At 306 metres tall, The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe and the Shangri-la Hotel at the Shard London is a 5 star hotel occupying the 34th to 52nd floors. It’s centrally located and very handy for public transport, being built literally on top of London Bridge Station. So what better place to celebrate becoming a British citizen than by spending the night on the 43rd floor, high above the city below!
It took me an hour to get from Heathrow to the Shangri-la Hotel London, a combination of the Heathrow Express and the London Underground depositing me in the arcades under the rail lines. Sign posts directed me towards the Shangri-la hotel entrance. It’s unfortunate that The Shard is such an iconic building – I don’t think anyone actually says that they stay at the Shangri-la – they just say that they’re staying at ‘The Shard’ and everyone knows which hotel they mean.
The entrance looks like any other hotel entrance, except the uniformed gentleman I greeted behind a desk wouldn’t check me in, taking my luggage instead and bidding me to go past him into the building and take the lift to the 35th floor.
In seconds flat I was exiting the lift and instantly confronted with the view from the floor to ceiling windows. The reception faces across the river so that you get views of the City of London with its competing skyscrapers, and goes all the way along from Westminster to Canary Wharf.
I knew I would have all day to check out the view, so I made my way to reception and enquired as to whether my room would be available. The reception was right beside the Ting Restaurant, providing a gentle hubbub of breakfast chatter to bubble behind my questions.
The receptionist checked her computer and allowed that there were two options: I could have a south facing room with a full bath in a few hours, or I could have a city view room with an accessible bathroom without a bath straight away. I smiled and said that I would like the city view straight away if that was alright.
She got me to fill in the form and made up the card keys and directed me to another set of lifts around the corner, near the entrance to the restaurant, and I made my way to the 43rd floor.
The Shard Rooms
A second after entering the dark room, a soft hum of electric motors preceded the automated blinds rising, showing the room’s view of the river and city. I was about inline with the top of the Walkie Talkie building and looking straight up More London Place towards the Armadillo. It was particularly cool given that I used to work along More London, so it was nice to see the old office from a different perspective.
The dramatic unveiling of the view over, I checked out the rest of what the room had to offer. The bed was huge, and tastefully decorated with a blossom mural on the wall behind. On the coffee table in front of the window were some welcome chocolates and a couple of free bottles of water.
A big work desk promised to support your efforts to get some work done, but a small box containing a pair of binoculars undermined that, including a picture guide of the buildings and landmarks you could see.
A big screen TV, coffee machine and mini bar rounded out the obvious features of the room, but on closer inspection, the desk revealed that it had some Shangri-la embossed stationery including postcards, a hatch which revealed connections for the TV, a sliding drawer with glasses and tea amenities and a leather bound compendium.
The closet revealed the usual (iron, ironing board, safe etc), but there were also kimonos (£50 each if you wanted to keep it them) and a weird waist high coat rack sort of thing which was just in front of the window.
Most strange though, was the L shaped alcove in front of the window which inadvertently gave a view into the neighbouring room.
A well appointed sink raised an eyebrow with its in-mirror TV – it wasn’t in front of the toilet, so I could only guess it was for people who wanted to spend a lot of time brushing their teeth and didn’t want to get bored while doing it.
Two robes hung on hooks and a collection of boxes with assorted amenities were arranged artfully in a manner reminiscent of a city skyline of skyscrapers.
An accessible shower sat over a chair in the corner making the whole tiled bathroom a potential shower. The bathroom amenities were L’Occitane which delighted Ange when she arrived later.
My delight was the toilet. They’d gone whole hog and had one of those super toilets with a nozzle which would come out on command to operate as a bidet, and controls for setting where you wanted it to spray, how warm you wanted the seat, and the power and temperature of the bidet water.
The Sky Pool
There was an 11m heated infinity pool. On the 52nd floor. Above London. This we had to see. The Sky Pool is open from 6am to 8pm and has children’s hours between 9am and 11am and then again between 3pm and 5pm, so you can plan your swim accordingly. The door opens automatically when you use your hotel room card and that admits you into a relaxation area separated from the pool itself by a stylish screen.
The pool has tables and couches alongside it with towels spread out, and there’s a cabinet with more towels for you to use and even a buoyancy aid a la Baywatch.
But the pride of place is the pool of course. It’s not incredibly warm, but the views definitely make up for it. Theres also a water station and coffee making facilities if you want to recharge your batteries.
The angles of The Shard’s exterior makes for a commanding view up the train lines which feed into London Bridge and it’s strangely calming watching the caterpillars of the trains bringing thousands of commuters into London Bridge in the morning, or sending them back to the suburbs in the evening.
When it’s day you can get an unsurpassed view of the landmarks of London, but by night if you get sick of the city views, the poolside illuminations remind you that this is a very special spot.
There are a couple of unisex changing rooms on the floor outside the pool area, but annoyingly there are no indications when they are occupied, so we end up rattling the door knob a few times. A few seconds later a couple sheepishly come out. I apologise for disturbing them but they scuttle off leaving us to have a look at the view from the window in the changing room. The changing room has a full on shower and a full set of amenities, great if you want to get changed before returning to your room.
Also on the 52nd floor is the gym, with an impressive array of gear. Theres something about going for a run when you’re that far above the ground level.
I imagine – we didn’t actually get around to using the gym facilities since we were enamoured with the Sky Pool, check out the video.
Pros and Cons
Would I Return?
The cost is the only thing that would stop me from returning to the Shangri-la Hotel at The Shard London. It’s a sumptuous feast of an experience with everything just so. You’d be hard pressed to find a better view in all of London’s hotels, and the staff go the extra mile. The guy at the luggage desk called me by name in the evening, a good twelve hours after checking in!