The Shangri-La at The Shard is the highest hotel in Western Europe, with restaurants and rooms overlooking London from one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers.
Asian & English Afternoon Tea
The Shangri-La at The Shard, London
Overall rating: ★★★☆☆
£62-70 with a glass of Champagne
(excl. 12.5% service charge)
Tea refills: Yes; Food refills: Yes
Service: 12 to 6 pm in the TING Lounge (floor 35)
The Shangri-La at the Shard Hotel Setting ★★★★★
The Shard is the tallest building in the UK, standing at 309.6 meters high with 95 floors. It is located near the London Bridge and offers a stunning panoramic view of London.
The Shangri-La Hotel occupies floors 34 to 52, and afternoon tea can be grabbed at either of these venues:
- The TING Lounge on the 35th floor, which serves both Asian and English inspired afternoon tea;
- The LANG Deli on the 1st floor and the GONG bar on the 52nd floor, both of which only serve an English afternoon tea.
Since I wanted to review both the Asian and the British versions, I opted for the TING Lounge on the 35th floor. For those of you who wish for an even better view, the 52nd floor GONG bar is your best bet.
The pictures below show the TING Lounge, along with its amazing view of London. The Lounge itself is cosy, with a bit of an Asian/Dubaiesque tacky quality. The pianist is very good and will delight you with some classics, as well as with a few “Game of Thrones” pieces.
The Tea & Beverage Selection★★★★★
With a choice of 24 teas & infusions, this selection is among the best in London. It is the only hotel I have come across so far which also serves a Pu-Erh tea, and that alone is worth a five star rating.
Teh Tarik drink: ★★★★★
The Asian afternoon tea starts with a Malaysian beverage called “Teh tarik“, a slightly sweet hot milk beverage. It is Malaysia’s official national drink and is very popular in South-East Asia. The dry ice effect is most impressive, and the beverage itself makes a good amuse-bouche.
Welcome Tea (White tea & Jasmine blend): ★★★★★
A white tea had a distinctive soft apricot aroma combined with a touch of jasmine tea. A brilliant blend.
(This tea is also available without the jasmine for the delight of white tea purists)
Signature Tea (Oolong tea): ★★★★★
A slightly astringent oolong tea that I highly recommended for starters.
Signature Afternoon Tea (Black tea blend): ★★★☆☆
A plain blend of black teas, but a good alternative to English Breakfast.
Lapsang Souchong (Black tea): ★★★★★
A good quality smoky and fully flavoured. Lapsang Souchong.
Pu Erh (Fermented black tea): ★★★★☆
It’s very unusual for a hotel to offer this type of tea, but I strongly recommend it to the more adventurous souls and to coffee lovers. This variety is not as strong as most Pu-erh teas, but it is still high quality and well worth a try.
Earl Grey Orange (Black tea): ★★★★☆
An interesting very fruity Earl grey blend.
China Milky Oolong (Oolong tea): ★★★★★
The milky aftertaste may seem peculiar, but it’s a really good tea that will pair very well with the sweets.
The South-East Asian Afternoon Tea Savouries ★★★☆☆
Whether it’s the Asian or the English savouries, they all suffer from the same faults: an overall lack or flavour and excessive blandness.
“Banh Mi” Asian pork sandwich (brioche bun): ★★★☆☆
The bun is quite dry and so the overall sandwich lacks flavour.
Japanese spiced tuna Gunkan (sushi): ★★☆☆☆
Oddly shaped and quite plain.
Vietnamese spice crab and iceberg roll: ★★★★☆
Quite tasty and refreshing: this is the best Asian inspired savoury.
Chinese “Har Kau” steamed prawn Dim Sum, Tobiko: ★★★☆☆
Not much to write about this one, but let’s say that I’ve had much better Dim Sums in much less fancy venues.
Peking duck spring roll, hoisin, cucumber relish: ★★★★☆
Simpler is better, this spring roll is very scrummy and pleasant.
The Summer Berry English Afternoon Tea Savouries ★★★☆☆
The English afternoon tea also has its own amuse-bouche, a gazpacho soup served in a shot glass.
Tomato Gazpacho with spring onions and pickled pineapple (shot glass): ★★★★☆
The taste is very strong for an appetiser, but quite pleasant still.
5 spice Dorset crab, papaya gel (brioche bun): ★★☆☆☆
While the crab and papaya go well together, the bun bread was, once again, too dry.
Smoked coronation chicken, apricots, toasted almonds (black bread): ★★★☆☆
The flavours are so out of balance that you’ll barely be able to taste the chicken, and the black bread makes it even worse. Not bad per se, it’s just too plain.
Cucumber, cream cheese, vinegar (green bread): ★★★★☆
Very refreshing, the flavour of vinegar adds a pleasant kick.
Organic duck egg mayonnaise, Winter truffle (orange bread): ★★★☆☆
An interesting taste but if suffers from the same problem as most of the savouries: it’s too light.
Roast Angus beef, English mustard butter, Winchester watercress: ★★★★★
The best sandwich: English mustard and watercress make the beef even tastier.
The Scones ★☆☆☆☆
Three different flavours: Earl Grey, Fruit and Plain. They come with Strawberry Jam, Yuzu (a citrus fruit which resembles Mandarin and Grapefruit) and Clotted Cream.
These were dry and not even warm despite being covered with a serviette. The Earl Grey scone that comes with the Asian afternoon tea is very original, but I’m afraid it is a bit of an acquired taste.
The South-East Asian Afternoon Tea Sweets ★★★★☆
I often think that Asian cuisine doesn’t shine with its desserts, but this afternoon tea proved me wrong.
Thai Pandan custard, glutinous coconut rice: ★★★★★
Brilliant taste, the custard and coconut rice come together perfectly.
Chinese puff pastry, sweet egg custard (tart): ★★★★☆
A classic Cantonese dessert (common in Macau, Hong-Kong and Guangdong).
Malaysian layer cake, vanilla and raspberry sponge: ★★★★☆
A delicious cake, vanilla and raspberry are always a safe bet.
Indonesian mango pudding, tapioca, pomelo (shot glass): ★★☆☆☆
Mango and tapioca/pomelo do not go very well together, resulting in a rather odd mixture.
Matcha Motchi Green tea cream, silk skin: N/A
Was not served, replaced by the macaroon.
The Summer Berry English Afternoon Tea Sweets ★★★★☆
The English sweets are the best part of the Shangri-La at The Shard afternoon tea, so I strongly recommend ordering the English afternoon tea instead of the Asian variance.
Raspberry Breton, Raspberry curd and raspberry Chantilly: ★★★★★
Raspberry curd and Chantilly cream, a simple and yet delicious fusion. The best cake of this afternoon tea, also our waiter’s favourite.
Almond macaron with blueberry compote and cheesecake mousse (macaroon): ★★★★☆
Just sweet enough, as a good macaroon should be!
Chocolate brownie with cherry jelly and very berry tea ganache cake: ★★★★☆
The chocolate brownie base and the cherry ganache make for a well-balanced cake, halfway between a brownie and a mousse.
Summer berry cremeux, raspberry foam and macerated berries (shot glass):★★★★☆
Chocolaty cream with a few dark berries. Can’t go wrong there.
Pistachio cream, English strawberry and dark chocolate cake: ★★★★☆
A very nice cake made of pistachio cream topped with strawberries and held together by an outer layer of dark chocolate. I recommend eating in a single bite, you’ll never manage to cut it 😉
The Service ★★★★★
The TING Lounge team is courteous and efficient. Upon arrival we were asked if we wanted to wait a little in order to get a table by the window and the staff was most accommodating when the number of guests changed at the last minute.
The staff is accessible despite the circular shape of the venue, and we were offered refills of food & tea on several occasions. I would like to thank Nicu and Jordan who are both amazing waiters, friendly and knowledgeable.
Below is a video of Jordan explaining the afternoon tea:
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★☆☆
The tea selection is excellent, the service team is very professional but the food just disappoints, especially the scones… Long story short, if you’re not bothered about the view, there are much better afternoon teas in London. At £54 per person, this is not great value for money.
If you plan to try the afternoon tea at the Shangri-La at the Shard anyway, I would recommend taking it in the GONG bar on the 52nd floor. You won’t be able to order the Asian afternoon tea, but at least you’ll get a much better view of London.
Otherwise, you can also grab a cocktail or even dinner at the Aqua Shard or at Oblix restaurants on floor 34. It’ll probably be cheaper, and the view is almost the same as the one from the TING Lounge.
+: Stunning view of London
+: Excellent tea selection
+: The Amuse-bouche (Teh Tarik)
+: Some of the English sweets (Raspberry Breton)
+: Service is friendly, knowledgeable and efficient
-: Disappointing savouries & terrible scones
-: Poor value for money
View from the Aqua Shard at sunset
Below are a few pictures I took from the Aqua Shard once the sun disappeared. Also quite a sight:
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