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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

London’s Shangri-La at the Shard is top notch

The tallest building in the European Union sets a very high standard

Sky Lobby, St Paul's view, at the Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London. Courtesy Shangri-La Hotel
Sky Lobby, St Paul's view, at the Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London. Courtesy Shangri-La Hotel

Since opening in May 2014 the Shangri-La hotel, at the top the United Kingdom’s - and EU's - tallest building The Shard, has offered a unique set of panoramic views over London that set it apart for very special occasions, whether personal or corporate.

"We have an extraordinary location just over the Thames from the heart of the City for business above the London Bridge Station, one of the busiest in Europe," says the general manager Paul Brackley. "This part of London has developed a life of its own in recent years."

Even the awful terrorist attack on Borough Market this summer, near the hotel, did not affect business for long, he maintains. So just what does the Shangri-La at The Shard have to offer?

Apart from those incredible wall-to-ceiling, 360-degree views down over Central London, this hotel has 201 minimalist-design, luxury rooms and suites, starting from £575, (Dh2,790) a night, and service that aspires to match the best of Asian standards.

For the finest experience choose one of the 310-metre high hotel’s 17 spacious suites, equipped with every modern convenience as well as butler service.

The signature Westminster, London and Shangri-La suites provides the most spacious accommodation with uninterrupted views across the capital's landmarks. As a guest of the hotel, I found it impossible to take my eye off the views of Tower Bridge, for example, which looks like a toy model from this distance.

If you need to do some work the rooms all feature a large desk with international plugs and complementary high-speed internet. Room service can be arranged from an iPad in the hotel limousine from the airport. Other high-tech gizmos include a Japanese "Toto" toilet, with remote controls, heated seats, and bidet functions.

However, from a business perspective The Shangri-La at the Shard is more about having an address to impress or a place to entertain and inform guests.

The main restaurant Ting is a great place to entertain with modern British nouvelle cuisine and, of course, always those amazing views down over the vibrant centre of Europe’s largest city.

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But decend the staircase from the reception on level 35 and you will find an entire floor dedicated to meetings, presentations and small conferences.

Ren is the largest private room with a reception area for up to 140 guests looking towards the river Thames and the City of London; or book Li for a group dinner of up to 30 guests with its view down on London Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Finally, the most popular venue is Yi, a boardroom for 12 or place for a private dinner for 15 with its extraordinary corner views over the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

There is one more impressive space for company events - Gong, the highest bar in western Europe, on the 52nd floor. It is next door to the 11x4 metre indoor swimming pool and the two can be linked to create a large reception area; the fully equipped gym is next door.

Actually, for more down-to-earth business meetings I liked the reception lounge area which does a typical afternoon tea, still with those floor-to-ceiling panoramic views.

Could this hotel be faulted? Well one of the two main lifts broke down during our stay and we used a back elevator a few times, which was not great, and the air-conditioning seemed a tad warm in the reception area at one stage. Technical gremlins.

Then again the kitchen running out of muffins towards the end of the breakfast service and a bit of a struggle to handle late arrivals seemed a little less easy to forgive.

However, I could not help but marvel at the unique architecture of this hotel, literally a super-tall shard of glass piercing the London sky.

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