A Weekend at The Shard, London

We have stayed in central London many times and often paid extortionate onsite hotel parking. I didn’t even consider parking at The Shard and have no idea of the charge. We decided to use http://www.justPark.com and very easily found off road private parking a couple of minutes drive off the M1 in Brent Cross. Parking from 12noon Friday to 3pm Sunday was a very reasonable £23. Two minutes walk from Brent Cross tube station provides a direct tube line to Tower bridge – the closest station to the Shard and made life so much easier.

We didn’t book direct through the hotel, prices were significantly higher, instead opting for a third party booking service. I emailed prior to our arrival to confirm check in arrangements and was informed that check in wasn’t until 3pm, however they would happily look after our bags if we wanted to explore before check in time. This seemed like a good use of the day so we rocked up at the hotel around 11.30 and checked in – the helpful receptionist took our contact number then they could ring us as soon as the room was available. One thing we were offered was to check into a room that was ready and I overheard this option offered to other guests a couple of times over the weekend. Bear this in mind as you run the risk of taking a less spectacular room if you take up this offer. If you are aware of the buildings global positioning and the room numberings you can quickly figure out which rooms have the better view. For reference any room other than south aspect will give you breath taking city views.

The View from The Shard

The hotel is situated from the 35th – 52nd floor of the Shard, there is a restaurant Ting at level 35, the bar Gong at level 52 as well as an infinity pool, gym and then rooms and suites in between.

Another point to consider is that the hotel doesn’t release all their rooms straight away they hold a handful back until nearer the date, this also applies for reservations at the restaurant. Ting restaurant was fully booked when we made the room reservation months earlier, however we managed to get a table on the day.

When you arrive at the shard, just look up and see how tall it really is. The doormen wore their Russian winter hats and were very polite and attentive with constant smiles on their faces despite me rocking up in my skinny jeans and well worn Converse’. I was initially surprised at the high level of security, your bags will be X-rayed on arrival but even the security man was politeness personified. As guested you are ushered away into guest only lifts away from the hustle of the tourists experiencing the ‘View from the Shard’.

The lift from the ground floor took literally seconds to take us up the 35 floors. When the lift doors open in the main lobby you are greeted by the most breathtaking views of London and it is those views that will remain with you for the entire duration of your stay.

After a very quick and slick check in – and the reserving of £200 per night on your credit card for additional expenses we were shown up to our room which was out of this world. we booked an Iconic City View room, and must I say the view was amazing! The room had views of St Paul’s cathedral, London Eye, London Bridge, BT tower and even Wembley Stadium from the distance. We basically could see the whole of north and west London and the wonderful River Thames. It was definitely a city view. Window Shutters lifted as we entered our room to show the beautiful skyline of London, with warm jasmine tea to welcome us.

A review is not a review without some critical analysis and while I struggled, other than not being able to afford to go back for a few months I would like to share a few very minor points.

Breakfast in the Ting restaurant was very average for a 5 star hotel – with very little choice and on both days we waited ten minutes for the popular breakfast dishes to be replenished. The staff were at times irritatingly attentive taking plates and dishes away before you had even finished your mouthful, a pet hate of mine.

I used the gymnasium on both mornings of our stay which was open 24 hours. On both occasions I was the only person in there. The equipment was high quality and new and again breathtaking views

IMG_0327-1

On the first evening we popped into the Gong, the stylish bar located on the 52nd floor, unfortunately nobody informed us we needed to book and we were unable to get in whether we were residents or not, which was a little perturbing, it was heaving – a real party atmosphere, music, low lighting but like everywhere in the hotel, the real focus was the view – the view from the Shard during the day is beautiful, the view from the Shard at night is stunning.

We went to TĪNG – the main restaurant for our evening meal on our first night. The restaurant has fantastic tables by the windows where you are seated at a slant to make the most of the view – you really don’t get tired of it. Obviously I had already checked out the menu and knew what I was going to eat. The food is modern European with subtle Asian influences using locally sourced ingredients. TĪNG is the Chinese word for ‘living room’, and this restaurant is 35 floors above ground level. Another point, you must visit the toilets, trust me on that one.

If you’re on a budget it might be worth checking out alternative local, and very good restraints as TĪNG is not cheap and nor is the wine, however a must do just once. We ate out locally on our second night and had equally good food and wine at half the price, but without the view. Would recommend the Wool Pack pub for its lively atmosphere and Village East restaurant for very good food and cool crowd (book in advance at weekends) on Bermondsey Street – 5 minutes walk from the Shard.

Heading out of the Shard for a meal allows you to see the exterior of the Shard which from the outside looks unremarkable, until you look upwards, about 306 metres upwards, to see the pinnacle of the Shard, a mesmerising glass structure by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and the tallest building in the European Union. There is also the hustle and bustle of Borough Market within spitting distance and also another decent pub en route, the Bunch of Grapes is worth a visit.

There are too many highs to capture, but to name a few: The quality of the furniture and fixtures, the binoculars in the room, the oversized bed, the complementary Nespresso Machine in the room, the huge bathroom with the TV embedded in the mirror, the views, the gym, the infinity pool, his and her Kimono’s, the mini bar and the epitome of opulence……the heated toilet seat.

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