When The Shard first opened up in London in 2013, I wanted to visit it. And when the Shangri-La brand of luxury hotels opened a hotel inside The Shard in 2014, I knew I wanted to stay there.
Now, I’m by no means a luxury traveler. When I first started traveling, I was very much a budget traveler, staying in hostels, Airbnb rooms, and cheap hotels as much as possible. And even though my travel style has evolved as I’ve gotten older, I still would not consider myself a “luxury” traveler.
While I may be willing to spend more money on direct flights and nicer hotels for both comfort and convenience these days, never have I spent more than $1000 a night on a hotel room – until I stayed at Shangri-La The Shard.
The Shard is a modern skyscraper located at the southern end of London Bridge in the Southwark part of the South Bank. It’s triangular in shape, with an intentionally jagged-looking top that looks like shards of glass. The 72-story skyscraper was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, and is currently the tallest building in the UK.
The Shangri-La hotel is just one of many things calling The Shard home. The building also has office space, a few restaurants (Aqua Shard is great for a themed afternoon tea in London!), and an observation deck called View From the Shard.
The Shard is also close to the Borough Market, and within walking distance of other famous London sites like Tower Bridge and Shakespeare’s Globe. So it really does make a good base in central London.
But is the hotel actually worth it?
My husband Elliot and I stayed at the Shangri-La The Shard for one night, and here’s what I think.
Rooms at the Shangri-La The Shard are not cheap. This is a 5-star luxury hotel located inside one of the most recognizable buildings in the London skyline, after all. But is it worth it for a splurge?
(And please note, I was NOT hosted during this stay – I paid full-price for my room! I decided to write about it for anyone else contemplating a special stay here.)
The Shangri-La The Shard offers 202 guest rooms across 18 floors of The Shard building (starting on floor 34 and going up through floor 52). All of their rooms and suites have spectacular city views through floor-to-ceiling windows, and each room is slightly different due to the unique shape of The Shard.
The types of rooms you can choose from include:
If you’re going to splurge on a room at The Shard, you’re going to want a room that overlooks the Thames and some of London’s iconic landmarks. You best value for money is going to be either a Deluxe City View Room or Premier City View Room, or the Iconic City View Room (which is a corner, Thames-facing room).
These rooms offer up the very best views over central London, and the first two are usually under $1300 per night.
You probably want to avoid any rooms that mention a southerly-facing view, as it means you’ll be looking away from the Thames and landmarks like St. Pauls, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, etc.
The Deluxe and Premier City View room types make up the bulk of the rooms at The Shard, so if you’re hoping for a bubble bath moment with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking London landmarks, these are the rooms you want! (You can also call ahead and try to request a bathtub with a view at The Shard; these won’t be guaranteed, but usually they do a good job trying to accommodate requests.)
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Some things you can expect to find in every room include:
Our room also had a huge walk-in his & hers closet area, and lots of smart controls for things like the lights, black-out shades, and more.
You’ll arrive at the ground floor of the Shard, where there’s a large concierge-style desk. Once you say you’re checking in to the Shangri-La, they’ll direct you to the elevators, and you’ll head up to the 34th floor and check in just like you would at any hotel.
Check-in is at 4 p.m., and check-out is at 11 a.m. Elliot and I arrived early off an international flight, and while our room wasn’t ready yet, they did direct us up to the pool level and said we could freshen up (even take showers if we wanted to!), and then the concierge held our luggage until our room was ready, and then moved the luggage into our room for us.
The Shangri-La chain of hotels generally oozes luxury, and it’s no different here in London. Nothing is too much to ask of the smartly-dressed staff.
For example, when we arrived and informed the reception staff that the airline had misplaced Elliot’s bag, they offered to send things like a toothbrush up to our room, told him he could borrow/rent swim trunks if we wanted to use the pool, and even asked if they could make any calls to check on the status of the lost bag while we were out for the afternoon.
We also found a hand-written welcome note on the window in our bathroom when we got up to our room, and I had bubble bath delivered to our room within 5 minutes of calling down to ask for some.
Other services available include things like:
Elliot and I don’t often take advantage of things like spa services or fitness centers in hotels, but a unique feature at this London hotel is the Sky Pool, which is advertised as the “highest hotel pool in Western Europe.”
An infinity-style pool up on the 52nd floor of The Shard, the Sky Pool is definitely worth visiting. It offers up incredible views out over London as you swim, and has some nice seating areas, too. (It’s also right next to the Sky Sauna, which has similarly amazing views.)
The Sky Pool, Sky Sauna (and hotel gym) are free for hotel guests, but you do have to pre-book a time to use the pool and sauna since both are fairly small. We booked an early morning time slot when we checked in, and had the Sky Pool all to ourselves the following morning!
Shangri-La The Shard has 1 restaurant and 3 different bars, and also offers 24-hour in-room dining.
The restaurant is called TING, and it’s open for three meals a day on the 35th floor of The Shard. TING has an Asian-influenced menu, and also serves afternoon tea.
The bars available are Bar 31 (a casual spot on the ground floor of The Shard), the Sky Lounge (on the 34th floor), and GŎNG (a cocktail bar on the 52nd floor).
GONG is the highest hotel bar in Western Europe, and has a nice cocktail menu alongside light bites. But GONG is pretty pricey; for a standard seating, a minimum spend of £30 per person is required. They also offer a “Deluxe Window Experience” with guaranteed window seating, a bottle of champagne, and an Asian food platter for £125 per person. (And you want to book ahead here.)
Elliot and I actually didn’t eat/drink at any of the Shangri-La-affiliated spots (but we did do a Peter Pan-themed afternoon tea at Aqua Shard on the 31st floor of The Shard).
And now you want to know whether this stay at the Shard hotel was worth it. I get it; I wanted to know, too, but could only find blog posts written by people who had been gifted free stays!
And the answer of course is… it depends!
The Shangri-La The Shard is a true luxury hotel with rooms, amenities, and a level of service that live up to expectations. But $1200+ per night is not going to be “worth it” for everyone.
Staying at Shangri-La The Shard IS worth it if you’re someone who usually stays at luxury properties anyway, or someone who is willing to splurge on a really memorable stay for a special occasion.
Elliot and I fell into the second category – we don’t usually book hotels that are this expensive, but we were making up for lost (travel) time as we stayed here on our first international trip in 2.5 years after. Plus, the really special touches like the bubble bath with an unbeatable view and the Sky Pool made it worth it for us.
(We only stayed one night, though, and then used Chase points to pay for another hotel for the rest of our 5 days in London.)
A stay at Shangri-La The Shard would NOT be worth it if you don’t really care about where you sleep on vacation, or if you don’t think of a hotel as being a travel “experience” in and of itself.
If you don’t want to stay here, that’s fine! You could always still book at table at GONG, go to afternoon tea at Aqua Shard, or simply pay to go to the View from the Shard observation deck to get basically the same view for a lot less money.
And if you do want to splash out and treat yourself to a stay at Shangri-La The Shard? Then go for it!
Read reviews on TripAdvisor | Book a room here
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