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Amongst the throng of bustling Borough Market, a gleaming pillar of glass and steel rises above all else to dominate this corner of London. One is never far from this sharp statement of modernity, the tallest building in western Europe, and visible across the city. This Renzo Piano designed masterpiece is now firmly part of the iconic London skyline.
Up close, one cannot help but look up at its angles and reflections which change on a daily basis. Drawing near the Shangri-La, the sense of anticipation builds, whilst overcoming an array of street level distractions from stationary tourists, bicycles and street vendors. The entrance is unassuming, and one is greeted by an expansive reception area with a run of lifts, giving no hint to what lies above. The unique nature of the hotel is that guests enter an anti-chamber of sorts at ground floor level before being ferried up to the 34th floor where the main reception is located. The lift is swift, quiet and amazingly quick to ascend all 34 floors. The doors open and the full panorama becomes apparent. Eyes dart in all directions, seeking desperately to take in all facets of this extraordinary view at once, which is of course a futile endeavour. The principal reception is spread on a single level with a range of low level seating areas and function spaces. The check-in process is effortless and soon you are led to your suite by the incredibly professional and friendly staff, a gentle reminder of the Shangri-La experience. The corner rooms offer the best dual aspect of the London skyline. On arrival to your suite, you are greeted by a traditional eastern tea set, a subtle hint of the Chinese heritage of the Shangri-La brand.
The hotel offers a range of services and facilities that make the detachment process effortlessly easy. The Shangri-La’s infinity pool is certainly Instagram friendly, and there are the usual services, from butlers to concierges to spa treatments, as one would expect in a five-star hotel. The Gong Bar at level 52 is the perfect spot for sundowners, having unrivalled views over London.
A stay at the Shangri-La Shard is an experience and is certainly no ordinary hotel. It seems a disservice to say the hotel is all about the view, but it kind of is. Naturally, there are the luxuries and refineries associated with a stay at a premium brand such as the Shangri-La, however the five star market in Central London is somewhat crowded these days, so it often comes down to what makes a hotel unique, and the Shangri-La Shard certainly has that in abundance.
The suites are luxurious and comfortably furnished as one would expect with a Shangri-La experience. They have been designed to both maximise and complement the principal attraction which lies beyond the window panes to the extraordinary panorama beyond. Throughout the day are new experiences to draw you to the view, the early morning light, sunset and the glittering cityscape at night all provide unique perspectives of this city, which even the life long Londoner would find fresh and new. A stay at the Shangri-La Shard is certainly unique and creates a sense of detachment from reality. Watching the ants below at street level scurrying at break neck speed, and the suburban commuter trains snaking their way through the jostling buildings, one is reminded that a certain level of detachment from the everyday stresses of modern life is hugely rewarding. What is more rewarding still, is the ability to have this level of escape in Central London.