The weather may still be cold, and the sky is undoubtedly grey, but – in the city of London, at least – spring has arrived. It’s a couple of months yet until London bursts into bloom – with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, its most famous celebration of all things green, not due to kick off until May. In the meantime, another London institution – Shangri-La The Shard – is one step ahead, with its ode to spring already in full force.
Known for its seasonal celebrations – from its Alpine-themed ski huts to its recent futuristic take on Christmas – Shangri-La The Shard’s latest reinvention will definitely put a spring in your step, even before the city’s real cherry trees have blossomed into flower. From the ground-floor lobby to the reception zone on the 35th floor, unique floral installations have said goodbye to the cold and hello to a new season.
Baskets of tumbling heather and delicate pastel roses adorn the ground-floor reception. A faux tree with hanging pastel flowers seems as though it’s been transported from the pages of a picture book. It’s almost enough of a detraction to not notice the statement, modernist crystal chandelier and standout artworks, which include a Chinese ink painting (but not quite).
Take the lift to level 35, the official entry point of the hotel, and wisteria, in all shades of candy colours, and a rose heart installation catapults you into another fantastical realm. The floral extravaganza continues at the hotel’s TĪNG restaurant, found adjacent, which is also dressed with violet-hanging wisteria. The restaurant’s name derives from the Chinese word for ‘living room’, reflecting the casual elegance of the space where its just-launched Spring of Love Skyline Afternoon Tea menu is served.
As the city unfolds below you, the River Thames snaking its way between the capital’s famous buildings, you can tuck into a selection of saccharine treats. First, an improbable, miniature Shard building, made of white chocolate and passion fruit, which looks almost too good to eat. There’s bubbles, of course, or perhaps a fragrant rosebud tea to sip on. A selection of finger sandwiches and savouries bites include a beetroot heart with hibiscus powder, and a prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce. Freshly-baked sweet and savoury scones, with strawberry jam and clotted cream, are a precursor to the delicate patisserie, which includes an elderflower sponge with strawberry cream and jelly, a pistachio profiterole and a heart-shaped pastry filled with white chocolate mousse.
As the sun dips, TĪNG slowly morphs into a different place by night. The flowers are still there but, with the city lit up below, it becomes a sophisticated and dynamic dining space. As waiters dance a ballet around you, the views pulling your gaze outside, a menu inspired by Asian-fusion cuisine – from a delicate salmon wonton tart to miso cod and Lo Mein beef noodles – takes centre stage.
Next year, Shangri-La The Shard will celebrate its 10-year anniversary. Known for its of-the-moment offerings and collaborations with leading tastemakers, the hotel has already announced it will usher in a new architecture programme, including an exclusive audio tour with Open City, giving access to some of London’s best-loved architectural gems. The Shard, of course, is one of these – one of London’s most recognisable icons on its skyline.