It’s not every day you get invited to stay at somewhere on your bucket list, so when the opportunity arose to stay at The Shard, London, I jumped at the chance!
The Shard: Facts
Originally conceived as a building with multiple uses by it’s designer, Italian architect, Renzo Piano, The Shard is a 95-storey skyscraper (72 which are habitable). It houses enviable offices, award-wining restaurants, the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel with 202 guestrooms and suites on floors 32-52, private residences, a pool on level 52, the UK’s highest viewing gallery, ‘The View from The Shard’ (which is open to the public) and open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor, at a height of 244 metres (801 ft), offering panoramic views across London as far as the eyes can see. Phew!
Standing 309.6 meters (1,016 ft) high, the Shard is now not only an icon in its own right, it is also the tallest building in the United Kingdom, the tallest building in the European Union, and the fifth-tallest building in Europe.
The Shard is also very accessible. It is located on St Thomas Street, less than 1 minutes’ walk from London Bridge Train and Tube Station. The location is a stones throw from the infamous Borough Market and cool urban bars of the surrounding area of Southwark on London’s South Bank. The Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard is the capitals highest hotel in one of the most iconic, instantly recognisable buildings housed in an area so rich in historic character that seamlessly balances old with new, raw mixes with refined and traditional partners visionary. Towering above the beating heart of real London – this 5-star luxury hotel, with its contrasting sleek modern style shows that luxury doesn’t have to be historic, old, traditional or stuffy.
5 star Staff
I arrived quite late on a Friday evening and was warmly welcomed by a front of house team who completely understand customer service. From the doorman, to the concierge to the waiting on staff, these guys have it nailed. They’re so proficient and attentive yet still manage to give you the space when you need it. Prior to my arriving, the customer service was on point too, asking a few discreet questions about my intended stay so that when I arrived, little touches had been addressed to make my stay even more pleasurable – including a birthday cake. A really lovely gesture (and very delicious!).
There are various rooms available – all with stunning views either towards the counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex or unparalleled northerly and easterly views, which include some of London’s most famous landmarks like Tower Bridge, St Pauls and the winding Thames towards Westminster.
I’d paid for a city view room – well worth the extra. The breath taking view alone was worth it! To my left, I could see the Thames snaking towards Westminster and beyond. Directly in front was the magnificent St Pauls Cathedral and the city. Then to the right, was the beautiful Tower Bridge – which we were lucky enough to see open at night! Canary Wharf and beyond… just fabulous. From my room in the sky, the scene below looked like a miniature model! Also tucked away in my room was an office which faced towards Surrey and the countryside. I could definitely work with a view like that! (Although I’m not sure how much ‘work’ would get done!).
That evening, I was so taken with the incredible view before me that I opted for room service. I wanted to take it all in! Waking the following morning didn’t disappoint either, with London basking and buzzing in the splendid sunshine.
A view to kill
Each guest room is uniquely designed. My bedroom was a good size – probably bigger than most in central London – with floor to ceiling views and fitted with electric black out blinds to block the glare of the morning sun, should you need it. The bed offered the best nights sleep I’ve had in years! The furnishings maintain the theme of Oriental elegance which are found throughout the entire hotel. A fusion of refined materials such as marble and silk which sit alongside high end technology to make your life easy – but it’s all very discreet. Luxury is key here. The binoculars in the room are a nice touch to view the spectacular surroundings too.
The marble en-suite bathroom was beautiful and the size of many apartments! With under floor heating, high end fixtures like a freestanding bath tub, glass-enclosed shower and mirrors with integrated TV screens. With complimentary kimonos and Acqua di Parma toiletries, all of which were welcomed. All rooms feature climate control to complement the building’s integrated sun shielding too. This, all topped off with the obligatory spectacular views. Just incredible.
I must pay a special mention to the incredible Japanese toilet which has since become the gold standard for me in 5-star flushing…nothing else will simply do!
Eat, drink and observe.
All of the public areas have a wow factor and the indoor pool on the 52nd floor is just fabulous and definitely worth a visit. Nothing like a morning swim with a spectacular view! The two timings daily for children to swim is more than sufficient, it’s nice to know it’s not just an ‘adults only’ place and the little ones are catered for too.
Not only is there all manner of cool eateries and bars on the doorstep. You are spoilt for choice in the hotel itself. Boasting 3 dining and drinking venues, including TING, the signature restaurant and lounge – which is perfect for afternoon tea, on level 35. Bar 31 is a friendly ground-level neighbourhood bar. Then there’s GŎNG. Set on level 52, this is the highest bar in London and perfect for sunset cocktails, seemingly never-ending champagne and late-night drinks in chic surrounds, with spectacular views of London’s skyline. I’d recommend booking.
The following morning I had a big day planned so needed a decent breakfast. The breakfast bar did not disappoint! It catered for every taste from granola with yogurt, delicious pastries, full English to stir fries… I felt spoilt for choice! You can also help yourself as many times as you wish. Once again, the service was welcoming yet professional.
All in all this was a fabulous stay. I had high expectations of this place. It is a 5 star hotel in an iconic building after all. But from start to finish I seriously couldn’t fault it – and, believe me, I was looking! Every tiny detail has been thoroughly thought about. From the surroundings to the service – it’s completely perfectly pitched. The Shangri-La might carry a heftier price tag than some hotels, but, compared to other properties in this city, you get more bang for your buck here. Yes, it may be an extravagance but this is one hotel stay I will remember for a long time so, for me, it was so worth it. A true 5 star experience – and one which I’d repeat. In. A. Heartbeat!
Seek and ye shall find!
You can find The Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard at 31 St Thomas Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9QU, United Kingdom.
T: 020 7234 8000
The nearest train and tube station is London Bridge which is, as mentioned, just a minute’s walk away from The Shard.