Tired of London, tired of life, blah blah blah, But with incessant work deadlines, rushed commutes and the never-ending recession, it’s pretty easy to be tired of London these days. Samuel Johnson obviously wasn’t living in the Big Smoke of the 21st century. However, observing our fair city’s skyline from the magnificent vantage point of the Shangri-La hotel‘s infinity pool on the 52nd floor of the Shard, it’s pretty easy to find yourself falling (back) in love with London.
The soft curve of St Pauls’ dome; the bright twinkling lights of the London Eye; Big Ben’s familiar face; even the imposing stature of the Walkie Talkie and the Gherkin’s bombastic structure seem charming. And even if you’re not a views person (I’m not), you can’t fail to be impressed by the iconic London vistas presented when staying at the Shangri-La. Snap, snap, snap as you Instagram and hashtag away, but however skilled you might be, that view just won’t look quite as amazing on a screen as in person.
Taking over a substantial section of the Renzo Piano-designed monolith (from the 34th to the 52nd floors), the Shangri La is as glossy and glamorous as you’d anticipate, all while letting that spectacular view take centre stage. It’s five-star, it’s luxe and really, who doesn’t want to take a dip in a marble bathtub while looking at the sparkling lights of the London skyscape and feeling #sorrynotsorry for those poor schmucks still scrutinising their computer screens in Canary Wharf? The hotel has 185 rooms and 17 suites, all with the high spec fixtures and fittings you’d expect from Hong Kong’s most illustrious hospitality group.
The luxury hotel’s rooms might not satisfy design devotees (expect a shimmery haze of blues, browns, golds, greys and beige), but what they lack in personality, they more than make up for in facilities. Crisp Frette bedlinen is to be found on the indecently-sized beds – which feature Shangri La’s patented body contouring technology, of course. And then there’s the bathrooms – all heated marble floors, Acqua di Parma toiletries and a rather clever TV integrated into the mirror. The novel Japanese-style toilet has almost more functions than your phone. And of course, waking up in the clouds and raising the blinds to see the city bathed in morning sunlight is quite an experience. We suggest locating the in-room binoculars and making yourself a quick Nespresso to make the most of the moment.
Talking of experiences, it’s absolutely imperative to whizz up to level 52 for cocktails at GŎNG – whether or not you’re staying at the Shangri-La. We’d definitely recommend booking as not too surprisingly, GŎNG’s a popular spot for a cocktail or two. Could be something to do with that view. However, observing the sun setting over the cityscape before darkness falls and the bright lights begin to illuminate London, there’s no arguing with just how breathtaking that vista is. The drinks aren’t bad either – and the menu features both locally-inspired tipples as well as Oriental-style ‘Journey to Shangri-La’ cocktails. We loved the London-themed Bermondsey Bubbles (Jensen’s Bermondsey Dry gin with rose liquor and creole bitters topped up with Champagne), or for something more exotic, try the Silk Road (made with Asian Barley spirit, Prucia plum and cucumber).
Appetite piqued, we suggest heading back down to the 35th floor, where you’ll find the hotel’s restaurant and lounge, TING. The menu features the very best of British produce (think Dorset crab andHighland langoustines) in a contemporary European menu with touches of Asian cuisine. Although this might sound a little confusing, the “creations inspired by produce” are generally executed in perfectly precise fashion and beautifully presented. Shiso, soy and yuzu accent grilled prime organic lamb and Dover Sole, while mango, lime and pineapple add tropical flavours to the dessert menu. Breakfast at TING continues the Asian theme, with savoury rice congee or noodles and a selection of dim sum on offer alongside traditional British and continental options. The Shangri-La’s breakfast selection is as expansive as you’d expect – add in the views and there’s no doubt it’s a meal to linger over.
Throughout our stay, staff at the Shangri-La were polite, courteous and poised – with a quiet disposition quite opposite to what you might at expect at American hotels, for example. There’s none of that warm exuberance or enthusiastic friendliness – and some might find the hotel’s staff a little aloof and rather cool. A little like the understated interiors really, the magnificent view is the star of the show, and there’s really no competing. However, staff aside, a stay at the Shangri-La hotel at the Shard is a bucket list experience – even if you live in London, we suggest finding a reason for a staycation pronto. Feeling tired of London and a little of life? We have just the thing for you.
For more information and to book, see the Shangri-La hotel’s website or telephone +44 (0) 20 7234 8000.