Americans thinking of a splurge stay in London might first focus on hotels of mahogany, brass, leather and old paint. Understandable. England does historic luxury pretty dang well. But in our recent travels my daughter and I stayed at the Shangri-La at the Shard, and there’s a good case to be made for skyscraper hospitality.
Even in the city of Today’s Most Famous Queen.
The Shangri-La’s got a nice intimate modern lobby. No milling throngs, as you might find at the Savoy, for example. Tourists visiting the top of the Shard for viewing use a separate entrance, a visit which for whatever reason we never made. The clerk at the front desk will send you to the elevators, and you’ll check in on the 35th floor. The rooms are to be found on floors 35-52, we stayed on the 47th.
In many fancy hotel rooms, the first thing one does is pat the bed linens, or ooh and ah at furnishings and fixtures. Not here. You are going to want to take a picture.
From the Deluxe City View rooms, to which we were upgraded, here’s what you’ll see.
No I am not kidding. Looks like a Dutch painting, almost. And for some odd reason, not vertigo-producing, which as one not good with heights, I had feared.
We stayed at the Shangri-La because Significant Husband does significant business travel, which generates a lot of Shangri-La loyalty points. Thank you Significant Husband, I’d rather have you by my side than a view, but it does lessen the sting.
Eventually one’s thoughts will turn to sleep, especially in light of a 10-hour flight in Economy Plus. One will be not disappointed. My daughter and I often share a bed when we travel, this one was big and fluffy. And yes, reaching out to hold her arm as I drift off is immeasurably sweet.
Do not worry that the view has disappeared with the sun. It’s still out there. The London Eye was blue that night.
The rest of the hotel is modern, but not coldly so, and luxe, but not too gaudy. I suppose I could do with less marble, but I suppose nobody is listening to me. (One note for the long of hair, watch out for the shower, the step-down is shallow and if the drains get slow water leaks onto the bathroom floor.)
Eventually you’ll leave your room. Yes that hallway is blurry in the photo. No in real life it’s not. And you’re going to want it to be navigable, because you should get the breakfast package and eat at Ting in the mornings. Wonderful waitstaff, brilliant service, and yes, a view, albeit south instead of north.
They put out the usual pastries, yogurt, and fruit for the buffet, as well as a hot breakfast that includes eggs and dim sum. The Shangri-La’s Asian heritage in evidence, as befits cosmopolitan London of 2014.
And nobody cast a disparaging eye at my purple sweatshirt, so, bonus points. Nor did they sigh when I ordered the 6th gallon of tea our first morning. The second day we showed up, they brought me a pot without being reminded. I loved that.
I also loved staying on the South Bank, amongst people going to work. For one thing, the Borough Market is right nearby for lunch as you return to the hotel after a morning’s sightseeing. This allows you to feel all frugal, kind of like a sale at Neiman Marcus but hey. Crossing London Bridge, which one does if one walks a lot, you enter the City of London, its financial center. Not picturesque, but there’s sufficient awesome and quaint to be found elsewhere in the city, and I enjoyed the more binary thrum of modern commerce.
Finally for those who cannot leave their room, entranced by the view as though it were Morgan le Fay, there’s fruit.
Which might not be your first priority, but is lovely when jet lag or strikes, or you just want to put some food in your mouth that nobody has sauced, fried, or seasoned. Even those of us who love luxury occasionally just want a simple green grape.
BTW, the rumored peeking into your neighbor’s room? Not apparent, I guess I’d have had to climb over the corner desk and plaster myself against the window with craned neck? It’s an absolutely lovely place, that became part of the fabric of our stay in the way that memorable hotels will.
Bottom line seems to be about $400/night, but you may do better on TripAdvisor. Links may generate commissions.