"When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it's a sure sign you're getting old." -Mark Twain
Shanghai is no exception to the growth of the luxury retail market: one can find every major luxury brand in multiple locations within the city. While one cannot avoid being run over by mall-like environments, the cosmopolitan hub of Shanghai is a reflection of the invasion of luxury retailers.
One must be familiar with an optional mall to escape to while in Shanghai. My choice is a well kept, renovated, and converted architectural landmark, Xintiandi, which translates as "New Heaven and Earth." This area is one of the main attractions in Shanghai, full of art galleries, cafes, and restaurants. Designed by Wood + Zapata and Nikken Sekkei International, the project was considered one of the pioneering examples in China as an urban renewal development.
Through its main pedestrian passage, one can find many friendly places to refuel and pick up travel souvenirs. Small alleyways are intimate and surprising elements away from the main drag, and here one can find fanciful establishments to dine and lounge, and be surrounded by sophisticated interior décor.
There are few renewed developments in Shanghai. Most of the constructions are new builds, but Xintiandi offers a romantic place that captures many of the restored colonial architecture details--quite refreshing after the blaring waves of new developments.
Xintiandi is an easy place to find. Almost all locals know where and what it is. And if you don't feel like practicing your Mandarin, it is near South Huangpi Road and Fuxing Road, south west of the Bund area.