Arriving at the Shangri-La London’s reception desk is a check-in experience like no other. Stepping out of the lifts on level 35 of The Shard, guests are welcomed by grey marble floors reflecting stunning views of London’s iconic landmarks through floor-to-ceiling windows. Multilingual team members offer assistance in the guest’s native language.
The Shangri-La hotel at The Shard is the Hong Kong-based hotel group’s eighty-third hotel and the third in Europe, following openings in Paris and Istanbul in 2010 and 2013. Completed in 2012, The Shard stands at 309.6 metres high, making it Western Europe’s tallest building. Located on levels 34 to 52, the Shangri-La is the city’s first high-rise hotel, offering unrivalled views of London landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral.
The hotel has 202 guest rooms that occupy levels 36 through to 50. All the rooms are different, and the higher you are, the fewer there will be on your floor. All rooms and suites feature: the patented Shangri-La bed, automatic climate control that complements the building’s integrated sun shielding, complimentary high-speed Internet access, large marble-clad bathrooms with heated floors, built-in TVs in the bathroom mirror and electronic blinds that work at the touch of a button.
Towering over Southwark Cathedral, our Iconic City Suite was on level 36 and offered gobsmacking views, which we were happy to take a closer look at with the room’s binoculars. Additional touches included an extensive pillow menu, iPod docking stations, Nespresso machines and a Chinese tea set. Frette linen with gold embroidered edging (600 thread count) was on the beds, along with the softest cotton bathrobes. The gleaming bathroom had a standalone bath with views of the capital through floor-to-ceiling windows, and last but not least, Toto washlet toilets (because everyone should experience a warm loo seat at some point in their life). Whether it was the soothing colour scheme and mood lighting, or the fact we were up so high, we were amazed how relaxing we found the suite.
Although we found ourselves captivated by the room, we soon left in search of food and drink. Gong Bar on level 52 serves an exceptional Spring Julep (barrel aged ginger infused vodka meets mint in an ice-clad pewter mug), but it’s crowded with outside guests, so booking is a must. If you want to visit the hotel rather than staying in it, I couldn’t recommend Ting restaurant on level 35 enough for dinner. Using the best of British artisanal and locally sourced market produce (often from Borough Market), this is a modern European menu with a hint of Asian flavours. Elegant and relaxing, dinner here is an absolute pleasure, with excellent staff taking care of your every need. The Dorset crab, with cucumber, mango, tomato and passion fruit, followed by the fillet steak was outstanding, and consuming them was a dreamy and relaxing experience, while watching the light change over the capital.
The Skypool on level 52 must offer one of the best city views in the world, and becomes a unique addition to Gong Bar after 9pm. For those looking to impress their guests, the hotel’s three river-facing event spaces offer a London experience like no other, whether for an intimate celebration or cocktail gatherings.
So the Shangri-La certainly provides an entirely new peaceful perspective on London. Despite its central location, the hotel seems a long way from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. On the face of it, this experience is Shangri-La through and through: immaculate service with exceptional rooms to match. But the building and views do the talking and are what really makes this hotel stand out. I haven’t enjoyed a London hotel experience quite so much in a long time.