From my room here at the Shangri-La London, I can see The Thames wind its way both east and west as far as the horizon and most of London is laid out in miniature below me.
I can pick out landmarks including Tower Bridge (almost directly below), London Bridge, St Pauls Cathedral, the Tower of London, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, the tall buildings of the City and Canary Wharf.
The room has a triple aspect, jutting out from this giant shard of glass at a giddying height.
In true Shangri-La style, we’re greeted with a pot of steaming hot jasmine tea and a selection of fruit, chocolate and macarons.
Having just stepped off a long haul flight from Hong Kong I head straight for the shower (hot and strong) before collapsing in a heap on the king size bed and disappearing under the duvet. Bliss. Special mention as well to the Japanese-style toilet with heated seat (aaah) built-in bidet and bottom dryer (sorry – no photo).
Once recovered, its time to frock up and head for the 55th floor to GONG for a glass of sparkling with a view. London is more spectacular at night – all bright lights-big city, with Tower Bridge sparkling in the foreground
Our next stop is the 35th floor to TING for dinner. A 3-course affair with ingredients hand-picked by the chef from nearby Borough Market. Before each course is served our sommelier joins us to suggest a range of wines suitable for our chosen dishes.
With the scallops, an Italian; Joaquin Avellino, like hay and sunshine, perfect with these lightly seared little buttons of buttery goodness.
With my lamb, an Australian Shaw & Smith shiraz and Simon’s monkfish goes perfectly with a Sancerre a Chavignol (despite his usual aversion to white wine).
Our last course – a selection of organic cheese from producers at Borough Market accompanied by a Bordeaux; Chateau le Puy 2009.
The following morning, after watching the sunrise at Ting over breakfast, and inspired by last night’s dinner, I decide to explore this little pocket of London, starting with Borough Market. It’s a 5-minute stroll from the hotel, and to be honest, I could have stayed here all day.
Hot and cold food from all over the world – huge paella pans simmering Indian and Thai curries (and paella of course) and produce ranging from organic goats cheese and French cured meat…
…to pheasants, hares and deer hanging from hooks at the various organic butchers, a wide range of mushrooms…
And a much maligned vegetable: the humble brussel sprout.
There is also great choice of cozy pubs nearby and we choose one to stop at for lunch and a pint before heading off for an exploration of the Thames foreshore. Tower Bridge is a short walk away to the east, London Bridge to the west.
The Tower of London (which appears in miniature in the view from our room) is within easy walking distance and the London Eye, London Dungeons and Sealife Aquarium a short tube ride away.
It’s an incredibly central spot to base yourself for a city break, in an area that has over recent years (well, certainly since I was last here) enjoyed a significant revitalization.
For more information on The Shard, visit the Shangri-La website.