Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Shangri-La at the Shard

30 Jun 2014 by GrahamSmith

BACKGROUND

The Shangri-La opened in the Shard building in May. It’s the third European property for the Hong Kong-based luxury group.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The hotel is designed to make the most of its splendid views.

Located on floors 34 to 52 of the 72-storey skyscraper, it has a ground-floor reception where welcoming staff take your name and point you towards two high-speed lifts that whisk you to the 35th-floor main desks.

Stepping out, the capital and its landmarks unfurl in front of you through the floor-to-ceiling windows – a thrilling sight. You can walk around this level taking in London from 360 degrees, with reception leading on to the lounge and restaurant. The décor is elegant and understated – no doubt the intention was to defer to the view.

I stayed three weeks after the launch, when 59 of the 202 rooms were open (by July 7, all but the three signature suites – due by the end of the year – were to be ready).

The staff were clearly still bedding in and the check-in experience was a bit chaotic. I arrived at 3.20pm to find my room wasn’t ready, and was left to hover around with several guests in the same position. After half an hour I was invited to have a coffee in the lounge until it was ready, which turned out to be 4.30pm.

On arrival in the room, our bags weren’t there; when they appeared shortly after, one was missing and had to be retrieved.

WHERE IS IT?

In the Shard, next to London Bridge station – the hotel is signposted in the station.

ROOM FACILITIES

Set across floors 36 to 50, rooms range from entry-level Superior to the still-to-open top Shangri-La suite. Rooms are 30 sqm-60 sqm and suites 65 sqm-232 sqm.

As has been reported, a quirk of the building is that in some rooms it is possible to see into others. From the bathroom of my 49th-floor corner room, I could see into the room to the right, and the edge of the bathroom above that, meaning, presumably, that I could be spotted too. That’s unfortunate when the free-standing tub is by the window for you to enjoy the view (about half of the bathrooms have windows). The hotel says it is testing a number of solutions and that blinds are available in the meantime.

The colour palette is blue, rust and silver, with wood and marble finishes. Rooms are well kitted out with facilities such as Samsung TVs, Nespresso machines, iPod docks and free wifi. King-sized beds and desks are positioned to look straight out on to the view – in my Premier City View room, the bed faced south while the bathroom offered fantastic T

hames views. Two-thirds of the marble bathrooms have separate tubs and rainshowers, and Acqua di Parma toiletries are provided. A couple of fixtures seemed to have been fitted in a rush for opening – one drawer kept jarring when I opened it, while in the bedroom, the carpet had bubbled up by the bed.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

The all-day Ting lounge serves an Asian menu and afternoon tea. Ting restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving modern European dishes with Asian influences.

I had an excellent meal, thoroughly enjoying my starter of Highland langoustine, chorizo, paprika and Parmesan risotto (£18), then John Dory with sweet potato, burnt butter, wild mushroom and lime (£26). The sommelier, Anne, was knowledgeable and engaging. I also enjoyed a well-made cocktail overlooking Tower Bridge in the 52nd-floor Gong bar.

There is a café and deli, Lang, on the ground level.

BUSINESS FACILITIES

On the 34th floor is a ballroom that holds 140 guests for a reception, and two meeting rooms seating ten and 30 delegates – all with those views.

LEISURE FACILITIES

The 52nd-floor infinity pool (opening August 11) overlooks the Thames and London Eye. At night it will become part of Gong bar. There is also a gym. There is no spa, but two treatment rooms are to be set up and in-room services are available.

VERDICT

The views alone make the Shangri-La one of London’s must-tries – they’re quite unlike any you can get elsewhere. While there were some teething troubles, the restaurant and bar were impressive, and the 52nd-floor pool should be fantastic.
 

FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? 202 – 60 Superior, 78 Deluxe City View,? 36 Premier City View,? 11 Iconic City View, five Premier suites, nine Iconic suites, one Westminster suite,?one London suite and one Shangri-La suite.
  • HIGHLIGHTS The spectacular 360-degree views of London, and the friendly service and great food and drink in the restaurant and 52nd-floor bar.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in September started from £450 for a Superior room.
  • CONTACT Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard, 31 St Thomas Street; tel +44 (0)20 7234 8000; shangri-la.com

Michelle Harbi
 
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