A day in the life…
New starter Anna documents the highlights of starting out in the events industry. This week, she writes about the end to her first week here at Principal with a trip to the iconic Shard, dining at infamous Hutong – a firm favourite amongst everyone in the office! It’s a tough life…but someone has to do it…
‘It’s every claustrophobe’s nightmare – embracing the elevator to whisk us to the 33rd floor of the iconic Shard, every prize comes at a price I suppose..! I can’t take the stairs, can I? Before there is even enough time to contemplate this thought any further, the doors have opened and we are welcomed into the atrium over-looking London’s breath taking city scape, perhaps 10 seconds of discomfort was worth it!
Despite having opened these doors to diners only four years ago, The Shard has firmly established itself as one of London’s top landmarks. Its location in the heart of London Bridge ensures that it remains central to the city, yet dining from above allows for a level of detachment from the buzz below, leaving guests to admire the view in the most serene of atmospheres. I’m instantly relaxed on entrance by the low hum of chatter and the Asian inspired aromas that make my stomach rumble!
We are are first given a whistle stop tour of one of the city’s hottest event destinations, Aqua Shard situated on Level 31. The three-storey glass atrium on arrival certainly provides the wow factor – it is arguably the ultimate destination bar and lucky for us, it’s a sunny Friday afternoon allowing us to make the most of it’s exceptional views. Its atmosphere is lively with guests sitting in a stylish interior, adorned with Liberty of London fabrics. Offering contemporary British cuisine, much of the produce is sourced locally from Borough Market around the corner and makes for a diverse and flavoursome menu.
Without lingering too long, we ascend the stairs to the floor above housing Hutong, offering a high-end, contemporary take on northern Chinese food, and our spot for lunch. Seated in a semi-private room, we’re surrounded by carved wooden screens and crimson lanterns that not only add to an atmosphere reminiscent of old China, but frame the view through the floor to ceiling windows of The Thames, St Pauls and Tower Bridge to name but a few. After a clink of the glass to toast the Friday afternoon treat, we’re suddenly presented with a range of delights including the signature dish, the Red Lantern – a basket full of crispy soft-shell crab, mixed in with dried lantern chillies. The dish is a firm favourite between regulars and first timers, adding an element of theatre as guests sift through the vibrant lantern chillies to discover the tasty crab. That element of theatre continues with arguably the best duck in London, carved for us at our table, and displayed on a bamboo tray ready to turn into duck pancakes – delicious.
The versatility of the space at both Aqua Shard and Hutong should also be emphasised. Whether requiring private dining rooms in either restaurant, the entire level exclusively, or anything in between, each request is carefully considered and made just as unique.
As a venue, the best of London is showcased, and you cannot help but feel spoilt when dining in such a reverred environment.
Easily accessible, with spacious lifts travelling a speedy 6 metres per second, there was, on reflection, nothing to worry about – especially when what awaits at the top is something as special as Hutong. Our visit comes to an end, and on noticing the incredibly instagrammable Wishing Tree on our exit, we end up writing out our own unique wishes to adorn the branches – could I have hoped to end every week at work like this? Maybe…’