Away from the standardised branding and aesthetics of big international chains, it’s refreshing to come across Thai brand Sukhothai, which is taking things a little bit freely. At the original Bangkok outpost – which opened 27 years ago – six acres of sprawling landscaped gardens hide lotus ponds in courtyards, small pagodas and guestrooms outfitted with dark, polished teak interiors and four-poster beds. In Shanghai, the scene couldn’t be any more different. Located on the edge of the recently opened mixed-use HKRI Taikoo Hui complex, the brand’s second opening is unapologetically modern and minimalist – all clean lines, terrazzo, pale wood and brass accents.

But while the aesthetics differ starkly, the ethos of the two properties both reflect the character of their home city while providing a retreat to getaway from it all. ‘From the very beginning, it was important for us to bring a sense of serenity, an oasis or an urban retreat in a busy city,’ say the designers of the Shanghai property, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu of Neri & Hu Design and Research Office. ‘It was important to play on this scale and instead of grandness, we decided to focus on creating spaces that are convivial and intimate.’ It’s an admirable aim in the chaos that is Shanghai, and one achieved flawlessly by the architect duo.

And while the views from the hotel aren’t particularly noteworthy, what it lacks on the outside is more than made up for on the inside where the 201 rooms exude a homey residential warmth with textured clay walls (coloured pale pink, green and cream for ‘freshness and depth’), pale wood floors, and a mix of sleek furnishings- either from Neri & Hu’s own collection or from brands such as Hay, Poltrona Frau, Ingo Maurer and Flos. Plump for the Premier Room where an open-plan bathroom and a central bed create a spacious feel.

Details are equally as paramount at the hotel’s five restaurants and bars. Elegantly outfitted with an open kitchen dressed in blue-green, hand-glazed ceramic tiles, La Scala by chef Theodor Falser, offers contemporary farm-to-table Italian fare, like octopus salad and pesto-marinated pork neck, executed by chef Stefano Sanna.  Vincenzo Pagliara, formerly of The Connaught in London, is behind the cocktail programme at The ZUK Bar, whose outdoor terrace casually spills out towards the street.