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Gŏng on Floor 52 of Shangri-La at the Shard Is London’s Highest Hotel Bar

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  Site Where: 31 St. Thomas Street, London, United Kingdom, SE1 9QU
July 2, 2014 at 9:01 AM | by | ()

When Shangri-La at the Shard finally opened in May, the highest bit of London’s first hotel high up was still a work in progress: the 52nd floor with bar Gŏng, swimming pool, and gym. While the pool will arrive mid-August, bar Gŏng (derived from dougong, a Chinese architectural element of interlocking wooden brackets) is now open and has claimed its title as the city’s highest hotel bar.

We headed over earlier this week to see it for ourselves, arriving without a reservation – something that, given the capacity restriction at 90 people, we wouldn’t recommend during weekend peak times. You make your way up to the 35th floor first, where you switch elevators to complete the journey to level 52. Once there, you’ll find two main sections: a cocktail bar facing north with a range of seating, and a larger section facing east with a champagne bar towards the back.

The views are the draw here, and like slightly lower in the hotel, they are stunning. Once the pool is finished, the west-facing section it occupies will be opened up to the bar late at night, giving virtually 360-degree views of the city (and no, you can’t go for a late-night swim). At the back is a gym, which thankfully is accessible through a separate corridor (a direct left when exiting the elevators), but as a hotel guest on your way to/from your room, you will be sharing an elevator with people dolled up for their night out.

Service was very friendly (we were offered a window seat a little while in to better enjoy the view), if a little wobbly at times (our food order was forgotten and only arrived once we had finished our first round of drinks). We were surprised to see significant marks on the marble-topped tables from glasses and spills, which made them look spotty even though they were clean. Given the bar has only been open a few weeks, it must be a defect of the furniture, something we assume will be looked at.

The menu contains the full range of drinks and cocktails you expect at a bar like this, with prices to match, as well as a small selection of snacks and platters. Gŏng is open Monday to Friday from 5pm – 2am, Saturday 2pm – 2am, and Sunday 2pm – midnight. You need to be 18 or over to make your way up.

[Photos: JasonD]

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