Luxury hotel housed in The Shard, London's iconic skyscraper
Located in a lively neighborhood; close to the London Bridge tube station
Tranquil rooms with resplendent details have individually furnished appeal
Frette linens, Nespresso machines, minibars, and lavish marble bathrooms
Spacious rainfall showers, soaking tubs, and Acqua Di Parma products
Two restaurants and swank bar great for sunset cocktails; 24-hour room service
Infinity pool with expansive views; 24-hour gym
Free morning coffee and tea in the lobby; free water, fruit, coffee, and tea in rooms
Free Wi-Fi, newspapers, and shoe shines
London's West End sights are far
Continental breakfast isn't included
Extremely limited gym equipment
Fees for valet parking
Located inside Renzo Piano's The Shard (the U.K.'s tallest building, completed in 2012) this stellar five-pearl property is bucket list-worthy. The 202 guest rooms have decor that takes cues from nature, styled with luxurious details and fine furnishings. The litany of amenities and features include Frette linens, Nespresso machines, and marble-clad bathrooms with soaking tubs, flat-screen TVs behind vanity mirrors, and Acqua di Parma products. The center of the action is on the 52nd floor, which has dizzying views from the always-packed cocktail bar, fab infinity pool, and restaurant. Spa-goers may be crushed, as the chain's posh CHI spa isn't here, and while the gym is opened 24-hours, it has only six cardio machines. As an alternative, check out the equally highbrow boutique Threadneedles Hotel, located directly across the Thames.
Luxury hotel located high above London in a starchitect's modern masterpiece
To find the epicenter of buzz at the Shangri-La, sail straight past the split-level lobby and make a beeline for the elevators. The sultry interior inside is the first hint of what awaits on the 52nd floor, where doors open to reveal the hotel's foxy cocktail lounge and enticing infinity pool. Design pays homage to opulent Asian-inspired boudoirs. Think: dramatic lighting, embellished fabrics, luxurious rugs, and intimate clusters of low seating. Lacquer room dividers, leather chairs, and velvet throw pillows are done in the same fiery red pigment used for decorative accents in ancient Chinese architecture and design. The all-marble, curved bar counter is eye-catching, as is a long wall adorned with an eclectic collection of drawer pulls, which gives the effect of a massive antique chest one might come across in a Shanghai palace. With the skyline as a backdrop, the pool is downright fetching -- and definitely more for striking a selfie pose than swimming laps. Pool beds and benches with small tables are coveted real estate for people-watching.
On the same level, the hotel's main restaurant is much brighter and more contemporary. Afternoon tea can be served in a section that has elegant, white slipper chairs with black piping, slouchy chocolate brown sofas, and artful silver shaded lamps.
Those in the know book in advance to snag a window seat to watch the sunset, and while the decor is decadent any time of day, the space is at its best at night when London's dazzling skyline takes the stage. Guests are usually a mix of business travelers with generous expense accounts and well-heeled tourists on romantic holidays.
On the South Bank close to the London Bridge tube station; far from the busy, sight-packed West End
Located in Southwark, the hotel is within a 15-minute walk of many South Bank sights, including London Bridge, Tate Modern, and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Borough Market, just five minutes on foot, is packed with London's top purveyors and is a prime spot to grab a variety of eats. It's a two-minute walk to London Bridge tube station to pick up the Northern Line. Plan on a solid hour's drive to and from Heathrow Airport.
Two-minute walk to London Bridge tube station
Five-minute walk to Borough Market
15-minute walk to Tate Modern
12 minutes to Westminster Abbey via tube
13 minutes to London Eye via tube
16 minutes to Trafalgar Square via tube
17 minutes to Tower of London via tube
18 minutes to Buckingham Palace via tube
18 minutes to Piccadilly Circus via tube
20 minutes to British Museum via tube
23 minutes to Notting Hill Gate via tube
60-minute drive to London Heathrow Airport (longer with traffic)
Rich furnishings embellish serene spaces, with amenities that cover all luxury must-haves
The Shangri-La's urban retreats are where London's energized cityscape meets tranquil spaces inspired by nature and exquisite, ultra high-end style. All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with far-reaching views of distant countryside or iconic sights. Rooms start at 322 square feet; suites start at 645 square feet.
Upon entering rooms, eyes are drawn to Cherry tree branches and pearlescent steel blue and plum blossoms etched into honey-colored wood walls. The striking motif flanks beds sheathed in Frette linens, with shantung silk bed skirts and satin braided piping on throw pillows. Attractive velvet-tufted benches are set at the foot and sconces glow like Chinese lanterns above nightstands.
Copious amenities include free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, JBL iPod docks, gourmet minibars, Nespresso machines, electric kettles, and Chinese tea sets. Free coffee pods, tea, water, and fruit are replenished daily. Rooms also have pillow menus, irons and ironing boards, valet stands, safes, free Wi-Fi, and binoculars with viewing guides.
Sleeping areas are exceedingly lovely, but bathrooms are jaw-droppingly lavish. They're marble-clad with vanities so chic they could be stand-ins for bedroom dressers. The bathrooms feature spacious rainfall showers with handheld showerheads, washlet toilets, flat-screen TVs behind mirrors, and heated floors. Caddies span deep soaking tubs to hold bottled water, books, and tubes of generously sized Acqua Di Parma products, and there are terrycloth bathrobes, heated towel racks, and slippers. Extras that make you feel taken care of -- like toothbrushes, shaving cream, loofas, and bowls of bath salts with tiny spoons set on sides of soaking tubs -- are part of the experience.
Upgrading affords separate seating and working areas, better views, higher thread count sheets, upmarket technology equipment, telescopes, and additional product options from Jo Malone, Miller Harris, and Ormonde Jayne. Top-of-the-line suites add crystal glassware, cocktail-making kits, iPads with augmented reality features paired with digital neighborhood guides, and whirlpool tubs.
Chic dining outlets, dreamy pool and bar with incredible views, and small fitness center
The Shard houses several restaurants, and two belong to the Shangri-La: LÁNG and TĪNG. The former is the hotel's deli and cafe, which sells everything from sandwiches to pastries, all available for take-away. The 52nd floor offers panoramic views, and it's where you'll find the hotel's cocktail bar and lounge. There's a 90-minute max time limit for all tables, and it's best to book in advance. Down a narrow hall is the infinity pool, surrounded by tables for drinks and snacks. TĪNG is the hotel's main eatery, offering a la carte menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There's also a continental breakfast, which isn't included in room rates and some guests say service is slow and disorganized. Both the bar and restaurant serve afternoon tea. Room service is available 24 hours.
The pool, also on the 52nd floor, takes the prize for top amenity. The hotel doesn't have Shangri-La's CHI spa, which is a major drawback, although the concierge can book in-room treatments from a third-party vendor. The bright, 24-hour fitness center has city views, but equipment is extremely limited -- with only six cardio machines.
There's laundry service, and freebies of Wi-Fi throughout, newspapers, shoe shines, and morning coffee and tea in the lobby. Guests are charged for valet parking.
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