Subterranean InterContinental Opens in China

InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland

The first five-star underground hotel features two floors of underwater rooms, a swimming pool and multiple restaurants

Experience-seekers, this one’s for you: You can now stay in the world’s first five-star underground hotel. An epic project a decade in the making, the subterranean InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland, which has been constructed in an abandoned quarry, has opened its doors to guests, just outside of Shanghai. The hotel features 16 storeys of rooms and facilities that overlook a 33-foot-deep aquarium, and for those who are game, another two storeys that are completely underwater. It gives a whole new, positive meaning to ‘sleeping with the fishes’, doesn’t it?

With a leisure complex and swimming pool, multiple restaurants and a sports centre cantilevered over the quarry for extreme activities such as rock climbing and bungee jumping – as you do – this is clearly a hotel that is all sorts of quirky. But the new InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland is also set to be one of the most eco-friendly places to stay in China, according to Atlas Obscura. Located at Sheshan Mountain Range in the town of Songjiang, about 35 kilometres from Shanghai, you don’t have to venture way off the beaten track to get to this architectural marvel. The 61,000-square-meter resort is in close proximity to Sheshan National Forest Park and Chenshan Botanic Gardens, and makes an ideal base for eco-conscious travellers who will revel in the location’s natural beauty – we’re talking rocky cliffs, waterfalls, and surrounding hills.

The resort’s architectural plan was designed to reduce impact on the environment by keeping the majority of construction within the disused pit and incorporating the quarry’s rock face. With the hotel’s roof at ground level, it is covered in grass and trees creating the ultimate ‘roof garden’ respite, and ensuring the man-made building structure blends in seamlessly with its natural surroundings, not disturbing the environment’s exotic flora and fauna. In addition, the resort features an extensive sustainability program, and generates its own geothermal and solar energy to power everyday functions.

Every room in the 336-room address — aside from those underwater — features a balcony with panoramic views of Shenkeng Quarry and the purpose-built waterfalls spilling down its walls.

Not surprising for a subterranean hotel, the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland has taken 5,000 architects, engineers, designers, and workers 10 years to build and has cost over US$500 million. It was designed by the same British firm that designed the iconic Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai, and in 2009 it was shortlisted for an award at the World Architecture Festival.

Feel like you need some grounding? Time to go back to your roots? Seeking an earthy escape? We could go on… but puns aside, we think this hotel is more than worthy of a spot on your hotel bucket list.

What is the quirkiest hotel you’ve ever stayed at? Have your say in the comments below!

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