Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard

London calling.

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From the banquette seats at The Shard’s GŎNG bar, 52 floors above the River Thames, London stretches out as far as the eye can see—an approximate 60 kilometres—presenting an unparalleled vista. From this perch, you can just make out fuzzy riders on the South Bank’s nearby London Eye; at a mere 443 feet, the wheel is dwarfed by the pinnacle of The Shard, a neo-futurism building that, at 1016 feet, is Western Europe’s tallest. Trumpeted as “Europe’s first mixed-use vertical city”, The Shard was designed by master architect Renzo Piano and completed in 2012, its gleaming, glazed façade tapering into the spire through levels 72 to 95 and designed to fade off into the sky. Piercing London’s diverse skyline, the building’s dramatic design was inspired by the city’s vast history, with Piano noting that “the shape of the tower is generous at the bottom and narrow at the top, disappearing in the air like a 16th century pinnacle or the mast top of a very tall ship.”

The destination cocktail and champagne bar GŎNG is just one small, albeit dramatic, aspect of the building. Comprising 30 acres of space, on one small acre of land, The Shard houses viewing galleries, restaurants, 600,000 square feet of upscale offices, and the first United Kingdom location for the Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, on levels 34 through 52. Through opulence, elegance, and Shangri-La’s legendary hospitality (a leather case carrying traditional Chinese welcome tea and elegant china arrives to your room shortly after you do), the 202 guestrooms and suites at the hotel showcase floor-to-ceiling windows, providing the same stunning city views just a few floors beneath GŎNG. Tranquil and seamless marbles and silks are blended deftly with top-tier technology, including automatic climate control systems that complement the building’s integrated sun-shielding construction.

After handcrafted cocktails at GŎNG, dinner at TĪNG will close out the evening fittingly. The hotel’s signature restaurant showcases serene Chinoiserie design married to modern British and Asian cuisine, featuring local English producers and farmers. The wine list, like The Shard’s splintered shape itself, runs deep but is narrow, highlighting numerous international regions with a few well-chosen selections. A racy and crisp bottle of Ridgeview Grosvenor 201 Cuvée Merret from West Sussex goes smashingly well with John Dory, sweet potato, burnt butter, wild mushrooms, and lime, while watching the daylight fade over the meandering river, and beyond, to Sussex, far in the distance.

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Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9QU, United Kingdom, +44 20 7234 8000.

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August 10, 2015