Undoubtably the best views from a hotel, ever | Shangri-la hotel & TĪNG at The Shard | 31 St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9QU
Staying the night in the Shangri-la at the Shard – the UK’s first elevated hotel was only ever going to be incredible. The Shard is one of our favourite buildings, despite my doubts about it when it first starting springing up and resembled a toilet brush rather than the shiny, striking and iconic building we see today. It’s everywhere we go and a beacon for home, if we’re ever lost we head towards it for a train to Kent from London Bridge station. I gaze at it every day out of my office window, you might say I have a strong attachment/borderline obsession with it, which is quite odd seeing as I also have an irrational fear of tall buildings.
The initial great thing about the Shangri-la is the smell. As you enter the lobby a waft of spa engulfs you (although there isn’t an actual spa) – I must find out if this ‘Shangri-La Essence’ is available to buy. Our Iconic City View room (on average £590 per room, per night) was on the 47th floor and drew gasps and wows from Ade and I as we set foot inside. We knew that the views would be good, we’ve visited the View From The Shard, and dined window-side at Aqua and Hutong but when London’s amazing skyline is seen from a bedroom it adds a whole new level of wonder. We’ve stayed in hotels with great sights, from LA to Thailand, but they didn’t have a hope in hell of topping this.
We had everything in the room that we could possibly need, and I mean everything. A welcome chocolate bowl of macarons and sweets from the downstairs patisserie LÁNG. Not just white fluffy robes but kimonos too, a marble-clad bathroom with Acqua di Parma toiletries and heated flooring plus a TV screen INSIDE the mirror in the bathroom. The most fascinating feature of them all was the toilet that comes with its own remote for deodorising and seat warming. Despite both of our best efforts we couldn’t get ours to do anything, apart from making an alarming looking tube come whirring out when you turn the light off. Being unable to work the loo is not the kind of thing you want to call reception about.
We managed to drag ourselves away from our room for dinner in TĪNG – the hotel’s restaurant that offers European food with an Asian twist, headed up by executive chef Emil Minev. In keeping with the rest of the hotel TĪNG oozed calm. Our table had a prime spot in the centre of the room on a little sofa and a cute little stool for my handbag. Despite the restaurant being quiet it took a while for us to be acknowledged and to be offered a drink and menu. It was the first time we have ever actually asked to see a sommelier and he was too busy. Although he did end up suggesting a bottle of Chorey Les Beaune, Domaine Tollot Beaut, 2009 £50 to our waiter, which was just the kind of light, refreshing wine we were after.
Things looked up when the food arrived. My starter of Hand dived scallops £18 with heritage carrots, ginger, mandarin and coriander was beautiful – plump and earthy scallops perfectly cooked with punchy mandarin striking the perfect balance. Ade’s Risotto with Highland langoustine, fresh chorizo, smoked paprika and parmesan £18 wasn’t overwhelmingly cheesy with plenty of robust chorizo giving a rich flavour offset by the langoustine .
I did something I rarely do and had fish for my main also. Monkfish, teriyaki, green spring vegetable, citruses, lemon balm £28. The waiter remarked that 80% of women order fish whilsh 80% of men order the steak/pork (so stereotypical, and so not me). It was a lovely dish but after taking a bite of Ade’s Piglet – spice roasted, endives, pineapple and vanilla £22, I wished I had gone down the meat route. The pork had such a perfect thin layer of crackling and a beautiful hint of vanilla in the coarse apple sauce. Sides of Creamy mashed potato £4 and Sauteed seasonal vegetables £4 arrived late so almost counted as a second course. The quality and colourful array helped us forgive them.
The Dark Chocolate with griotte cherries, pistachio, vanilla ice cream £8 was calling out to Ade for dessert. I can never resist a Panna cotta £8. TĪNG’s version was unusually short and flat with strawberry compote, meringues and strawberry sorbet. The food really was faultless, the presentation beautiful, just a shame it’s so expensive. The dress code stated it was smart/casual, although we saw everything from cocktail dresses (with ample side-boob) to tracksuits worn with trainers.
We nipped up to GŎNG a few floors up for a nightcap after dinner, but it was a busy Friday night and there was sadly no room at the inn. We thought we found a slot at the bar but a couple had just abandoned their almost empty drinks to look at the pool. The barman told us to move and stand at the side of the bar, if we’re going to pay £17 for a cocktail we want to sit down and drink it. We headed back to our room instead and climbed under the covers in our extremely comfy bed draped in Frette linen, sleeping with the blinds open to soak up the ever changing views.
By the way, I know you’ve been wondering, you can see into other people’s rooms, well you can, but only if you don’t shut the side blinds and peer around the corner like a weirdo. I barely slept at all because I couldn’t stop looking out the window, this is extremely rare for me, I adore my sleep and the room has to be dark. Finally at 5am as the sun came up and London started coming to life, I leant over and switched the blinds on creating a pitch black room instead and some much needed sleep. This was after taking a photo of course, it was a such a stunning sight that took my breath away.
Breakfast was back in TĪNG the following morning – buffet style tables of fruit, cereal, cheese, pastries and yoghurts are scattered throughout the room so no scrum or queues. The hot buffet included dim sum and an a la carte menu offered everything from waffles to an Arabic breakfast. We love breakfast in a hotel and this has to be one of the best we’ve had in this country.
A stay in the Shangri-la wouldn’t be complete without a swim in the sky pool on 52nd floor next to GŎNG. It’s a pretty special feeling to be swimming inside the Shard, from the positioning of the pool we could see our day job office, what a juxtaposition. I did my best to put my fears of the whole thing coming crashing down to the back of my mind, I’m sure it’s totally safe.
We went back for yet more chilling in our room as we had the luxury of a late check out of 2pm before we heading to Maltby Street market. I did my best to ensure I appreciated each second we had left and used every single piece of equipment in the room. From the Nespresso machine, magazine and drink stand in the bath, the super-sharp binoculars and the in-room iPad, even though we bought ours with us, not even the Shard can tear Ade away from his Clash of Clans game. As I laid on the bed staring out across London sadly counting the minutes until we had to leave, I felt the biggest twang of appreciation for this city, for life and all the incredible things there are out there to experience. I defy anyone not to enjoy a night in the Shard, it was truly one of the most magical places I have ever laid my head, and undoubtably ever will.
Ting opening hours: Seven days a week, 365 days a year
Breakfast: 6.30am – 10.30am. Lunch: 12noon – 2.30pm. Dinner: 6pm – 11.30pm
Tīng lounge breakfast: 6.30am – 10.30am
All-day dining: 12noon – 11.30pm
Afternoon Tea: 2pm – 6.30pm (Monday – Friday)
11.30am – 6.30pm (Saturday and Sunday)
Nearest station: London Bridge (2 mins walk)
We stayed as guests of the Shangri-la and TĪNG, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.