To put it bluntly, the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard London is nothing short of a ﬁve-star palace in the sky. Designed by one of the world’s most renowned architects, Renzo Piano, the Shangri-La’s first UK outpost occupies ﬂoors 34 to 52 of The Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building.
Boasting arguably the best views of any hotel in London, the 360-degree vistas of the capital, from just about anywhere you stand in this breath-taking structure, are really what you stay here for. Unlike other cities in which skyscrapers are commonplace, London is relatively low-rise, thus spread out generously beneath you from this vantage point.
The Shard dominates the London skyline behind Tower Bridge
Instagram voyeurs wanting to survey and capture London’s majesty from on high will ﬁnd their perfect shot from practically any angle. The top-ﬂoor inﬁnity pool area is a particularly desirable space from which to do so with luxurious lounge areas and a pool boy who hands you heated towels and serves drinks.
The sky pool
The super sleek interiors are scattered with bling — including a chandelier that looks as though it might weigh the same as an elephant — and the brand’s Asian origins cleverly referenced throughout the décor. Moody corridors are dark, with marble panelling and marbled blue and grey carpets creating an undeniably enigmatic sense of serenity about the place — almost other-worldly.
On my visit during one of London’s cruelly unforgiving winters, the marble ensuite’s heated ﬂoors were as welcome touch as you could possibly get. Lounging in the tub — complete with a bath caddy kitted out with L’Occitane toiletries and a holder for your glass — while perusing the movie channels on the mirror-cum-television with London’s landmarks twinkling below is luxury on an entirely different level. High thread-count linen and a pillow menu mean a good night’s sleep is guaranteed, while Nespresso machines and other charming touches, such as binoculars and sound docking systems, make for the most spectacular suites.
It's a suite life at Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard London
There are 202 rooms, including 17 suites, divided into ﬁve categories ranging from superior shard to iconic city view, and six kinds of suites. If you want to make a quick escape for the day, London Bridge is a swift trip down the elevator and directly on your doorstep. Discover the sheer magic of Borough Market’s cornucopia of delectable delights, or hotfoot it over to the Tate Modern to see the latest exhibitions from some of the world’s most acclaimed artists. Fancy brushing up on your Shakespeare or revelling in some medieval history? The Globe Theatre and Tower of London are both within walking distance.
Gong, on the 52nd ﬂoor, is the ideal respite for afternoon tea after a day’s sightseeing around the city. Meanwhile, Ting lounge is perfect for reclining with a nightcap after dinner at the adjoining restaurant complete with a decadent grand piano. A destination restaurant in itself, expect European fare with an Asian twist. Three and ﬁve-course tasting menus are available while the Asian afternoon tea provides a clever change from the usual, serving spring rolls instead of sandwiches.
Stunning vistas of the River Thames at Ting restaurant
East and West meet again at the breakfast buffet where full English options sit alongside delicious curry and noodles. And if that wasn’t enough to send your sights sky high, Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard London has partnered with the new private theatre company, Revels In Hand, which performs a series of plays in the hotel’s top suites.
The audience is seated less than a metre away from the cast, so close that they can see the laughter lines on the cast member’s faces. Such intimate gatherings were common in Shakespearean times when inviting actors to one’s home for a private performance was the thing to do; a pastime well-loved by the aristocracy and royalty. Expect comedies by the likes of well-known playwrights such as Noël Coward and John Van Druten. The audience is limited to 25 seats per performance to ensure the plays remain exclusive and intimate — an ideal evening activity if you’re looking for something a little different. If there was ever any doubt, the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard London has certainly conﬁrmed it; the only way, really is, up.
From Dhs2,383 per night; Shangri-la.com
From the June 2019 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia