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Tranquil haven in shadow of Xintiandi
By Chehui Peh

Just a stone's throw from one of the most popular hangouts in the city, Taicang Road is filled with trendy stores that are representative of the international nature of Shanghai. With businesses ranging from watchmakers to cafes, bistros and spas, you can browse in stores, take a massage, enjoy a coffee, relax and watch the busy afternoon unfold around them. Just turn right at Xintiandi, and find yourself in a tranquil wonderland with everything you may need.


Established in 1817, Milanese cafe Cova has had almost two centuries to perfect its recipes and achieve its status as one of the best artisan cafes around. Espressos and cappuccinos are freshly ground, and made by expert baristas highly trained in bringing the best quality. All of which is no surprise for a cafe from coffee-loving Italy. However, Cova is most famous for its desserts, and has also expanded its range to include a number of main dishes as well. The set lunch is 168 yuan (US$26.4), and includes a soup, seasonal seafood pasta, dessert and a drink. Most recommended is the dessert buffet, and for 268 yuan you may find yourself in a sweet chocolate or pastry heaven.

Opening hours: 10am-10pm

Address: 01A, No. 17, Lane 181, Taicang Rd

Tel: 3376-3810


A casual Sino-French bistro, HaiPai aims to create an ambience of a friendly neighborhood eatery, offering French and Chinese comfort food. With open kitchens and floor to ceiling windows, the bistro is bright and lively, and the action in the kitchen is open for all to see. Depending on what you prefer, the different menus try to give you the best of both worlds, and their specialties include xiaolongbao (Shanghainese braised pork flanks) duck confit and coq au vin. There is also a Sunday brunch menu available, from 288 yuan (US$45.3) per person, or from 588 yuan with free flow champagne. Its weekday set menu from 98 yuan with four courses is one of its most popular options. With its choice of French or Chinese cuisine, HaiPai is a good option for locals and expats who want to sample something a little - but not too - different.


Green Massage

Green Massage on Taicang Road is one of the oldest establishments on the road. Since opening in 2001, it has earned a loyal following for its spiritual, restful ambience and quality service. Techniques are inherited from ancient therapies of Chinese medicine to create unique Green signature techniques applied to traditional Chinese massage, moxibustion care and Chinese foot reflexology. Other popular treatments include aromatherapy and hot stones massage. Gentle, skillful massage techniques are combined with aromatherapy oils to promote a healthy metabolism. Green Massage staff say their techniques promote mind and body in natural balance. It is currently offering summer packages: Crystal Brilliant Luminance facial at 698 yuan/US$109.9 (original price: 980 yuan) and Caviar Timeless Miracle facial at 798 yuan (original price: 1,180 yuan), designed to restore brightness and improve skin elasticity.

Opening hours: 10:30am-2am

Address: 58 Taicang Rd

Tel: 5386-0222


Casa Serene Spa & Hotel

The Xintiandi area features some of the best hotels in town but if you are looking for a unique, tranquil place to stay, you might want to consider Casa Serene Spa & Hotel. Green Spa Management & Consultancy group took over the previous Casa Serena Hotel this year and following extensive renovation reopened the business recently, providing an urban respite from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.

As you enter the courtyard, you are transported to an exotic space fusing eastern European and Shanghai Art Deco styles. The Spanish restaurant located on the first floor, enticing you to sit down and enjoy authentic Spanish food and wine. The boutique hotel boasts 18 rooms (including three spa rooms) on the second and third floor of the building. The moment you set foot on the second floor, your imagination can run riot in the old Shanghainese ambience. The long corridor with flickering aroma candles, walkway lamps and rooms furnished with Art Deco styles all evoke this period and its mysteries.

Each room layout is unique with works of art, antique furniture and other vintage items including everything from wallpaper to the carpet. The international team of designers focused on blending old and modern. Guests are assured of privacy and personalized service which may not be found in bigger luxury hotels. During a promotion period this month, the deluxe room rate is 999 yuan (US$157.2), including a free aromatic head massage.

Address: 68 Taicang Rd

Tel: 5382-1600


Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164