Astor House Hotel
The Astor House Hotel, also named Pujiang Hotel, is a building filled with many happy and sad stories. In its history, many celebrities from around the world had stayed in it, and they included King George of England, Czar Nicholas of Russa, and Prince Heinrich of Prussia.
The history of the hotel goes back to 1842 when two American sailors built a shack-like hostelry on the site. Sixteen years later, another American storekeeper named P. F. Richards erected a two-story hotel on the spot. Thereafter, the hotel was expanded several times. In 1863, twelve billiard tables were introduced. In 1901 the hotel had 120 guest rooms. In the following year, this hotel began to serve the finest cocktail in the East. In 1904, when the Russian-Japanese War broke out, a wave of wealthy Russian guests came. They liked to drink the finest champagne and often got dead drunk. In 1911, the hotel was extended to the waterfront. The ground floor was turned into a handsome buffet bar and a huge lounge hall while the first floor became a two-story dining hall with balcony and veranda, large enough to seat over 500 guests. In 1917, a new ballroom was opened.
Unfortunately, many sad events also took place in this building. During its early years, the flamboyant Astor Hotel saw various managers drop dead playing billiards, commit suicide, and run off with company funds.
Now this hotel is a Hostelling International member. Though the building has been continually refurbished, some reminders of past glory still lie untouched, such as Room 103, which keeps its original fittings and with its historic flavor intact.