Kurt Macher started out as an apprentice chef 33 years ago and his career in hospitality has subsequently taken him on a journey throughout most of the roles that make up a hotel; front office, guest relations, concierge, food and beverage and housekeeping. Kurt’s hotel career has allowed him the opportunity of travel the globe, from Nevis to Singapore, Canada to Chicago, and finally, to London, where he became General Manager of Shangri-La The Shard, London; the highest hotel in Western Europe.
The Shard was designed by architect, Renzo Piano and following its completion in 2014, Shangri-La The Shard, London opened its doors as the first and only flagship Shangri-La hotel in London. The hotel holds the title of the UK’s highest wedding venue and is licensed for couples to legally get married up in the sky. It can’t be denied that Kurt has one of the most beautiful views from his office window – arguably, unbeatable.
How would you describe Shangri-La The Shard, London?
As we are located within The Shard skyscraper, the building itself can feel quite cold and corporate, with its shiny glass exterior. We try to surprise every guest walking through the door with colour, fun and a welcoming, warm feeling that makes them feel at ease. Our aim is to make guests feel at home with us, without the more traditional, formal styles of hospitality that you might experience at other luxury hotels. We welcome guests from all walks of life and take pride in tailoring unforgettable experiences, whether it’s a celebration, wedding, or long-awaited holiday. We are also unique in the fact that we offer themed experiences on a quarterly basis and immersive installations throughout the hotel. We aim to bea 5-star hotel, but with a lot of soul!
Tell us something most people don’t know about the hotel?
We are a top proposal hotspot in London, thanks to the magnificent sunrise and sunset views we have over the London skyline. During our high season we are seeing a proposal a day, which we make extra special by setting up bespoke, romantic settings in a private room to make that special moment even more spectacular with balloons, candles, or even personal touches like photos of memories together, framed by a showstopping view of the city below
Describe the kind of people who hang out here?
We welcome guests from all walks of life; from young couples visiting for a date night to families and very special anniversary celebrations. People come from all over the UK and now that travel has been increasing, we are also seeing all types of visitors from all over the world.
Favourite view from the hotel?
From the corner of Sky Lounge, our level 34 event space, you are directly facing Tower Bridge and overlooking the Thames and far out of London. This is one of our most stunning views of all, so we naturally chose this as the space where we host weddings and larger scale events. It’s a very airy and open space with beautiful furniture and double height, floor to ceiling windows.
Who has checked into Shangri-La The Shard, London over the years?
As you can imagine, we welcome many VIPs, including well-known singers and actors, but we must respect the privacy of our guests. I would love to share a story or two, but a GM never tells!
Who’s the chef and what’s your favourite dish?
Our Executive Chef is Paolo Belloni, who joined us earlier this year. He is very passionate about British local produce and we are very lucky to be so close to Borough Market which has some of the best vendors of fresh produce. The Mushroom Toast is a standout dish for me, it’s grilled portobello, shiitake soy, with a special fermented cep powder.
Any hidden corners at Shangri-La The Shard, London?
The view from the men’s bathroom is spectacular! It’s on level 34 just off the Sky Lounge and it looks out over the west of London, from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and St Paul’s.
Favourite room to check in to?
5001, which is one of our Iconic Shard Suites and has a spectacular 180° view of the London skyline. Level 50 is our highest floor with rooms and this suite has a stunning view from the bathtub. The skyline encapsulates you from all the right angles when you are lying in bed and it’s always very peaceful when I stay there. I love that it feels like a junior suite and is spacious enough, but not too big that you get lost in it. It’s definitely a home away from home.
Favourite cocktail (and in which spot)?
GŎNG Bar on level 52, which is the highest hotel bar in Western Europe. The cocktails really match up to the view. I always ask for a Bond-style extra dirty Martini and the mixologists don’t disappoint!
What kind of couples get married here?
We have hosted everything from huge, lavish weddings with thousands of flowers to smaller, more intimate and low-key affairs. While floristry is always beautiful in any setting, we find that the views here tend to divert guests’ eyes somewhat! What is important to us is always being completely bespoke and tailoring each wedding to reflect our guests as a couple. We also cater to a very diverse range of couples. We have inclusive environment and promote a lot of diversity and inclusivity in our initiatives and within our teams. This is something I’m very proud of.
And finally, what’s next for Shangri-La The Shard, London…
In 2023, we will be entering a Spring of Love with romantic experiences and many ways to celebrate with a partner or any loves in your life. It will be a season filled with love-themed decorations and special menus in our restaurants and bars. We saw a record-breaking number of proposals last year and next year we will be celebrating further than just Valentine’s. Looking further ahead in the year, we will also be celebrating the coronation of King Charles III.
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