A staycation at the Shard? Ampersand’s MD, James Jayasundera reports back on his 1 night-long holiday in the sky
Last Friday I spent a night at the Shangri-La at The Shard in London. I loved it!
Few things are less necessary than staying in a hotel in your own city therefore it felt like a deliciously indulgent way to celebrate a special anniversary.
It took me 3 minutes to pack an overnight bag, 40 seconds to hail a cab and in less than 25 minutes we were in our room on the 45th floor. No queuing, security checks, cramped flights or passport control. I have always felt that being on holiday was a state of mind rather than a location and this was certainly the fastest I had switched from serious work mode to one of complete holiday exhilaration in under 30 minutes.
The Shangri- La’s interiors were sharp and shiny but paled into insignificance when compared to the dazzling and mesmerising views. A staggering view is always a wonderful thing but this was different; unlike views from the Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, New York’s Empire State Building or Tokyo Sky Tree – which I had enjoyed as a tourist – here I had a deep connection with so much of it. My home for 20 years, this was the first time I had seen London laid out floor-to-ceiling at my feet looking very different in one huge jaw dropping view. I was transfixed – and the more I looked, the more fascinating it became. I suddenly understood how the Thames twists through the city and how the different parts of the city are positioned with respect to one another. It felt like flying with a bird’s eye view of the boats and barges whizzing up and down the Thames, and I could see trains, buses and cars crossing five different bridges in one eyeful. The view was so big yet everything looked so small and it kept on changing as the day drew to an end, the sky turned black and the city began to glow.
We left the blinds open that night – the view of the city was too strong a draw to block out with the electric blinds. After hours as a spectator we re-joined the city and took a midnight walk along the Thames marvelling at London’s evolving skyline: the new Walkie talkie and Cheese grater, the HMS Belfast, the remarkable Tower Bridge and, once we had gained enough distance, the glowing Shard itself.
It was a truly fantastic experience which I would recommend to everybody but those who know, love and live in London would certainly get the most out of it.
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Shangri-La @ The Shard, London – Fast Facts:
The hotel will have 261 rooms and suites spread from the 35 to the 5st floor. Fifty-nine are currently open, with another 202 still to come. Rooms are priced by aspect; the cheapest, at £450, buys you southerly views; the most expensive, at £600, buys you triple-aspect, 180-degree views of all the great landmarks definitely worth the extra.
The coffee shop, Lang, is on the ground floor, the restaurant, Ting, is on the 35th floor and the bar, Gong, is on the 52nd floor (it is the highest bar in Europe). The restaurant and bar need to be booked in advance even if you are a guest of the hotel.
The swimming pool will open later this summer and, together with the gym, is located on the 52nd floor. There is currently no spa but massages can be arranged in your room.
Don’t let people dissuade you staying by saying that you can simply visit the public viewing galleries on floors 68, 69 and 72 for a fraction of the price. They are wrong. The views from “The View” are too distant and less comprehensible than from the hotel. Secondly, by staying at The Shard you can enjoy the views at leisure – by night and by day – and keep returning to them over and over again, which you will definitely want to do.