Ampersand's Travels...

A staycation at the Shard? Ampersand’s MD, James Jayasundera thoroughly enjoyed his one night-long holiday in the sky

Last Friday I spent a night at the Shangri-La at The Shard. I completely and utterly loved it!  

Few things are less necessary than staying in a hotel in your own city when you have perfectly good home. This therefore was a total indulgence and a fitting way to celebrate a special anniversary.

It took 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. Less than half an hour of leaving home I had reached my destination and the city that I am so familiar with lay hundreds of feet beneath my feet looking very different in one huge jaw dropping view.

I have always felt that being on holiday was a state of mind rather than a location and this was certainly the fastest I have switched from work mode to total delight and exhilaration.

A staggering view is always a wonderful thing but this was different; unlike views from the Burj Khalifa, 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 in one huge 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 each other.

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 black out with the electric blinds. After hours as a spectator we re-joined the view and took a night 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 especially to those who love, know and live in London as they would certainly get the most out of it.

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.