Travel directory for spring 2014: First Shangri-La in the UK to open on May 6

Also: Royal Rose hotel comes to Abu Dhabi; Sofitel Downtown Dubai to open shortly; Orbital Travel launches Croatia coastal cruises; The Greener Pastures takes you on a tribal gastronomy tour in Northeast India; and Complimentary workshops for children at Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris.

The rooms at Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London, boast stunning views. Courtesy: Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
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London's much-awaited Shangri-La, the tallest hotel in Western Europe, will finally open its doors in May. Occupying levels 34 to 52 of the Renzo Piano-designed skyscraper, the rather awkwardly named Shangri-La at The Shard, London, has 202 guestrooms and suites and a "sky lobby" on level 35 of the 306-metre high, 72-storey Shard. The interior has been conceived by the Hong Kong interior designer André Fu, who was behind the design of the Berkeley's recently opened Opus Suite, and comes with "cinnabar red lacquer panels ... and a wall of Chinese cabinets made of galvanised steel. And quite a bit of purple." All the rooms and suites come with marble-clad bathrooms with heated floors, separate bathtubs and showers, Acqua di Parma amenities and mirrors with integrated television screens, plus floor-to-ceiling windows offering what are set to be the best views possible of the city. Although the hotel will welcome its first guests on May 6, three signature suites will be under development until September. That includes the flagship Shangri-La Suite, with a sweeping 180-degree view of London taking in the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, the Tower of London and River Thames. Guests will have three options when it comes to dining - GONG, set to be London's highest bar on the 52nd floor; TING, the signature restaurant and lounge on level 35 that takes its name from the Chinese word for "living room"; and LÁNG, an artisan deli on the ground floor. Other leisure amenities include a 24-hour gym and London's highest infinity pool, both located on level 52 and set to open in July. With ample conference and event facilities, the hotel's largest space will accommodate up to 140 guests, with two smaller spaces also available for hire.
Shangri-La at The Shard, London, is now taking reservations for its £450 (Dh2,770) per night rooms. Alternately, members of the Golden Circle loyalty programme can part with 20,000 points for an overnight stay in a standard room. For room reservations, email, call 00 44 207 234 8088 or visit
Royal Rose Hotel makes waves in Abu Dhabi and beyond
Expect to be overwhelmed when you walk into the newly opened Royal Rose, with its intricate wall detailing, ornate chandeliers, palatial furniture and plush carpeting - plus, the all-gold overlay, within and without. Meant to resemble the grandeur of a 17th-century French palace, the hotel will cater to both business and leisure travellers, and has 355 rooms, including one Royal Suite with butler service, limousine transfers and a spacious, wrap-around balcony. The first five-star property of the Bin Ham Group in Abu Dhabi, Royal Rose not only had its soft opening earlier this month, but hotel representatives also participated in the annual ITB Berlin, the world's largest travel trade show, to promote Abu Dhabi as a tourist destination in Germany.
For more information, visit or call 02 672 4000
French-based Sofitel group to open flagship hotel in Downtown Dubai
This May, Dubai will welcome another five-star hospitality destination in the form of a Sofitel Luxury Hotel. The Sofitel Dubai Downtown has 350 spacious rooms across 31 floors, with panoramic views of either the Burj Khalifa or the coastline. The geometric-chic interiors are inspired by the founder of the Optical Art movement, Victor Vasarely, and each room comes with deluxe French amenities such as Lanvin and Hermès, Sofitel's MyBed concept - featuring an all-feather mattress - and a spacious marble bathroom. Dining options include innovative Thai fare or French-inspired meats in the two signature restaurants, The Green Spices and The Red Grill, while the all-day Lobby Patisserie aims to transport you to Paris. The hotel's infinity pool, state-of-the art So Spa and So Fit centres, including two hammams, are best experienced after a long, satisfying day at The Dubai Mall nearby.
Visit to make a reservation. Sofitel Dubai Downtown opens its doors on May 1 and doubles cost from Dh1,350 per night, excluding tax
Orbital Travel launches Croatia coastal cruises
The Nile Cruise specialist, Orbital Travel, has added a seven-night Dalmatian cruise starting this spring. Dalmatia stretches from the northern coast of Croatia to the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro along the unspoilt Adriatic coastline, which boasts over 1,000 islands, bays and national parks. The cruise begins and ends in the picturesque medieval city of Dubrovnik and showcases the region's stunning scenery; stopovers include the islands of Mljet, Korcula, Vis and Hvar; the medieval cities of Sibenik, Trogir and Split; and the scenic Kotor estuary in Montenegro. Cruises are on the MS Belle de l'Adriatique, which offers a relaxed and intimate atmosphere with excellent seafood and the opportunity to spend free time on board, as well as experience the local culture and cuisine.
Departures are between April and October and a seven-night cruise costs £1,325 (Dh8,155) per person, including internal transfers and all the services aboard the MS Belle de l'Adriatique. More details on
Complimentary workshops for children at Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris
A dip in the infinity pool and a customary Eiffel Tower trip are all very well, but this holiday, sign up your children for a bunch of creative weekend workshops, complimentary for the hotel's guests and guests to its Saturday brunch at La Cuisine restaurant. Le Petit Royal programme includes indoor and outdoor activities ranging from cupcake- and pizza-making classes with a Michelin-star Italian chef, movie screenings and music-mixing lessons for older kids with the in-house DJ. Outside the hotel, children can discover the best parts of Paris, with treasure hunts through the Louvre's Egyptian galleries and "pirate" boat trips down the Seine, while girls can follow in the footsteps of a prima ballerina for the day. The brunch costs ?78 (Dh395) with a 50 per cent discount for children between 6 and 12 years, and free for children under 6. The 149-room Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris reopened in 2010 as a next-generation palace, after a dramatic two-year transformation headed by the designer Philippe Starck.
Tribal gastronomy tour in Northeast India
Populated by over 200 tribes, Northeast India offers foodies the chance to taste cuisines that have their roots in Mongolia and South East Asia with a dash of tribal flavour. The eco-tourism travel company Greener Pastures now offers a seven-night gastronomy tour that goes from the bustling city of Guwahati and the grassy hills of Meghalaya to Shillong, a lush hill- station, and Mawlynnong, considered the cleanest village of Asia. Sample the cuisine of the Khasi tribe, which is big on herbs, organic vegetables and slow-cooked meats. The trip also includes a visit to Kaziranga National Park, a world-heritage site teeming with wildlife, where you can feast on traditional Assamese and Mishing tribal cuisines. The last leg of the tour takes you to the verdant mountains of Kohima, the land of the fierce Naga tribes, where the more adventurous can taste what is possibly India's most exotic cuisine - dishes that are a mix of all kinds of meats, birds and insects, although "normal" food will be available, too.
The seven-night tours go on until the end of April and cost US$1,400 (Dh5,100) per person for a group of two. Visit for more details