4 of the best KTV bars in Shanghai

Some of the top karaoke joints in town, plus one to avoid

Cheap and cheerful


Haoledi


With prime spots across town, including in Lujiazui and on Huaihai Lu, Haoledi is a good option for a spontaneous post-night out KTV trip. The chain attracts a young, boozy crowd, many of whom are students who congregate in the central area to smoke and shriek at one another.

It’s not particularly glam but it’s got a cheap, buzzy bar-style atmosphere which helps get you in the mood. The rooms are small and basic, and there were some dodgy sound levels on the system in the one we were allocated. Luckily one of our number was an actual audio engineer who managed to decipher the system. All in all we had a good time at Haoledi, although that can possibly be put down to the fact that we had drunk six gin martinis before arriving.

What we sang There are fewer Western songs that in some of the other KTVs we tried, and many of them are accompanied by a strange pseudo-erotic video of a girl writhing around on the beach. That isn’t to say there’s not enough to keep you busy: we sang all the pop hits by the likes of
songstresses Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, and Adele.

Booze and food Cheapo bar and snacks menu – they’ll bring a crate of Tsingtao (15RMB per bottle), dump it in your room, and let you work your way through it.

Price Range between 90RMB for three hours mid-week before 7.30pm to 300RMB/hour for a big room at the weekend.

Fancy Pants


KTV is for everyone – whether you sing like Pavarotti or a bag of cats each with a 40-a-day smoking habit – and it is the wonderful sense of democracy that keeps us going back. It seems odd therefore that somewhere as stubbornly elitist as Le Baron should throw its hat into the karaoke ring, but here it is with a spangly new KTV joint that makes a common endeavour seem aspirational.

The KTV lounges are designed to mimic an apartment – so there’s a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, which don’t actually look like any of those things unless, of course, you’ve decorated your flat to look like a sexy club (no judgement). We plumped for the bedroom, and we’ll give you a warning right here: Don’t excitedly throw yourself on the bed because it is not actually a real mattress and you will hurt your bum. Further to this, the hot tub in the ‘bathroom’ isn’t one that you can actually fill up with water, and it’s likely that you’re unable to cook anything in the kitchen either (although at least that saves on the washing up).

What we sang We quickly discovered that nice surroundings are rendered pointless when you’re drunk and serving up sass to the likes of TLC, Brandy and Monica and Destiny’s Child, because really, you might as well be anywhere – your KTV experience is only ever as good as the song selection. One of our editors was thrilled to discover a decent selection of songs by Brit popsters Girls Aloud, so safe to say there’s a pretty extensive catalogue of Western songs that you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere.

Booze High-class KTV comes at a cost – the pricey drinks menu sees bottles of wine start at 480RMB, scaling up to a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut for 13,000RMB. There’s also a good range of house cocktails, starting at 80RMB.

Price The minimum spend in the ‘bathroom’ is 5,000RMB, the kitchen 6,000RMB, and the bedroom 7,000RMB.

Novelty factor

Vshow

V Show


Less of a KTV lounge, and more of an amusement park-style faux-village crammed with different themed rooms. The pink-quilted corridors – paved with checkerboard flooring and replete with mirrors and chandeliers – are all marked with cutesy little street signs which direct you to your lounge of choice. There’s also a spacious central bar area complete with a pool table and giant glitterball.

With rooms themed on kids favourite Xi Yang Yang (Pleasant Goat), Japanese cartoon hero Astro Boy, Audrey Hepburn, and, err, Chanel, the range is varied – we opted for Hello Kitty on account of Hello Kitty being amazing. We were escorted into a pink and white striped room decorated with white fluffy clouds, but to be perfectly honest it really could have been a bit more Hello Kittier; there was just one Hello Kitty head cushion doing the honours. We can only speculate that maybe there were once more, but drunk people stole them, which is fair enough as they are an undeniably desirable commodity.

What we sang The playlist was impressively up-to-date – we visited four days after ‘Hello’ by Adele broke the internet and it was already on there. We decided to balance out our saccharine surroundings, however, by putting together a playlist of Eminem, Dr Dre and 50 Cent. Hello Kitty,
motherfucker!

Booze and food Pick up a ‘high alcoholic’ cocktail such as a pineapple mojito or Long Island Ice Tea for 60RMB, or else take a gamble on a ‘Margaret’ which we believe to be a Margarita that has been accidentally anglicised. Drinking a Margaret just doesn’t sound as glam.

Price Sun-Thu rooms range between 59-229RMB depending on the time and size of room; Fri-Sat rooms range between 95-388RMB.

Connoisseur's choice

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Kparty

K Party


KTV is a cultural institution in China, and nowhere is this more in evidence than at the Dapuqiao branch of Taiwanese chain K Party, a dazzling, marble-floored, supersized KTV emporium numbering hundreds of rooms and filled with ornate furniture, giant teddy bears, and a massive glitterball horse in reception to herald your entrance. There’s even a mini cinema on site, if you feel like giving your lungs a rest.

Rooms are equipped with retro radiostyle standing microphones on podiums, and have their very own toilet, probably because the whole site is so ginormous that otherwise people would pop to the loos and then not be able to find their way back again. This is five-star KTV, basically – if there’s a slicker, grander temple to KTV anywhere else downtown, then we’d jolly well like to see it.

What we sang There’s oodles of choice – from Kelis and Alanis to Blur and Oasis, and Taiwanese favourite Jay Chou. Something for everyone.

Booze and food K Party has a very reasonably priced menu including bottles of Tsingtao for 15RMB, cocktails ranging from 42-68RMB, and an a la carte menu of Chinese and Western food.

Price Rooms can be hired by the hour; prices vary depending on time and size; 38-218RMB Mon-Thu; 38-288RMB Fri-Sat; 58-218RMB on Sun.

...And one to avoid


Cashbox Partyworld


While Cashbox Partyworld once boasted many venues across the land, now just one remains, above Shanghai Stadium metro on lines 3 and 4 (take exit 4 which leads into a mall, and then ride the elevator up to the sixth floor). Admittedly, it did rather give the impression of a business that needs to be put out of its misery – the staff are dour and unfriendly (in person and over the phone), the décor is ugly and dated, and all signs generally just point to ‘rubbish’, but as we learned throughout the making of this article, once you’ve got your beer goggles on and started singing your environment dissolves away.


Partyworld does get points for supplying you with musical instruments to accompany your caterwauling, specifically a tambourine and a pair of maracas, both which we shook like our lives depended on it. Be warned, the system is entirely in Chinese but it’s easy enough for non-Chinese speakers to hazard a guess and push the right buttons.


What we sang Because of our new shakey percussive bits we opted for songs which involved shaking, such as Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ and Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’. We also stormed Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’, and ‘Let It Go’, which we believe to be the KTV song of the moment, at least until Frozen 2 is released.


Booze and food There’s basic drinks menu, with Coronas going for 25RMB each, and bottles of Tsingtao for 20RMB; and you can opt for a slightly suspicious-looking buffet for 69RMB per person which includes room hire.


Price Sun-Thur rooms range between 40-225RMB depending on time and price; Fri-Sat between 40-325RMB.

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