There’s something about celebrating birthdays that makes me turn back into my inner child; I love celebrating them with birthday weeks, events booked far into the future and gifts. Andy’s birthday was the perfect occasion to book somewhere that we’d wanted to visit for a long time: Shangri-La at the Shard. After a little digging around I discovered that just two weeks after his birthday GONG at Shangri-La London were holding a Midsummer Celebration on the longest day of the year.
As soon as I discovered that there were only 50 tickets for the sunset party I rang GONG immediately – after finding the perfect event, I wasn’t about to miss the tickets!
Fast forward two weeks and as we arrived on the 52nd floor we were given the choice of a glass of champagne or punch as we rounded the corner and had our first glimpse of Gong Bar at Shangri-La London.
Since I was in a celebratory mood, champagne was the order of the day for me, whereas Andy was feeling more adventurous and opted for the punch. I loved the beautiful presentation of the punch, which looked wonderful and had hints of oriental flowers that reminded you of the Chinese roots of the hotel.
GONG at Shangri-La is made up of three different chambers: the cocktail bar, the champagne bar and the swimming pool. GŎNG derives its name from ‘dougong’ – a unique structural element of interlocking wooden brackets, used in traditional Chinese architecture and also featured in the bar.
I’d seen so many photos of the swimming pool that I was so excited to see it that evening, and I’m glad to say that my first view of the pool with the slowly setting midsummer sun was just as exciting as I was hoping it would be.
After we’d explored the various areas of GONG we settled down to enjoy our first drinks, say cheers to Andy’s birthday and to the midsummer sun and enjoy our surroundings.
I loved the cool, modern decor throughout GONG, especially the fact that each area is distinct. It’s no surprise, I don’t think, that we spent our evening between the swimming pool area and the champagne bar. I loved the swimming pool and could easily imagine myself having a morning swim here after a luxurious night staying at Shangri-La London!
Needless to say, the views from the 52nd floor of the Shard were incredible. I love seeing London from different heights and locations, and Andy and I spent quite a while pointing out different buildings (and restaurants!) that we’ve already been to, and where we’d like to visit next.
We picked a little table nestled right in the corner of GONG at Shangri-La which had incredible views of the Walkie Talkie, the Gherkin and the river itself and settled in to enjoy our luxurious date night.
It was a really special evening, watching the sky turn from blue, through to pink and red and finally to darkness. Whether you were just there to celebrate midsummer or, like us, had other celebrations on your mind, it was a magical place to be that evening.
GONG at Shangri-La doesn’t accept reservations, meaning that on any given day you can be whizzed up to new heights and experience this magical view with a glass of champagne in your hand…
It’s a view I couldn’t get enough of and one that I want to return to again and again. Can you imagine waking up to these views? If staying at Shangri-La wasn’t already on my London bucket list it certainly was after our evening at GONG.
Keen to enjoy all of the evening we had arrived as early as we could, but as the night went on more and more of the lucky ticket holders arrived and soon GONG was filling up pleasantly. I really enjoyed that there weren’t more people there that evening as the event had a really intimate feel and wasn’t overly full.
That pool kept tempting me I have to say…
It’s a bit of an unwritten London secret that if you want to visit the Shard you don’t buy tickets to the viewing platform, but instead opt for a drink at one of the Shard’s many bars or restaurants. I’d highly recommend GONG at Shangri-La for just that. Whether it’s for a date night or celebrations with friends, there’s something very special about toasting a glass of champagne here.
The luxurious red decor is continued throughout the bar; in fact the red decor represents the colour of the walls found in Chinese Imperial Palaces.
But we were there for midsummer, which means the longest day of the year, and also it’s meant to be the most spectacular sunset of the year. Well, I can certainly say we enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen – and certainly the best I’ve ever seen in the UK.
London took on a totally different meaning to me that night; high above all the stresses of work and emails, we were able to see, and be reminded of, what an incredible city we live in.
Realisations like that call for cocktails if you ask me… GONG had created a few special cocktails for the evening which were absolutely delicious. My favourite was the Born to Fly, a vodka based cocktail with basil, fig, citrus and French aperitif.
Canapes were served before the last surprise of the evening…
A synchronised swimming demonstration that brought cheers from everyone present.
And before long it was time to head off in carriages before they turned to pumpkins! So drinks were finished and taxis called, before we headed back down into London itself.
And I said goodbye to that pool… I’ll definitely be back, ’cause that bucket list staycation just moved further up the list!
And just like that, we woke up the next day feeling like we’d found a very special place right on our doorstep in London town.
A magical midsummer and happy birthday, Andy!