A couple of friends took me for drinks at Salon de Ning, a bar in The Peninsula Manila, and I am still reeling from the place’s heady spell. It was such a visual feast, an immensely delicious one! Everywhere I looked were mosaics and photographs, paintings and sculptures, memorabilia and objets d’art — all set against a backdrop of voluptuous opulence.
Ning is a fictitious madam and socialite of 1930′s Shanghai, nicknamed then as the Paris of the East. She is the muse for the glamor and decadence in this hotel lounge’s interiors, where art deco meets chinoiserie, exotic east meets posh west.
There are a lot of seashells in the decor. The pillars are covered with what looked like scales made of capiz shells. The lamps — oh, the glorious lamps — are made with different kinds of shells that were strung together to create lovely textured disks suspended in the air.
Salon de Ning has four boudoirs that open to the main lounge area, each one cleverly and sexily decorated in one of these themes — boxing, zeppelin, shoes, and Shanghai — all great obsessions of Madam Ning’s.
Aside from Manila, Madame Ning also has salons in Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York.