Yes it’s true, I’m a girl that loves a bit of luxury. Or a lot of luxury, either way. I’ve been mocked by my colleagues for an appreciation of the finer things in life and that when we go on holiday we sometimes pay over the odds because we don’t do things in the most economical way possible. Well, I have a few responses – one is that luxury is different to different people, it could be getting your nails done once a month or flying first class to the Maldives. It could be paying for the slightly more expensive seats at the cinema or saving up for that Chanel handbag. That’s the beautiful thing about it, luxury can be as small or as big as you want it to be. Plus, like most people, I’m busy and work hard so a little treat every now and then feels totally justifiable.
This time around the treat in question was afternoon tea at one of the latest Shangri-La hotel offerings which happens to be conveniently located in The Shard at London Bridge, just a short train ride for us from home and as we were celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary we thought it might be nice to go and enjoy ourselves. Plus, it was partly paid for with a lovely gift token from my Mum for our last wedding anniversary which we just hadn’t found the time to use.
The hotel itself takes up floors 34 to 52 of the Shard, which I’ve witnessed the building of via my daily commute to London Bridge since our office moved there back in 2010. I’m never sure what to make of the regeneration of London, of course it has to happen and no-one wants to live in a dirty, run-down place, but there is also the danger that history and identity get trampled underfoot in the process so I’ve always felt a little indifferent to these unusual new skyscrapers which seem to be springing up all the time. That said, it’s here, it’s not going anywhere and serves a purpose in terms of showcasing architectural magnificence and being popular with tourists owing to its viewing platforms.
The main Shangri-La restaurant is Ting, which presents a modern European menu with an Asian twist. It’s located on the 35th floor of the Shard along with the hotel reception and we were given a warm welcome by the staff as we were shown to our window table – it’s definitely worth requesting one should you pay a visit since if you’re going to be that high up you may want to take in the views. It’s incredible how diddy London seems when seen from so high up.
We could have had lunch or dinner there with our token but I LOVE afternoon tea, it’s such a fun and special indulgence – sandwiches, tea and cake all in one meal? It’s the perfect combination for me. Ting offers two variants on their menus, a traditionally classic English version and an Asian-inspired alternative. They can also provide a gluten-free equivalent of the English afternoon tea if given advanced notice so this is what I requested when I booked but it’s not so different – gluten-free bread for the sandwiches, gluten-free scones and a slight variation on the cakes. There are over 30 teas to choose from (I chose a smoky Lapsang Souchong) and of course an anniversary celebration wouldn’t be complete without a glass of bubbly so we threw those in too.
At £54 per afternoon tea, excluding champagne, it doesn’t come cheap. However, the service is fantastic and of course in part what you’re paying for is the setting, the ambience, the luxury element and you get the impression that nothing is too much trouble. Our booking was at 2.30 and we had plenty of time to sit back and unwind, watching people come and go and the world carrying on far below us at street level, creating the desired effect that we were just for a few hours part of an entirely different world. If that’s not worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.
This is not a collaborative or sponsored post, I just wanted to share this little adventure because we enjoyed it so much. All words, opinions and images are my own unless otherwise stated.
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