There are many hotels in London to suit all tastes, budgets and preferences, however none come close to the claim of the Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard, London. Bearing the title of the highest hotel in Europe, it boasts 360 degree breathtaking views across the London city skyline, with every room delivering pure awe and astonishment to guests.
Located in the stunning newly built London skyscraper The Shard, which was designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, there is really no better way for the Shangri-La to enter the British hotel market than with such a jaw-dropping property as this. Occupying the 34th to 52nd floors with just over 200 rooms, there is a sky high level of attention to detail matching the sky high location of the hotel.
Arriving at the Shard on a classic rainy London day, a welcoming doorman took our bags as we continued up from the ground floor to the main lobby on level 35. As the elevator doors open, you walk out into a light-filled room overlooking London’s busy city below. Our check-in was smooth and personalised, aided by the lovely Felix at the front desk who made the interaction a seamless process. He proceeded to guide us on a mini hotel tour to view the different restaurants, bar, gym and pool before landing on our amazing room.
Entering the room, spectacular floor to ceiling windows look out over the River Thames, providing a jaw-dropping view. The room came even more alive at night, with the city lights glistening offering an entrancing sight below. A pair of binoculars allows one to get an even closer look and examine the various sights more closely.
The room itself combines a fusion of contemporary Asian style with modern sleek finishes. Uniting silver greys and light timber tones, alongside gorgeous silk Chinese blossom patterns, the hotel has managed to marry the two cultures together in an elegant and refined manner. The room was large and spacious with a decent wardrobe and desk space with state of the art electronics.
The mini bar was supplied with premium spirits including Belvedere vodka, Hendricks gin and Balvenie whisky, beside in-house snacks featuring the classic British all butter shortbread, jelly beans, nuts and crisps. One must not forget the Asian influence with the range of snacks including an instant Shin Ramyun noodle soup cup, IAMWT founder Jen would definitely be thrilled with that!
The bathroom was amazing and almost more marvellous than the room! Our room was situated on a corner, with two walls giving way to mesmerising views over the city; a huge bath tub encompassing the entire outlook, and the shower also viewing out over the city. It was stocked with luxurious amenities by Italian institution Acqua Di Parma. The toilet is one of those exceedingly fancy types, that has all kinds of settings that does many interesting things to your bottom, however I was a little too afraid to test it out!
Once I had settled in, I ventured up to the pool to do some laps and unwind. As the highest sky pool in Europe, it is an incredibly relaxing space to enter with comfortable lounges, elegant tables, Nespresso coffee, water and towels around the room, providing all the necessities. Next door is home to the Shangri-La at the Shard’s signature bar Gong. During busier nights and throughout summer, the bar festivities extend into the cool sleek pool enclosure providing fun aquatic vibes and great atmosphere. The bar is classy and plush, with velvet textures, soft lounges, dim intimate lighting and seductive dark tones throughout the décor. Gong opens from 12pm daily, offering a delicious afternoon tea and seasonally changing cocktail menu with bar food as well as a dedicated Champagne bar stocked with an extensive selection of the finest bubbly! The complementary snacks are naughtily addictive, and by night, the bar is the perfect vantage point to look out over the city and admire the sights below such as the famed London Bridge. I enjoyed the one of their signature crafted cocktails which provided a refreshing and sweet start to my evening.
For dinner, we enjoyed an amazing meal crafted by their culinary expert Gareth Bowen who oversees all three dining venues, Ting Restaurant, Ting Lounge and Lang. Ting Restaurant unites a European inspired menu with Asian elements to create beautifully presented dishes full of flavour and finesse. Ting Lounge is also another popular place to enjoy Afternoon Tea, offering a more relaxed atmosphere which focuses on predominantly Asian cuisine alongside Western and Arabic dishes.Ting‘s sophisticated dining room takes advantage of the city skyline, with modern interiors fused with Asian twists. The restaurant oozed elegance, with the stylish lamps on the chic sideboards topped with gorgeous fuchsia orchids. Even the table settings were exquisite, with Chinese plates patterned with modern designs creating a beautiful greeting as we sat down at our table.
For my entrée, I enjoyed the Sea Ocean Trout, blackberry, Kalamata olives, mushroom (£17 or AU$28). This dish was absolutely beautiful, presented so immaculately on the plate that it was almost to pretty for me to eat. The trout was slightly smoked, a gorgeous pinkish colour that radiated flavour. Delicious pickled oyster mushrooms were a yummy addition to the deep burgundy sweet blackberry coulis completed with a refreshing sorbet. Gorgeous little edible flowers decorated the dish and made it truly a piece of art!Ting also has a complete vegetarian menu beside its regular menu, from which my friend enjoyed the Sweet Potato Velouté, Belgium endive, pickled onions, chestnuts (£18 or AU$29). The velouté was a golden sweet potato soup, poured by the waiter at the table out of a gleaming silver pot. In the bottom lay a light toffee coloured purée of chestnut alongside the light refreshing greenery of the endive. The velvety smooth texture and accompaniments make this a light entrée to start.
For the mains, the Clay Pot Monkfish, coco bean, mild chorizo, baby vegetables (£30 or AU$49) proved nice but a little underwhelming. The white fish was presented in a hot pot with carrots, baby onions and brussel sprouts, amid a mix of coco beans and chorizo in a light sauce. The fish looked to have been lightly pan fried due to its golden outside, it was cooked nicely, yet seemed to be lacking a little something in terms of flavour profiles.
On the other hand, the Organic Fallow Venison From Rhug Estate, Jerusalem artichoke, wild mushroom, chestnuts (£32 or AU$52) was superb. The meat was cooked perfectly to the juiciest pink medium rare, with a chestnut and Jerusalem artichoke purée pairing with the meat wonderfully. The sautéed mushrooms and beef jus were delightful, and all components of the dish united together wonderfully in the ultimate flavour cohesion.
The Black Forest, Dark or noir cremeux, black cherry sorbet (£13 or AU$21) is the one to order for my fellow chocoholics out there. A decadently rich dark chocolate mousse encases a liquid cherry centre, topped with a thick vanilla bean cremeux and aptly decorated with personalised Shangri-La at the Shard chocolate shards pointing out mimicking the hotel’s structure. The cherry sorbet was intense and sweet, embodying a perfectly smooth texture melting effortlessly on my tastebuds with an abundance of fruity flavour!
As it was still Christmas time, the Christmas menu was available and I opted for a dessert named Our own Christmas Pudding, Gosling dark rum sauce, brandy butter (£13 or AU$21). Bearing a recently acquired new love for Christmas puddings and cakes, I was eager to try the Shangri-La’s take and see how it faired. I love the fruit filled insides and richly sticky texture that characterises these Christmas delicacies and this version certainly delivered with its sweet opulent features.For cheese lovers, a cheese station greets you as you enter with the dessert menu offering Neal’s Yard Selection of British Cheese (£13 or AU$21). I’m sure it has a lot of eyes wandering with enticement as they enter the restaurant each night, providing a tempting allure to many.Returning to our room, the lights below sparkled in the clear evening sky, offering a mesmerising sight of London’s cityscape. When I checked in, the friendly Felix had recommended I sleep with the blinds open, so as to enjoy and make the most of the incredible view, our room looked magical as we went to sleep with the glistening city below. The sun rises quite late during winter in London at around 8am. As light dawned slowly on the room, I bounced up out of bed eager to make the most of the hotel’s impressive gym facilities and watch as the city came alive, as well as earn my breakfast! The gym looks out over the east horizon, providing a captivating view of the sun climbing into the sky.
Having built up an appetite, I set off to the Ting Lounge & Restaurant, to enjoy the amazing breakfast offering. Their Ultimate Breakfast experience allows you to ‘help yourself to the continental buffet, indulge in the choice of one hot dish and side from the menu, accompanied with tea, coffee and juice’ for £34 (AU$55). Considering the extensive array of breakfast items on offer in their buffet and the delicious menu selections, I highly recommend taking this option as the food is phenomenal!
Alternatively, The Continental Breakfast is available for £26 (AU$42) or one can order a la carte, from the widespread collection of sweet and savoury breakfast dishes (£8 – £22 or AU$13- $35) including French Toast, Housemade Granola, Eggs Benedict, Omelettes or the Asian Breakfast.
My table had a glorious view looking over London Bridge, with a relaxing lounge seat. On the way to the buffet I spotted a fully-stocked champagne and Bloody Mary station, filled with Louis Roederer, Veuve Clicquot, Ketel One vodka, tomato juice, celery, Tabasco and other ingredients, to start the day on a bubbly or boozy high.
The variety of items in the buffet was impressive with all the standard items such as cereals, freshly baked pastries, fresh fruit, muesli, yoghurt and more! With a Lebanese background, I especially loved the Middle Eastern aspects of the breakfast with an array of Hommus, Labneh, Muhammara Salad, crudites, fresh lettuce, tomato salad, pesto and dressings.The selection of freshly baked pastries was incredibly tantalising with snails, scrolls, croissants, danishes, muffins and bread, all teasing me! Meanwhile there was also an impressive selection of meats and seafood, with wasabi cured salmon, smoked salmon, ham, turkey, prosciutto, capers, cream cheese and all the perfect accompaniments at hand. I have buffet syndrome, and came back with a wild mix of everything on my plate.For my main meal I opted for the menu item of Buttermilk Waffles with chocolate (£15 a la carte or AU$24) after taking the waitress’ recommendation. I was definitely not disappointed, with a nice golden crunchy outer texture but soft insides, these were absolutely delectable! Not to mention the accompanying rich liquid chocolate sauce, I was in heaven.To keep it healthy, we also chose the Milk Poached Smoked Haddock (£15 a la carte or AU$24) served with poached eggs, spinach and mushroom. I was intrigued to try the haddock as it is not so common in Australia. It was a soft delicate white fish that fell apart easily, however next time I think I’ll stick to smoked salmon when opting for a smoked fish.
Visiting the Shangri-La at the Shard, London is definitely an experience. As the highest hotel in the country with some of the most breathtaking views, it really does make London shine.
Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London
130-132 Tooley St, London, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 20 7234 8000
I Ate My Way Through stayed as guests of Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London