This article is about the newest attraction to open in London: The View from The Shard London. The newest – and highest – way to look at London. You can also listen to a podcast with an interview from the Head of PR for the View from the Shard.
I am a travel and transportation geek, as anyone that follows my Tips For Travellers podcast and blog will know. But being a geek does have some advantages too. It means, for example, that despite being over 50 (yikes, it sounds terrible when I write that) that I still get very excited and even a bit giddy when something comes along that is an engineering or man made achievement. The Shard in London is one such feat. And so I had made sure that I had tickets for the opening of the 68th floor viewing platform for the day it opens. But then along came a chance to see the Shard first hand when press and bloggers were invited to a preview tour during the World Travel Market this month. I had a full on geek attack when I was given a place.
So was my travel geek satisfied by what The Shard had to offer? Absolutely-bloody-lutely.
Every Londoner and every visitor from Stuffy Presidents to Overpaid Movie Stars to Penny Pinching Backpackers must make this their must do, must see and must experience attraction while in London. It is just simply awesome. You will see London like never before. It really is unique and special.
The Shard is a stunning addition to the London skyline. It is a very tall blue glass building in what used to be a shabby part of town around London Bridge Station. The only reason to visit the area before was because you were commuting to work through the station (the oldest in London apparently), to visit the yummy food packed Borough Market on the weekend or go to the hospital. So really only one out of 3 good reasons…
Now The Shard and the knock on effect of the investment is creating a revitalised area which is becoming hip, trendy and interesting. This huge building, designed by Renzo Piano and funded by Qatar money, is the tallest in Western Europe. It will have offices, a Shangri-La Hotel on 34 − 52nd floors, restaurants on 31 − 33rd floors and multi-million dollar apartments.
THE VIEW from The Shard. The advertising standards authority will agree it is a fair claim!
Prince Andrew took advantage of the height and views in November 2012 to abseil down the building for Charity. Window cleaners and construction workers cling to the building every day taking in the views as they work. However, the less brave of us can also get to see London from high up too.
On the 68th and 72nd Floor of The Shard is the visitor attraction called “THE VIEW from The Shard”. They use capital letters for “THE VIEW”, and I think in this case they are justified and should be allowed to use capital letters. What you see does deserves them! From up top you can see 40 miles (that is 68 kilometres for the under 30s among you) and 360 degrees all around London. It is TWICE (I am using capitals now) the next highest vantage point to view London from. Until now The London Eye in Westminster, close to the Houses of Parliament, has been the must see view of London available to tourists. But you just get to see the Westminster area and a bit down the river. From up the Shard you see everything. It is stunning. The only real way to describe it is via the photos and video that I took.
Not cheap views. Expensive but wow.
It is not a cheap trip. It will cost around £24 for adults and about £18 for children. But will give you a great sense of the scale and layout of London. You book in advance in half hour slots between 9am and 10pm, and 200 of you can go up in that time slot and so it will not be crowded in the viewing area. You can stay up there as long as you want. There will be an exhibition at the start of the trip covering the history of London and then you take 2 super fast lifts up, changing on the 32nd floor. The lifts take about 30 seconds each, zooming up the equivalent of 306 flights of stairs.
On the 68th floor is a stunning enclosed viewing area with floor to several stories high glass (a few timid people on the tour had to stand back a few feet from the glass as was pretty scary for them). There is also an open air platform on the 72nd floor. There are these clever devices where you can look at the view in real time and flick between a typical day and night view. If visibility is really bad they will refund people, but they expect that only 2 or 3 days a year.
Listen to and see more from this travel geek about The View from The Shard
• Listen to my interview with Ruth Howlett (Head of PR) from The View from The Shard. Click here to listen to online now, or subscribe to my Tips For Travellers Podcast on iTunes and listen that way.
• Watch the video I made of the attraction on this posting, or on YouTube.
Awesome and impressive. I loved it. The building impressed the geek in me. The sights impressed the love of London in me. It was fabulous seeing the city I live in and adore from this height. Hope you do too.
Watch my video of The Shard and the View From The Shard (68th Floor Viewing Galley)