FrontRunners November 2014: TRAVEL


Shard of Class 

     In a city of landmarks, the Shard lords over all. The piercing 95-story, 1,016-foot-high Renzo Piano–designed structure—the new tallest building in the European Union—towers over the South Bank of the River Thames, offering unprecedented views of London’s many significant sites. Opened in May on the 34th through 52nd floors of the city’s latest landmark, the Shangri-La Hotel, at the Shard, London (, embraces its singular setting to provide an all-new 

perspective on the U.K. capital. 

    The 202-room Shangri-La is the first high-rise hotel in the United Kingdom and the only high-luxury property south of the Thames. Its guest rooms and suites take full advantage of the lofty perch, with push-button curtains and blinds that expose the cityscape through floor-to-ceiling windows. Spotting scopes in the three Signature Suites—which will debut in January and will include the 2,024-square-foot Shangri-La Suite—will allow guests to snap telescopic photos of the view with their smartphones. 

    While more vertical than central, the Shangri-La’s location offers convenient access to the Tate Modern, Borough Market—one of London’s oldest food bazaars—and the Tower of London. The hotel is also close to the London Eye, though a ride on the spectacle seems pointless given the Shangri-La’s superior vantage. The prospect is best from the property’s 52nd floor, where a fitness center and swimming pool sit adjacent to the Gŏng cocktail lounge and Champagne bar. The highest bar in Europe, Gŏng looks down on St. Paul’s Cathedral, Canary Wharf, the Houses of Parliament, and several other London landmarks.