黃潔玲 described in yesterday’s Ming Pao Shanghai’s Puli Hotel as 低調奢華 – understated luxury – what a phrase. We have finally gone beyond the gimmicks and the flashy Philippe Stark era (thank God), beyond the minimalism and the opulent, or the dramas of Park Hyatts to something closer to home. 黃潔玲 described the Puli further in such terms:
窗外的世界很繁華， 室內倒總是安安靜靜， 自個兒活在resort的調子。平淡是福，尤其人家在忙，你在無所事事，這種閒情逸致，說穿了就是奢侈。
The world outside is glamourous, while the one inside is quaint and quiet; it indulges itself in a resort-like rhythm. Simplicity is bliss. This kind of peaceful comfort - especially when others are busy and you alone are procrastinating - in the end, is simply luxury in its own right.
I cannot agree with her more. The Puli, which opened in September last year, is my favourite hotel in recent years for that specific reason. This is a hotel which has all the qualities of a star yet does not like to show off. Even the entrance to the hotel was hidden from the main street. To enter, you have to endure the grumbles of the local taxi driver – 這是甚麼鬼地方啊？！(What kind of shithole is this?) - and past a bamboo barricade before you reach the hotel lobby.
When you enter, it becomes a whole different story. 中國式隱喻 (Chinese metaphor) is what 黃潔玲 called it. Indeed, the Puli is like an ancient Chinese poet reborn in style. He wears the pared-down Prada mandarin collar suit in traditional Chinese silk, dines at Jean George yet holds a copy of 史湘雲 (a book about one of the main characters in “Dream of the Red Chamber”) in his hands. Indeed, at the Puli, you will find books such as these lying around the library alongside coffee table books about the works of Zaha Hadid, while antique Chinese cabinets lay alongside contemporary Chinese paintings. The traditional reception area is given an interesting makeover as a reception “bar” – an elongated teakwood bench and lowered floors on the other side of the reception table, all the way across the entire length of the lobby until it reaches the back where it becomes a real bar. Even the black marble flooring was apparently measured and designed in meticulous detail by the consultant who works on the Palace Museum in Beijing.
Inside the rooms, a Chinese style fish-scale-patterned screen divides the entrance from rest of the room, while the bathroom is open but could be fenced off using a sliding glass door inlayed with a cream-coloured Chinese silk. For tabletops, marble is swapped for a black Chinese inkstone which gives it an unusual matt finish – all convincing me more and more that this is someone who does not like to be in the spotlight, but prefers to remain in the shadows of his more extravagant competitors.
It is this character of his that had me hooked. And with free wifi, complimentary minibar (YES, complimentary as in “free of charge”), a restaurant headed by Dane Clouston (formerly of critically acclaimed Opia in Hong Kong) and a bill that comes up to merely RMB2880 for three nights, what more can you ask for?
璞麗璞麗, 樸實而華麗, 人如其名啊！
Puli puli, plain but elegant, what a befitting name!