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New Urbanism: Shangri-La Ulaanbaatar

The Shangri-La is a marked upgrade for a city where high aesthetic praise includes laudatory comments about “old Soviet charm.” 

Mongolia, and its population center of Ulaanbaatar, have been slow to slough off the cultural and economic devastation wrought by Soviet domination, which ended in 1990. But as capitalism transforms this country where many people still live in gers (yurts) and a significant number still practice a nomadic lifestyle, the Shangri-La’s presence is a firm foothold in the 21st century. The hotel is at the center of the city’s cultural offerings—within an easy walk to the Great Chinggis Khaan Square. It is a great home base for those interested in seeing a people undergoing breathtaking change.

The hotel nods at the country’s unique past, with lobby staff dressed in Mongolian garb and lighting fixtures shaped like horns honoring the country’s hunting traditions. It also offers dramatic views of Mongolia’s rugged terrain. For those who want more, the Shangri-La can coordinate with several luxury lodges to give guests excursions into Mongolia’s countryside. In the Gobi Desert, for example, a unique and authentic experience can be found at the top-of-the-line Three Camel Lodge, where your accommodation will be a traditional ger, upgraded to regional luxury standards with a private bathroom including running water and solar-powered electric lights. Gers are waterproof, almost airtight, with no internet or telephone. All of which makes returning to the Shangri-La’s spacious guest rooms with WiFi and thoughtfully appointed bathrooms a particular comfort. The hotel’s main restaurant, Café Park, provides high-quality Western and Asian options that can be diffcult to come by in the city.

Starting rate: $280 per night for a deluxe room
Contact: 
Gary Biondo, general manager, gary.biondo@shangri-la.com, 976.7702.9999, shangri-la.com/ulaanbaatar/shangrila; Three Camel Lodge: info@threecamellodge.com, 976.11.313.396, threecamellodge.com

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