, meanwhile, continues his long association with the House brand by lending his name to the hotel’s anchor attraction, Café Gray Deluxe, whilst two other equally soigné restaurants – all three also designed by Lissoni – serve up Cantonese and Italian fare, the latter served up, in good weather, in the adjoining garden terrace.