Every major city from Toronto to Tokyo has its share of castles in the sky, towering hotels offering panoramic views. But waking up to the sun rising over the Square Mile – the Gherkin and the Cheese Grater rising out of the morning fog – must be among the most impressive.
My room was on the 49th floor, which means it’s among the smallest thanks to the shape of the building. It gives the rooms a cocoon-like quality, as if you’re floating in an airborne amniotic pod, sheltered from the noise and the sharp edges of the outside world. The views are so striking it’s almost as if the floor-to-ceiling windows are projections of computer-generated images. You can even enjoy them when you’re on the toilet, which is positioned a few feet away from a window that drops a sheer 250 metres below.
The décor is a kind of refined neutral. Nothing really stands out but everything fits. It’s neat and pleasant and not in the slightest bit adventurous. Shangri-La has mastered this brand of innocuous luxury; a swirly carpet here and a painting of a flower there. And, really, you can’t blame them for not taking a risk: the views are the draw, not the interior design.
The shape of the building leads to an interesting quirk; stand on one side of your room and your window looks into the suite next door. You can imagine a few racy encounters between bored international guests, although all I could see was a man typing on his laptop. The blinds – all centrally controlled – can be activated separately on the offending side of the room for when you want to ensure absolute privacy.
We’ve already given the food in the restaurant a glowing review, although I discovered the “lounge” menu lags a fair bit behind. But who cares? Those views... Bring your lover, just remember to shut the blinds.
Shangri-La at The Shard (020 7234 8088; shangri-la.com/london). Double rooms from £450, or “Room With A View” packages from £530 for two including breakfast and tickets for The View from The Shard.