Making a splash even before it had opened, the Shangri-La continues to impress with its breathless list of highest this, that and the other – notably highest swimming pool in western Europe, highest champagne bar in western Europe, and of course its setting in the highest building in western Europe. It’s this height and attendant views that are the big draw, but the Shangri-La goes the extra mile with everything, and has one magical effect that no other London hotel can achieve.
There are the rooms for a start – spacious, comfortable, and decorated with understated Asian-inspired motifs including delicate silk chinoiserie wall panels and Asian art. Then there’s what is actually in them: Nespresso machines; fresh milk and fresh fruit; a well-stocked minibar and tea tray; a teeny-tiny TV in the bathroom mirror; Japanese Washlet toilets with warm seats; drench showers and bathtubs (many with views; ask for one when you book); cotton yukata kimonos, and Acqua di Parma toiletries. And, natch, a copy of Time Out alongside such salubrious titles as CNT and luxury London mag In London.
But of course what dominates these superbly appointed rooms are the views, and Renzo Piano’s design of the building ensures that each one, with its floor to ceiling windows and glass corners, ensures they’re as expansive as possible; from ours, using the binoculars provided in each room, you could see virtually the whole of north London. By day its sheer size beggars belief, by night the clusters of twinkling lights are mesmerising enough to make leaving your room very difficult.
Time Out tip: Don’t leave the hotel unless you have to; but if you do have to, the Royal Oak is a proper old-school Victorian London boozer that offers a great close-up experience of the city and fine ales.