15 Things About The World's First Underground Hotel (And 10 Pics To Show It Off)

Because hotels are built on the ground, there’s only so many ways that can be done to make them stand out from each other. Such methods range from placing a hotel at a certain location that’s convenient as well as geographically pleasing to making it physically attractive in terms of design. Of course, this all depends on what kind of hotel it is. For instance, the cheap motels and hostels may not be architecturally stunning but this is made up for in their convenient placement to bus routes as well as other stores in the vicinity.

On the other hand, fancy hotels will go the extra mile and try to make their place visually appealing with multiple services available to prevent people from leaving the hotel as much as possible. Hence, the fancier hotels tend to be placed in more isolated areas that are close to major cities as opposed to the cheaper ones. Then some hotels like the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland in China do something that’s truly ambitious: reside below ground level. Now there have been hotels with subterranean levels before, but this one is claiming to be the world’s first true underground hotel. Now open to the public as of November of last year, let’s take a look at all the features it has to offer!

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25 It is very Close to Shanghai


Before a hotel is built, it’s important to consider where the guests are going to come from. Whether they’re rich or poor, there must be some semblance of convenience in terms of the hotel’s location. Even if they’re traveling somewhere, they might want to stay somewhere that’s close to their destination than not. Even Shanghai Wonderland considered this, as it's located “About 20 miles southwest of Shanghai” according to Geek.com. So that way, guests who are staying at the hotel can make trips to Shanghai when they want and people from Shanghai can get to the hotel more easily.

24 Minimum Room Price is About 576 Dollars


So given all the features that Shanghai Wonderland has to offer, who wouldn’t want to go there? Unfortunately, there’s currently not a fixed price on the hotel rooms. For instance, according to Geek.com, “Rooms start from 4,000 Chinese yuan (around $576) on some online booking sites”. Now given that most hotel rooms range from 100 to 300 dollars a night, that’s pretty hefty. Though part of this might have to do with InterContinental, the company that manages the hotel according to the China Daily as they’re known for managing some very fancy hotels like the InterContinental Davos in Switzerland.

23 It was finished in November


While it is officially called the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland hotel, it’s known by several other names such as: the Tianma Pit Hotel, Shimao Quarry Hotel, Songjiang Shimao Hotel, and the Pit Pegasus Hotel. Now judging by the simplicity of some of these names, one can deduce that they were probably placeholders or temporary labels during the hotel’s construction. It also has to do with the fact that the hotel is located in an actual district of Shanghai’s called Songjiang, and was partially developed by the Shanghai Shimao Group. But regardless of who built it, it’s still a nice-looking building.

22 It's Hard to Believe This Was Once a Quarry


As seen from this angle, it’s pretty clear a lot of time and effort went into making this hotel a reality. This is especially impressive when one has to consider that the whole area in the above picture was once nothing but an empty quarry with rocky walls and a barren dirt floor with maybe some puddles of rainwater here and there. Compare that with now, where there’s a large building sticking along the side of a lake that’s accented by trees growing along the sides and top of the quarry. It’s like a hidden paradise that just got discovered.

21 “Shanghai luxury hotel opens” - Look at All Those Lights


While it’s unclear from this picture if it’s nighttime or dusk at the very least, that doesn’t take away the prettiness of the lights coming from the hotel itself. This is not only due to the lights themselves, but also the shapes which they occupy. For instance, the way the yellow lights along the sides of the hotel contrasts the blue shadows gives the whole thing a blurry but ripple effect. Then at the very bottom, there’s the multiple lights occupying the concentric circles within the walkway that separates the hotel fountains from the lake which makes it stand out.

20 “Hotel in Shanghai” - So Many Floors


As indicated by the bareness of the building and the scaffolds to the right, it’s clear this picture was taken from earlier in the hotel’s construction. With that said, it doesn’t make the sheer tallness of the hotel any less impressive especially when comparing it to the wall of the quarry. Even the hotel’s unique design in terms of its architecture is shining through in this image compared to the completed version of it in the previous image. It makes one appreciate the amount of work that was put into the hotel, since multiple hands were involved in its development.

19 “In Images” - Walkway Made of Glass


In addition to having attractions which involve bungee-jumping as well as rock-climbing along the quarry walls, there’s a walkway available. Made from glass, as the above picture shows, it was presumably built to allow easy access between the top and bottom parts of the quarry where the hotel is situated in while being leisurely in its aesthetic. Otherwise, one would have to get to the top floor of the hotel to get out of the quarry and it’s unclear whether that part is accessible or not due to the greenery that’s there for eco-friendly energy control purposes.

18 “Songjiang” - Nice View


Judging by this picture alone, it’s obvious that this is one of those hotel rooms mentioned earlier that has a balcony. Though the unrealistic clearness of the mirror makes it seem like we are looking at a strange opening between the bathroom and bedroom areas of the room with no separation between them and not a reflection at all. Even the reflection in the mirror adjacent to the one in front of us seems unnaturally clear. Still, it gives us an idea of what a typical room in the Shanghai Wonderland is going to look like for the potential guest.

17 “Architecture” - Beneath the Water


Now here, we see a room in the Shanghai Wonderland that is indeed submerged in the aforementioned aquarium given the entire room’s window is covered in water with various fish swimming around. Now considering the lack of furniture and horizontal width, it’s clear this is not a hotel room. But even if it is a room, its enormous size would imply it’s either a suite or a place where meetings are held. In either case, it looks nice even though the giant teddy seems tacky compared to the stuffed whale next to it and the ripply black wall behind them.

16 Developed by the Same Company that Built the Burj Al Arab


Though Shanghai Wonderland is located in China, it was developed by a British company called Atkins. Even if the name doesn’t sound familiar, many of their architectural projects are pretty famous. For instance, they were “The same developers behind the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai” Geek.com states. As the above picture shows, the Burj Al Arab is shaped like a sail in terms of its design and it was built on an island that was artificially made. So with that kind of ambition, it would only seem natural that Atkins would attempt to develop something like Shanghai Wonderland.

15 Built Near a Quarry That Was deserted


Now in terms of creating a subterranean hotel, one would assume that extensive digging would be required to create a deep enough area to build it in. However, this level of work is pretty costly in general due to the large amount of time workers and equipment needed to perform the job. Now Shanghai Wonderland was able to forego this process to an extent by being “Built into the side of a formerly abandoned quarry” Geek.com says. Though it’s unclear why the quarry was abandoned in the first place, it provided a convenient hole to place the hotel in.

14 It took 10 years to build


Depending on how tall they are where they’re made and what features they include, most hotels will take 2-3 years to be built. But in the case of Shanghai Wonderland, it “Took 10 years to complete” according to Geek.com. The reason it took so long was not just because it’s a fancy hotel, but mainly because nothing like it had ever been built before. Following its initial planning in 2006, “5,000 architects, engineers, designers and workers” were hired to work on it according to the China Daily. Plus, several innovations in engineering had to happen along the way.

13 It Cost Over 150 Million Dollars to Build


So because there were no hotels to serve as a model for the Shanghai Wonderland, Atkins and the Shanghai Shimao Group (who co-designed the hotel) faced a lot of issues during the hotel’s decade-long development. For instance, they had to solve “The problem of pumping concrete downward by 77 meters without blockages, or separation of sand and cement” according to the China Daily. While they were able to solve it, the amount of manpower and labor that went into the hotel as a whole cost the two companies approximately over “1 billion yuan ($151 million)” China Daily says.

12 It Uses Geothermal and Solar Power


Among the growing trends in architectural design, the most prevalent one in this day and age is being more environmentally friendly. Not only is this due to our growing awareness of our effect on the environment at large, but advancements in technology have allowed these alternate forms of energy to become more easily accessible and relatively affordable for a variety of purposes. In fact, some buildings like the Shanghai Wonderland use eco-friendly energy sources. Primarily, though, it uses “Geothermal and solar energy” Geek.com states, which have proven to be among the most effective alternative energy sources thus far.

11 The Roof has Greenery On It


As part of the Shanghai Wonderland’s environmentally friendly design, its roof is “Covered in greenery” as described by Geek.com. Now what does this have to do with solar energy or thermal energy? Well, nothing except that it’s another eco-friendly design that some buildings utilize. Essentially, it consists of plants that have been arranged along the roof of a building either on top of a waterproof layer or within individual pots like in the above picture. Their purpose is to reduce the amount of energy that’s consumed when a building is heating or cooling and absorb runoff from storms.

10 There are 16 Floors Below Ground

Via Business Insider

While the abandoned quarry certainly provided Shanghai Wonderland’s designers with a convenient place to put the hotel, they still had to do quite a bit of digging in order to fit in as many floors to the hotel as possible as well as provide room for an artificial lake they wanted to include. So while “The top floor of the hotel is located at ground level” according to Geek.com, “16 floors of the hotel are located below ground”. In other words, the hotel begins at the top of the quarry and ends at the bottom which goes further down.

9 An Aquarium is Included


In addition to the subterranean floors, there is “A 33-foot-deep aquarium” Geek.com states. Now this is certainly impressive in of itself, even when one takes into consideration that other hotels utilize aquariums to a similar degree. For instance, the Burj Al Arab has an aquarium of its own that stands in the lobby area with tables and chairs nearby. While most aquariums tend to be hotel restaurant features, there are some hotels that have partially submerged rooms in an ocean setting such as one in the Maldives which opened around the same time as the Shanghai Wonderland.

8 There’s an Artificial Waterfall


Apart from an artificial lake and aquarium, another body of water that the Shanghai Wonderland includes is an artificial waterfall. Described by Geek.com as “Spilling down the quarry walls,” one can deduce that it’s more authentic in design than the kind of artificial waterfall shown in the above picture. Though in order for there to be a waterfall, even an artificial one, there has to be a source of water for it to draw from. Fortunately, there is a river that runs next to the quarry where the hotel is located in which presumably serves as the waterfall’s source.

7 A Watersports Center Lies Underground


Though this hasn’t been confirmed yet through pictures, there is supposedly an underground watersports center among the various features that Shanghai Wonderland offers. Now what that means depends on the activities and the amount of space available. After all, a watersports center is just a general term for a place where things like swimming diving and even kayaking are available. So in relation to a hotel that lies below ground, it’ll probably look something like the watersports center in the above picture but with less snow on the ground. With that said, the artificial lake could be used for kayaking.

6 Bungee-Jumping is Available along with Rock-Climbing


For those who aren’t a big fan of watersports in general, there are other kinds of activities that are available at the Shanghai Wonderland. Because the hotel is located inside a pit that’s “288-feet deep” according to Geek.com, there are “Bungee-jumping and rock-climbing attractions”. So unlike rock-climbing gyms which have the concrete walls and fake rocks, this hotel has actual rock-covered walls along the quarry’s edges which are perfectly authentic for climbing. Plus, the deepness of the pit itself minus the lake is clearly good for bungee-jumping since they’re offering that as well.

5 Each Room Comes with a Balcony


When going to hotel, it’s always a hassle to determine what room to get depending on our preferences. For instance, one of the most preferred room types is one with a view and/or a balcony. Yet depending on where the hotel is located, there’s only so many rooms that have balconies let alone ones that have good views. But apparently at the Shanghai Wonderland, “Every room in the hotel features a balcony” according to Geek.com. While this does make sense, as the hotel’s built into the side of the quarry’s interior, that sounds too good to be true.

4 Some Rooms are Submerged


Despite the claim that all the Shanghai Wonderland’s rooms have balconies, this probably doesn’t apply to the ones that are further into the hotel’s interior which presumably don’t have windows (though it would be weird if they did). This especially cannot be true for the two floors which happen to be submerged in the aquarium Geek.com states. Undoubtedly one of the engineering breakthroughs that occurred during the hotel’s decade-long construction, Shanghai Wonderland seems to be the only hotel with entire floors submerged beneath a body of water as opposed to just its restaurant or being located in the ocean.

3 “InterContinental’s underground hotel” - Artificial Beauty


Now given that the walkway in the previous picture is made of glass, it would make some people nervous about its sturdiness as a platform. So as an alternative, we have a set of stairs along the quarry walls that are presumably made from metal (though it’s hard to tell in the above picture given how far the picture was taken from). Then as a bonus, these stairs lead to the hotel’s artificial waterfall which looks just as beautiful as a real one. Now it’s unclear if the pool below it is artificial too or not, but it probably is.

2 “Wedding Rentals” - Lovely Flowers


Given how expensive weddings can be, most couples will actively try to find cheaper alternatives to places where bachelor/bachelorette parties and wedding receptions may be held. In fact, some hotels offer special deals for renting spaces inside for such purposes. Even someplace as fancy as the Shanghai Wonderland has this feature, which is nice since it would be pretty neat to hold a wedding reception in the world’s first underground hotel. Though it’s unclear what the deals are in terms of rental fees, or which rooms they have available for such purposes, they apparently have some lovely flowers displayed.

1 “Concierge” - Room Service


Though the word “Concierge” sounds fancy, it’s nothing more than a description for the receptionist-type workers who greet people in the lobby of the hotel and help them check into their rooms. One can clearly see these actions being done in the above picture by the concierge, whose distinguished by his black uniform with a pin shaped like two keys intertwined that is a Keys of Heaven symbol. The same symbol also appears behind the desktop label that tells people this is where one can find a concierge for an InterContinental hotel, which the Shanghai Wonderland is one of.

Resources: geek.com, chinadaily.com.cn, ihg.scene7.com, hospitality-on.com

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