Lockdown may have scuppered any immediate plans for overseas travel but you don’t have to get on a plane to feel transported to an exotic location. OK, I’m talking about London – but don’t turn away now. I promise you this is not London as you know it.
The Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard is offering its ‘ultimate staycation in the sky’ and it comes with lots of extras (more on these later) and quite a few safeguards that are especially reassuring in the Covid-19 era. For a start, you get complimentary parking, so no worries about taking public transport, your temperature is tested as you enter the building and you are given your own (re-usable) Shangri-La mask to use in all the public areas (unless you are eating or drinking of course). There are one-way routes and hand sanitisers everywhere and there is plenty of space here, so no worries about social distancing.
There is plenty of space in your room, too. And so much more. I was on the 45th floor and from the moment I entered, I was drawn irresistibly to the wall of glass that looked down on the city below. There was the London Eye and St Paul’s Cathedral, the river winding its way from Westminster, the trains slowly snaking into London Bridge station. From here the city looks like a map laid out before you, the eagle’s eye view of the capital. It brings London life into perspective – and I don’t just mean in the most literal visual sense.
The bathroom has not one but two of these walls of glass and it’s the scene of the first of those extras. From the freestanding bath you get the most stupendous views so clearly you want to make the most of them. Enter your bath butler. Mine was called Sidney and arrived bearing gifts: bath oils, a bag of dried flowers and herbs and bath scrub all from Neal’s Yard apothecary in Covent Garden. He then disappeared into the bathroom and closed the door. Ten minutes later, I was allowed to enter and discovered a bubble bath with foam around three or four inches deep and flecked with herbs – utterly sybaritic.
After all this, it was time to get ready for dinner in the hotel’s Ting Restaurant that specialises in both English and Asian cuisine. You can mix and match these so while I had a perfect beetroot and goat’s cheese salad followed by curried chicken Kiev with Asian chunky chips made from chick peas, my husband had Cornish crab Benedict and Singapore laksa curry. On the side, as it were, we had the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and immediately below us was HMS Belfast looking like a model boat.
I couldn’t bear to close the blinds at night given the spectacular view and still slept well, perhaps because it is absolutely silent. You can certainly see the city up here but you definitely can’t hear it. And in spite of a rather dismal weather forecast, we actually enjoyed a beautiful sunset and sunrise but it must also be quite wonderful on those days when all you can see below you are the clouds.
The next morning after a lazy breakfast, we checked out, but we hadn’t completely finished our stay. The next part of the package was a personal shopping experience at Harvey Nichols, with a dedicated shopping consultant in a private area of the store and (just in case you were feeling deprived of sybaritic experiences) champagne.
The champagne can help break the ice, as it were, for people nervous about the whole personal shopping experience – strangely enough, this is not uncommon. In fact, it’s a fun and relaxing way to spend a couple of hours, especially if you like clothes. It helps that Gaynor, my consultant, was engaging, interested and not at all threatening – you are not going to get bullied either into wearing something you don’t like or indeed buying anything at all!
The form is that your consultant will call you beforehand to get some details about you, what you wear and what you might be looking for. I thought I’d like a general updating of my look and some new ideas, things I might not have considered before. So, before I arrived, Gaynor had pulled out some clothes, as well as bags, footwear and even sunglasses to get us started. Then, as I tried on a few things, liked some, rejected others, she set off through the store to bring in new suggestions. And, yes, I did get plenty of ideas and insights – it’s amazing what you can learn from the professionals!
Though it’s called ‘Summer in the Sky’, the Shangri-La is continuing the offer all the way up to Christmas, so if you’re thinking about Christmas shopping trips, this may just be the perfect combination of practicality and a rather big treat just for you.
From £589 per night for two including breakfast, room upgrade, complimentary parking, Harvey Nichols personal shopping experience, deluxe bath experience and 20% discount in the hotel’s bars and restaurant.
Images © Shangri-La Hotel London