It transformed the pit and saved it from potentially becoming a landfill. Source: IHG.

THE world’s first underground hotel, built in a decommissioned quarry, has opened its doors in the Sheshan Mountain Range on the fringes of Shanghai, China.

Buried almost 90 meters deep in the quarry, the stunning 18-story InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland is part of a US$288 million development that also includes a theme park.

Said to be “an architectural masterpiece”, InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland was built by Atkins, the British firm that is responsible for the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.

“With its exceptional experiences and personalized services, the hotel is ready to welcome guests to a world of alluring luxury and natural wonder, inviting everyone to live and enjoy the InterContinental life.” IHG Greater China chief marketing officer Lin Wang said.

The subterranean hotel has two floors above ground and 16 below ground, with 336 well-appointed rooms designed to mimic the quarry’s landscape.

It includes a floor of suites below the water level with windows buffered by large fish tanks so guests can enjoy watching shoals of fish swim past.

Source: IHG.

Inside, there are underwater public areas, conference facilities for up to 1,000 people, and sport and leisure centers.

The lowest level of the hotel contains a leisure complex with a swimming pool and water-based sports while an extreme sports center for activities such as rock climbing and bungee jumping are accessible via special lifts from the water level of the hotel.

Guests can also enjoy a brilliant nightly light show before heading off to the underwater The Quarry bar for a pre-bedtime tipple.

Other key design features of InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland include a cascading glass waterfall and exposed rock.

Source: IHG.

While the project was praised for reducing the impact on the environment by keeping the majority of construction within the disused pit and saving it from potentially becoming a landfill, it was not without unexpected problems.

“Why do we say there is nothing in the world that compares to the quarry hotel project?” AFP quoted Shimao Property chief engineer Chen Xiaoxiang as saying.

“It’s a project that’s completely new, a project we have never encountered before. There were no references, cases or experience we could learn from to solve all the difficulties,” he said.

Before construction started in 2013, heavy rainfall caused a nearby river to overflow into the quarry, filling half of it. To prevent this from happening again, the designers built an embankment around the edge of the pit and a pump house is used to help regulate water levels.

It required innovative engineering solutions and more than 5,000 people to complete.

Room charges start from a cool US$490 a night.

The InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland is 30 kilometers from Hongqiao Airport and about an hour’s drive from the center of Shanghai.

For more information, visit the hotel’s website.

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