Be warned that if you decide to book at the Shangri-La, you must be prepared to never leave it. That's because staying here, on the 36th to 52nd floors of this glass-sheathed skyscraper, means that your room will be encased with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the entire city. No structure in London will be higher than you. When you take a bath (in your marble-coated washroom with heated floors), you may feel as if you're flying over the Thames and the Tower of London, and when you swim in your horizon pool in the sky above St. Paul's, the vista is so surreal you may wonder if it's all a dream. The sunset views from GŎNG, the intimate 52nd-floor bar (make a reservation far ahead) could feasibly send you into fits. Tearing yourself away from that indelible panorama will break your heart.

It's not just a pretty view, though; the hotel is excellent (if not quite as fussy as the other 5-stars around) without being unbearably snooty. Such glassy heaven comes with interiors that are clean-lined, simple, and inflected by the Asian culture from which the Shangri-La brand hails (for example, in-room amenities might be stored in a bento-style box). Since the Shard is now an economic icon, security is tight, and two lifts are required to reach rooms. The Thames and the famous Borough Market are right at its base. The jagged shape of the Shard means that corner rooms sometimes permit peering into a neighbor's space if you step into the wrong area, but this is hardly enough to disqualify the hotel. Rates are higher than other luxury hotels in town but, well, so are the rooms, and that seems to justify it to my satisfaction.