It’s one of the most famous buildings in London; a modern symbol of luxury and wealth. Floors 34 – 52 of The Shard are also home to The Shangri La Hotel London, where I was lucky enough to spend the night in late 2016.
It’s taken me so long to write this post because it doesn’t really fit with the rest of this site. The Shangri La London certainly isn’t budget-friendly, it’s not eco-friendly and it isn’t somewhere you might stay if you were looking to reconnect with nature. That being said, it was an experience I’ll never ever forget, and so for that reason, I just had to write it up.
My stay at the Shangri La was the result of winning a social media competition, not once but twice. Well, technically I won once and Pete won the second time, but between us, it meant we could book an overnight stay at The Shard and still have enough ‘Golden Circle’ loyalty points to treat ourselves to dinner and drinks too. Jammy isn’t the word!
Sauntering in to the lifts at The Shangri La was a surreal experience – in a really, really good way. With check-in situated on the 34th floor, we were inevitably surrounded by wealthy tourists all taking pictures of the amazing views from the floor to ceiling windows as we waited for our room key. We joined them for a moment, but then it was straight up to the 42nd floor, elbowing each other out of the way so we could each try to be the first to jump on that massive bed!
Each spacious room comes with a set of super-chunky binoculars, a really nice touch even if it does make you feel like a bit of a peeping Tom.
If like me, you’re a bit of a skincare / toiletry perv, you’ll understand why I was so chuffed with the pricey Acqua Di Parma toiletries in the huge marble bathroom. I totally pocketed all of those!
Also fabulous was the bathroom mirror which turned into a TV at the click of a remote. The heated toilet seats in the private loo, however? No, totally gross.
After a thorough room check and a bit of snooping on the residents of London, we did what any self-respecting guest would do – grabbed our swimming costumes and headed up to the 52nd floor for a dip in the highest swimming pool in Europe.
The pool is small, owing to the fact that up on these levels, there is very little space left to fill. Surrounding it are some comfy lounge chairs, coffee machines, and spare towels.
There’s no denying that the view is spectacular – the only issue for me was that the water was really chilly, which took the edge off my enjoyment a little bit. I wonder if it’s a tactic employed to stop people staying too long in a pool that could only comfortably accommodate 10 or so people?
After a quick spruce up back at our room, it was time for dinner. Thanks to my crappy planning skills, we couldn’t get a table in the TING restaurant, and so had to make do with dinner in the more casual TING lounge. As we were seated quite a way away from the windows, we had no sense of eating in a restaurant situated so high above London’s streets, which was a real shame.
I didn’t take any pictures during dinner as I wanted to enjoy the meal and my company without distraction, but in total, our three course meal plus a glass of wine each came to around £140, and though delicious, it was forgettable (and I have indeed forgotten what I ordered). In short, if you can’t get a window seat, there are far more exciting and impressive places to eat dinner in London, for less.
After dinner, it was straight back up in the lift, this time for cocktails at the GONG cocktail bar which shares the 52nd floor with the swimming pool. For me, this is where the Shangri La London really shines.
An attentive, efficient waitress ushered us to the tall stools at the bar. We ordered our first couple of drinks and watched them whipped up with a flourish by the smartly dressed barman, before presenting them to us in a metal birdcage. These unique cocktails aren’t cheap at around £20 a piece, but this is about more than a drink; this is theatre.
After our first drink, a window seat opened up, and we spent the rest of the night talking, gazing out over twinkly London, and picking off various cocktails from the extensive menu. My favourite was called ‘Under The Sea’ and was a heady mix of seaweed and champagne, topped with half an oyster shell filled with chocolate pearls. This was a night that will stay in my memory for a long, long time.
We racked up an impressive bill at Gong (over £250, though granted, this time we weren’t paying) but in all honesty, I would do it again in a heartbeat. This is the perfect place to go drinking if you want to celebrate something really special. Your only task is to somehow get past the snooty woman on the door who only let riff-raff like us in because we had a room reservation!
After an incredibly comfortable and restful night’s sleep in an enormous bed – swathed in duvets and bedclothes that probably cost more than my entire wardrobe – it was time to pack up and say goodbye to our room, but not before one last selfie in front of those epic London views…
The Shard is an undeniably impressive feat of modern architecture and one of my favourite London landmarks; I can think of no better home for the absolute luxury of The Shagri La hotel. Our stay was a delight and we loved every minute of it, but had we paid for our room, dinner and drinks ourselves, it would have cost us at least £800. That’s a lot of money!
Considering that most people spend the best part of their time in even the fanciest hotel room fast asleep – and that for me, the best thing about The Shangri La is those amazing views – my recommendation is this:
Book yourself in to a budget hotel (like this one), put on your fanciest clothes, and try your damnedest to get a reservation for cocktails at GONG. And if you get in? Spend every last penny on fabulous one-of-a-kind cocktails, and enjoy soaking up those sensational views!