Sophisticated Shangri-La Hotel in The Shard really has the wow factor
Two words sum up the biggest wow factor about this hotel - the view. Rising 1,016ft above London, with 11,000 glass panels, The Shard is officially the tallest building in the UK and in western Europe.
Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London, is located on the 34th to 52nd floors of the tower and therefore offers the best views from any hotel in the city with 360-degree vistas of the capital from just about everywhere.
Take a dip in the top-floor infinity pool (also the highest swimming pool in western Europe apparently) to savour the experience.
You can pick out all the landmarks including the River Thames straight down below, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, the London Eye, St Paul's, Canary Wharf and so on.
I have stayed in a Shangri-La hotel before, in Paris, and have always been astounded by what this hospitality group offers above all others in terms of an unrivalled luxury experience.
Their 202 room and suite London hotel ticks all the boxes and should be one for your bucket list.
As soon as you walk through the door of your bedroom the view will obviously catch your attention first, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. There are a pair of binoculars on the table if you want a closer look at the world below.
No wonder the Shangri-La is so popular on New Year's Eve when the fireworks are set off on the banks of the Thames.
After the view you will quickly notice how super sleek the rooms are. The beds are extremely comfortable with their luxury mattresses and fluffy pillows. If only I could replicate that sleep every night!
As you are in the clouds you won't be woken by any sounds outside and the morning sunshine won't be able to creep through the heavy electric operated blinds until you decide to open them.
The marble bathroom also has the wow factor with its free-standing bath. You can sit back and relax with those views or watch TV on the bathroom mirror. In the mornings you may want to pull the curtain across though to avoid window cleaning time. Luckily I wasn't in the bath but was lying (fully clothed I would stress!) on the bed with all the curtains open when I suddenly realised two window cleaners were working away on the window in front of me.
The bathrooms have heated floors, Japanese toilets (heated seats and built in bidet included), rain shower and come fully stocked with L'Occitane toiletries.
The Shangri-La brand's signature Asian-inspired decor is evident throughout the rooms and the hotel. Expect orchids, herons, sliding doors and golden bamboo trees.
If you really want to treat yourself you could book into one of their signature suites which come with a 24-hour personal butler service.
We had dinner in the hotel restaurant which specialises in European food with an Asian twist called Ting, derived from the Chinese word for living room.
For starters I had the Dorset crab which was served with cucumber and small slices of Granny Smith apple. It was a perfectly balanced dish which went down a treat.
Next up for mains was the intriguing sounding Sussex Dairy Cow which turned out to be one the best cooked, most succulent pieces of beef I have ever tasted, served with some very moreish anchovy ketchup and grelot onion.
My other half enjoyed the Cotswolds chicken breast with Alsace bacon, baby gem lettuce and broad beans. We were stuffed but managed to share a dessert of chocolate ganache. Again the food was all faultless as was the breakfast the next day.
After dinner we enjoyed some fantastic cocktails in the highest champagne bar in western Europe - Gong. It has an extremely impressive menu of themed cocktails and was a hive of activity when we were there.
I can recommend the Gong Cola with its oaky texture and coffee and caramel notes which comes served in quirky cola bottles. This cocktail comprises of Pisco Quebranta, Barolo Chinato, Caramel, CO2, Rinomato Americano, Porter Beer and Vermouth Di Torino.
Gong also serves afternoon tea which is extremely popular thanks to its location on the 52nd floor of The Shard.
We enjoyed brekkie in our room to savour the morning views but you have a choice of a buffet or a la carte with western and Asian dishes including cooked English breakfast, dim sum and wok fried noodles, fruits, yoghurts and cereals, fresh juices, pastries, meats and cheeses. Other a la carte options include eggs cooked to your liking, French toast and pancakes. We went for eggs and pancakes and they were superb.
With a brand like Shangri-La, you expect top quality food and top quality service and they deliver on all scores and the location is just perfect.
Set between Borough Market and Bermondsey Street, the hotel is in the centre of London's hottest dining scene, combining casual street food and high-end restaurants. So if you venture out to dine expect to be overwhelmed by eating options.
Situated at the base of The Shard at No 31 St Thomas Street, BAR 31 provides an eclectic selection of local craft beers, affordable wines and Champagnes, alongside a seasonal menu created from fresh local ingredients. Artwork showcases the surrounding community, while local musicians perform in the bar.
With Borough Market, London's oldest food market, you have a great selection of stalls offering cuisine from across the world. Many are helmed by the artisan producers themselves, who offer tastings and fascinating stories. Products range from the best British cured meats at Cannon & Cannon to melt-in-your-mouth handmade fudge at Whirld Fudge and doughnuts at Bread Ahead.
Or if you like beer the Bermondsey beer mile runs just outside the hotel which includes nine artisan breweries, tap rooms and distilleries, reflecting the area's position at the forefront of London's beer-making scene.
As The Shard is next door to London Bridge tube and train station you can venture anywhere in the city with the Oxford Street shops, Buckingham Palace and other attractions short journeys away.
But trust me when I say you could easily spend hours just looking out the window with your head in the clouds.
Starting price for a superior room at the Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, is £489 per night.
To book your stay or for more information visit www.shangri-la.com/london
31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9QU
Phone: 020 7234 8000