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Riverside room in the Krungthep Wing
Like Los Angeles, Bangkok is a city that seems to go on forever, sprawling out over a total area of over 600 square miles. This means that there’s no shortage of hotels and no shortage of neighborhoods. But if you’re looking for the finest lodging in the city, it doesn’t get much better than the Shangri-La.
Although its location puts you well outside the city center and quite far from many of the attractions (such as the Grand Palace), cheap taxis, nearby river taxi and public transit stops allow guests to maintain their mobility while indulging in the five-star comfort of the Shangri-La. We don’t need to say much more in that sense – the Shangri-La’s reputation for luxury definitely precedes it – but given that the property in Bangkok has two separate wings with two separate entrances, you might be wondering which is the best room to book.
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.
Back in January, we got in a cab in front of our hotel and took it across town. A few minutes after arriving at our destination, we realized that our phone was no longer in our pocket and had fallen out in the cab. What ensued next was about an hour of panic and scrambling, calling the cab company and trying to get in contact with the driver. Because we didn't have the cab number, we were completely out of luck, never able to get in touch with the driver to see if the phone was still there in the back seat.
It was an experience that happens to the best of us when traveling, and it was obviously not something to blame on anyone else. But this week, a simple gesture by a hotel helped to make sure it didn't happen again. We bunked up at the Shangri-La in Bangkok, and every time we hopped in a cab, the bellman handed us a little card with all our cab's information on it. Luckily, we never had to use it, but we thought it was a really solid move, and one that would be a lifesaver if we forgot something in a cab. It would have certainly helped us back in January.
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¡Mira! There is so much hotel news flying around this week, we just don't have enough time to focus on all the new hotels news. So here's a quick rundown to get you up to speed on the latest.
· KONNICHIWA ANDAZ TOKYO: The newest Andaz Hotel, Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, is now officially open! Check out the room shot above. Swoon. Hopefully, we'll more from inside the property for you to see next week.
· HILTON HOTELS TAKING OVER MYANMAR: Only a few years after opening its country to tourism, Myanmar has been prepping for some major growth. And now it needs to brace itself for the onslaught of Hilton Hotels. The hotel chain has partnered up with the Eden Group Company to rebrand two of the Group's recently opened properties in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, and on Ngapali beach in Rakhine State. Those hotels will now be known as Hilton Nay Pyi Taw and Hilton Ngapali Beach Resort. Hilton is also planning three more hotels in the next three years, namely: Hilton Bagan and Hilton Inle Lake in 2016 and the Hilton Mandalay which will open in 2017.
There's a mystery building in Hamburg, Germany. A historic building that used to house the city's tax authority is receiving some interest from a Hong Kong based hotel group. But which one? Well, that's the mystery. Fortunately, we have some clues.
According to the report, the building, built in 1907, will offer 147 hotel rooms once it goes through its massive renovations, to the tune of 50 million Euros. An investor in the property told another newspaper that the hotel will be managed by a hotel operator based in Asia, which could be either Peninsula or Shangri-la.
As promised, now is the time to settle in and ogle what’s inside, which we’ll break down for you in four parts. You can click on the sections below or just scroll at your leisure.
The day is finally here: the long-awaited Shangri-La at the Shard London is open. Following a traditional Chinese ceremony of ‘awakening the lion’, and ribbon cutting and speech by Mayor Boris Johnson earlier today – two things that surely don’t come together very often – we stopped by this evening to see what difference a month makes.
The answer to that? A lot, with guests milling about restaurant and lounge Tīng on floor 35, where four weeks ago everything was still wrapped in protective plastic and the only guests were hard-hatted construction workers.
What comes to mind when considering a trip to Tibet? Checking out (perhaps from a distance) Mount Everest? Studying the teachings of the Dalai Lama? Visiting seriously ancient temples? Whether you do all or none of these things, Shangri-La Hotels wants to end your day in the peak of luxury--no pun intended--at their first hotel in Tibet’s capital city, Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa.
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Having waited for so long, we were pretty psyched to check out Shangri-La at the Shard last week. One thing we can say for sure now that we’ve been inside? It will be unlike any other hotel in the city – the Asian-influenced design and skyscraper setting is more Tokyo or Hong Kong than London, even as you look out over the British rooftops.
Arrival happens through the ground floor lobby on St. Thomas Street, which has a reception desk, small seating area, and around the corner, coffee shop and patisserie LÁNG. We liked the mural made out of coffee cups and saucers (see below for a picture), and as the final furniture arrives, LÁNG will also get outdoor seating, between the Shard and the escalator that runs up to the concourse level of London Bridge station.
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About a month from now, Shangri-La Hotels will finally cut the ribbon on its long in the works skyscraper hotel at the Shard in London. Ahead of the May 6 opening, we packed ourselves into a construction lift - high-visibility gear, hard hat and all - for a first look at what you can expect between floors 34 and 52 of the Renzo Piano-designed landmark.
As we heard when reservations opened a few weeks back (opening rates start at £450 / $750), the ground floor lobby facing St. Thomas Street looks nearly finished, but some changes to furniture and set up are still to be made. We saw the sky lobby at level 35, which hits you with head-on views of the City and St. Paul’s, all the way west towards Westminster, the second you step out of the express lifts.
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has decided to save the planet in their own small way by introducing environmentally-friendly digital newspapers rather than offering daily delivery of the real thing to each guest’s room. Considering the digital service replaces approximately two million print newspapers annually, there are a pretty significant number of trees that are all breathing a sigh of relief.
They’ve partnered with PressReader, a digital newspaper and magazine service, to do the deed. Hotel and restaurant guests can connect through each hotel’s complimentary WiFi via their laptops, tablets or smartphones and read to their heart’s content over 2,000 local, regional and international publications from 100 countries in 60 languages. That’s a lot of words.
The service can be found across all Shangri-La and Kerry Hotel properties in any and all WiFi enabled areas of the properties, including — yes — hotel cars.
For those of us who still prefer the smooth feel of the newsprint and black, inky fingers in the morning, Shangri-La Hotels are offering a limited number of print newspaper editions by request.
[Photo: Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts]
The hotel will open its doors to real, live, paying guests on May 6th with a superior room starting at 450GBP a night, or an eye-watering $748 USD. Thankfully, that includes VAT.
While the rooms will open on May 6 as will Ting, the signature restaurant and lounge on level 35, the hotel's champagne and cocktail bar, Gŏng--located on the top floor and named after the interlocking wooden brackets commonly used in traditional Chinese architecture and featured throughout the venue-- will open later on in July. It will be the highest champagne and cocktail bar in London when it opens. (FWIW, the infinity pool will also open on level 52, but in the fitness center, not as part of Gŏng.)