‘Let’s go fly a kite’ is my favourite song in the musical for its remarkable jollity; as a child, I would imagine what fun it would be to be a kite, dancing among the iconic landmarks of London and seeing the city from great heights. Those lyrics:
‘with tuppence for paper and strings,
you can have your own set of wings.
With your feet on the ground,
you’re a bird in flight…’
Shangri-La The Shard is the first and only UK property from the Chinese based international hotel group. Not only is it located in the tallest building in the capital, but also in the UK. The rooms have floor to ceiling windows and provide panoramic views of London. A well-stocked mini-bar, Nespresso machine and a great selection of teas and a teapot complement the L’Occitane amenities and there are also two bottles of water, along with a note informing me that should I require a refill, I will be charged £20. This seems a grossly excessive sum for water that is filtered (according to the note) on the premises.
Many hotels in London provide information about the city in the room, as well as books, pictures etc to create a sense of place, but here, there isn’t any need. The exceptional views speak for themselves and, from these, the sense of being in London is constantly reinforced. A nice touch is a box on the desk containing binoculars, complete with a numbered map, detailing the landmarks visible from the room. The personalised messages: ‘Sweet Dreams Among the Clouds’ written on the window as well as ‘You’re Fabulous’ which is transcribed on the mirror are not just a nice touch, but positive and uplifting!
The rooftop pool (the Sky Pool) on the 52nd floor is just 10 metres long, and swimming here is utter bliss. The views are simply out of this world and there is an exceptionally attentive pool attendant on hand to dole out warm, fluffy towels. At one end, there is a tea station stocked with a huge variety of herbal teas. Infused water and fresh fruit are available too.
There isn’t a spa as such. Shangri-La has transformed two rooms into dedicated treatment rooms however called Wellness in the Clouds, which are well-designed, and they have collaborated with London brand, Neal’s Yard Remedies. I use Neal’s Yard Remedies aromatherapy oils and lotions at home as I love the brand’s ethos and that they are wholly organic.
A pet bugbear of mine is treatments that are formulaic, where the therapist must follow a given set of practices imposed by a brand to ensure any treatment is uniformly delivered. No such worries at Shangri-La; my treatment here was utterly personalised.
I was able to discuss my concerns and areas that need attention with the therapist (because nobody knows your body as you do) and, based on this, she expertly freed the tension in my shoulders, neck and head and transformed these areas from tight and taut into loose and relaxed. Divine. This personalised treatment delivered outstanding results from which I was still reaping the benefits several days later.
No visit to Shangri-La The Shard would be complete without a visit to GŎNG. This is the highest bar in Western Europe and, if possible, exceeds the anticipation. A bustling bar with an upbeat vibe where the service is slick yet focussed. London by night is nothing short of magical and, seen from GŎNG bar, the city twinkles, and sparkles. Those famous landmarks are lit up in all their glory. This is the perfect bar for pre-dinner drinks and to soak up the vivacious atmosphere.
TĪNG Restaurant, located on the 35th floor, just one level up from my room, has a name derived from the Mandarin word for ‘Living Room’. Here the service is taken beyond the merely exceptional. Our waiter was utterly outstanding, and his knowledge of the menu was remarkable. Not only did he take the time to ascertain what we liked and what we were drawn to, but he was able to direct us to try different dishes. All that mattered was our preference and our palate.
Each dish that arrived in front of us was outrageously good, (the venison, in particular, was extraordinary and simply melted in the mouth – it still haunts my dreams!) and we took advice from the sommelier who provided matching wines, many of which were Japanese.
A sommelier’s first duty of course is to provide guidance and expertise when suggesting wines, but this individual’s knowledge was staggeringly deep, wide and detailed. An expertly made espresso martini was our unconventional but rich and decadent choice of nightcap sipped in the lounge area of TĪNG, all the while mesmerised by the view below.
TĪNG is also where breakfast is served. With little room from the delectable dinner the previous evening, I unadventurously chose a croissant and a coffee for breakfast. Yet these items, as humble as they are, were delicious. There is an extensive menu that includes Asian items including congee and plant-based dishes too, if you have the capacity and the sense of adventure.
Mahatma Gandhi famously said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ For those who wish to indulge their inner kite, dance, and celebrate life among the clouds, up through the atmosphere, high above London, Shangri-La The Shard is the place to do so.