The new Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, London officially opened this spring in the South Bank, topping out at a jaw-dropping 1,004 feet high. In comparison, the double height windows in the upper lobby are perched at a higher elevation than Big Ben (316 feet) and the London Eye (443 feet).
Designed by star architect Renzo Piano, the Shard is the European Union’s tallest building, with the Shangri-La occupying floors 34 to 52. The view overlooking the Thames and the panoramic splendor of England’s capital from Battersea Park to Canary Wharf is simply staggering. Because The Shard is located in London’s South Bank across the Thames from most of London’s major attractions, that’s the reason why the Shangri-La offers the best meeting room view in Europe.
“Everything is about the view with us,” says Marta Warren, director of communication, while we’re standing 500 feet above bustling London Bridge Station at the foot of The Shard.
Many planners love the location because you’re within walking distance to Tate Modern and what’s considered London’s somewhat more “local” area than the West End.
“Everyone who knows London loves the location,” she says. Warren adds that the massive glass dagger building has been described as a “vertical city” marking London’s official entrance into 21st century urban planning.
“This building is not made with the intention to be aggressive or powerful,” explains Piano in The Guardian. “It is not about priapismo. This building is telling a completely different story. It is celebrating a shift in the idea that growth in a city should not happen by building more and more on the periphery.”
The 202 guest rooms are housed inside the 18 floors immediately above the upper lobby. The north and east facing “Iconic City View” rooms offer the best 180-degree postcard panoramas.
Furnishings are severely subdued with warm earth tones and a hint of Asian motifs, like the delicate cherry blossom and water lily patterns woven into the fabrics. While walking through the guest rooms, quiet hallways paneled in sycamore, and the meeting salons on level 34, there is an all-pervasive sense of calm high above the din of the city.
The meeting space includes one ballroom and two meeting rooms, but you can open the air walls to create one contiguous area able to host 200 pax cocktail-style. With that scenario, groups are surrounded by wraparound, floor-to-ceiling windows resulting in the feeling that you’re floating over London.
In the main restaurant TĪNG, derived from the Chinese word for “living room,” guests are speaking in hushed tones while sipping 30 varieties of teas, or hovering over their Hainanese chicken. Above the guest rooms, an infinity-edge pool on level 52 opens in August. On the same floor, the intimate GŎNG lounge and champagne bar is still under construction.
To access the top viewing platform, you enter the Shard’s 2nd floor welcome center. From there, high-tech elevators speed 20 feet per second up to The View from The Shard at the building’s summit. The indoor/outdoor space is available for private rental.