The Webster’s dictionary defines Shangri-la as ‘a remote beautiful imaginary place where life approaches perfection.’ I was lucky enough to visit the Shangri-La Hotel, At the Shard, London last week, where this description is fulfilled in so very many ways.
(A quick sidebar should be noted that our introduction to Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London is in large part due to our friends at Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto. Now that we’ve visited two beautiful properties, it’s time to visit the entire family of properties around the world! – Daniel)
Perfection is a word and goal that we all try to attain in different areas of our lives. The Shangri-la has paid such attention to every small detail, that perfection is, well, attained. I met my host, Victoria, in the stylish ground floor lobby at the Shard. The lobby is as you would imagine, spacious and bustling. To the side of it, there is the chic café, LÁNG.
Lang is popular with the people who work in and around the Shard. The food is priced to match other High Street brands and looks amazing. I was drooling at the beautiful cakes. Here attention to detail is obvious. On the wall there is a beautiful sculpture made out of Wedgewood china. To me it looks like fireworks. Victoria points out that the china has been specially designed for the Shangri-la by Wedgewood. It’s the first of many small but lovely touches that I notice in this amazing place.
From here we head straight up to the 35th Floor. This is where all guests check in and where the restaurants are. I am blown away by the view – from the second I walk out of the elevators, all I can see is the London skyline, with the Tate Modern in the distance. It’s entrancing, I have always loved London and seeing it from this height is a real treat.
Victoria shows me down a flight of open stairs to the 34th Floor, where The “Cultural Salon” is being set up. Tickets are £20 and include Champagne and canape reception and all proceeds go to Blackfriars Settlement, the chosen charity of the Shangri-La Shard. Each Shangri-la has a chosen local charity, which makes them a nice neighbour to have.
We head back up to the 35th floor and walk through Ting Lounge and Ting Restaurant. I am eyeing up the afternoon teas, which look delish, and with views to feast your eyes on at the same time. Ting Lounge serves a mixture of comfort and Asian food, whereas, Ting Restaurant serves fusion food. Both spaces are very elegant and welcoming at the same time. Victoria tells me about plans for a chef’s table as we walk around.
From here we head up to have a look at some of the rooms. The rooms are from the 42nd floor upwards. We start with a Superior room. We open the door and Victoria pops the key in the holder to turn on the electrics – as she does, the blinds on the windows begin to open and we both stand back and appreciate the view that is unfolding before us. This is a feature of each room, and its really effective at introducing these amazing views. Remember those lovely wee touches that I was talking about? Well, these rooms are bursting with them. The bed head is hand embroidered silk, and is so pretty, without being overwhelmingly feminine. Each room comes with binoculars so that you can check out the view some more.
Then we head to my favourite room of any hotel – the bathroom. For the bathroom alone I would love to stay here. There is a marble bath, that faces the view and I could just see myself luxuriating in it, staring at the view. There is a walk in shower and Acqua di Parma toiletries provided. You would have to pry me out of that space.
From there we head to check out a Suite. As we stand back watching the blinds open, I appreciate the space in the room. The couch is a fold out couch, so if guests have children or simply have a guest of their own, they can be accommodated comfortably. Each Suite has a complimentary iPad and of course binoculars. As we enter the bedroom, I notice that the bed comes with a soft toy, a fox.
The fox is of course in honour of the fox that lived in the Shard when it was being built. At one point, it was living right up the top, eating the lunches of the people who worked there. It has since been rehomed, to a more ground level location. The Shangri-la have named this one Romeo, in keeping with being so close the famous Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare’s plays are still performed. Guests can buy Romeo to take home with them, and all proceeds go to Blackfriars Settlement.
From here we head to the 52nd floor, where the gym and pool are housed, as well as a cocktail bar. The pool is beautiful. It is deep enough to swim properly in, but this is a pool to relax in, not really for swimming laps. Never mind if you have forgotten your swimmers, the Shangri-la have a range for you to choose from.
At night when closed for swimming, cocktails can be served by the pool. I feel relaxed just thinking about it. I am planning, in my head, my perfect day of sleeping late, relaxing in the bath, followed by a leisurely brunch, a swim and read by the pool, before glamming up for cocktails – and I have not had to leave the hotel. Sounds good to me, the gym can wait till tomorrow.
It’s time for afternoon tea, for which my bestie and main travel buddy, Liam joins me. The waiter brings me a wee stool for my handbag and pushes me chair in for me. We are treated to a glass of champers as we ogle the view of Tower Bridge. The waiter offers to take a picture for us with the view in the background, I am sure he spends a fair amount of his time doing this. We both relax and catch up on our days as we read the menu. My mouth is watering at what is on its way to us. At the waiters suggestions, we chose to have one of each, an Asian and a Classic afternoon tea. Victoria had told me that 70% of the produced used in the hotel is sourced locally, a lot of it from Borough Market, which is literally at the end of the road.
This again is a great example of the Shangri-la being a good neighbour to have. The waiter checks for allergies – my cashew nut and peach allergies are carefully checked and our afternoon teas appear as if my magic. These are prepared to order, so they are fresh and hot, as well as being tailored to any requirements, like allergies or preferences.
We start at the bottom and work our way upwards to the sweet selection at the top of the tea tower. The Asian afternoon tea begins with dumplings and spring rolls. I love Asian food, so this is perfect for me, we demolish that in short order, and our lovely waiter, brings us some more! In the meantime, we have moved onto the mini sandwiches of the Classic afternoon tea. These feature salmon so lightly smoked, that it melts on your tongue, and delish organic chicken.
Both afternoon teas come with scones – the Classic with strawberry jam, and the Asian with a mango jam. We mix and match these and are delighted with the texture and taste. I am glad that I had a light lunch, as this is seriously filling, but I cannot stop!
Just before we reach the top layer, we are offered tea. I opt for a Peppermint tea, and Liam has a Dragonwell tea. These are served in a pots, with their own tea sieves (see the image above). Again, this feels so luxurious. We are sipping tea at the top of the world. I have seriously sweet tooth, so as I approach the top layer of the afternoon tea, my eyes are drawn to the chocolate mousse cake. It is so light and flavoursome, without being too rich. There is such attention to detail here as well. In a shotglass is vanilla crème with apricot filling. On the white chocolate shard that sits in the glass, the name of the Shangri-la is repeated.
By this point, we are both so full, we would happily have a snooze in one of the rooms. Before we leave, I check out the bathrooms. They are, as you would expect, beautiful. Attention to detail is abundant here as well. In each cubicle there are cell phone chargers that will fit every popular model. There are deodorisers fitted to the toilets. There are magazines and a couch in the entrance. Liam reports the same from the men’s, where he was delighted to find combs and some toiletries provided.
I feel a little sad to be leaving this haven in the sky, I tell Liam about how Victoria has told me that depending on the weather, there are times when guests awake to find that they are literally in the clouds. It truly has been a visit to remote idyllic hideaway, I hope to visit here again very soon.
For more information on the hotel, it’s one of a kind culinary experiences and beautiful experiences you can enjoy, make sure to click here.
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