Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, London
The hype is totally justified in this lofty Asian hotel, where perfect rooms come with the best views in town.
Making a splash even before it had opened, the Shangri-La continues to impress with its breathless list of highest this, that and the other – notably highest swimming pool in western Europe, highest champagne bar in western Europe, and of course its setting in the highest building in western Europe. It’s this height and attendant views that are the big draw, but the Shangri-La goes the extra mile with everything, and has one magical effect that no other London hotel can achieve.
There are the rooms for a start – spacious, comfortable, and decorated with understated Asian-inspired motifs including delicate silk chinoiserie wall panels and Asian art. Then there’s what is actually in them: Nespresso machines; fresh milk and fresh fruit; a well-stocked minibar and tea tray; a teeny-tiny TV in the bathroom mirror; Japanese Washlet toilets with warm seats; drench showers and bathtubs (many with views; ask for one when you book); cotton yukata kimonos, and Acqua di Parma toiletries. And, natch, a copy of Time Out alongside such salubrious titles as CNT and luxury London mag In London.
But of course what dominates these superbly appointed rooms are the views, and Renzo Piano’s design of the building ensures that each one, with its floor to ceiling windows and glass corners, ensures they’re as expansive as possible; from ours, using the binoculars provided in each room, you could see virtually the whole of north London. By day its sheer size beggars belief, by night the clusters of twinkling lights are mesmerising enough to make leaving your room very difficult.
When you do venture out, it should be no further than to Ting bar on floor 35, and restaurant, or gym, pool and GŎNG bar on floor 52 – all of them, as you’d expect are luxurious, tranquil, high-end and pitch perfect. At the plush and romantic Ting, Gareth Bowen’s perfectly judged market menu at £65 for four courses (£110 with wine pairings) is unforgettable, especially if you manage to eat it at a window table. At the GŎNG Bar, champagnes run from a glass at £20 to a bottle of Cristal Brut 2005 at £2,500, but more fun are the Circle of Life cocktails; 18 drinks devised to reflect our journey through life. Next to it, the infinity pool becomes part of the bar after 8pm and offers amazing views of the city. By day or night, the pool experience is magical, and it’s from here that I fell in love with the Shangri-La… not least because, gazing out of this beautiful, serene space at the messy, sprawling, chaotic place I’ve chosen to make my home, it makes me fall in love with London all over again. And that’s really special.