The tower of Babylon, Sauron‘s Tower, some kind of Decepticon – that’s exactly what runs through my mind when I look at the Europe’s largest building towering over London’s skyline. The Shard certainly looked a little odd when it first started rising up in that area of London where where there’s no real skyline. However does this new building warrant the extra £££ over the London Eye?
The whole experience kicks off in the ground floor where they’ve curated a gallery-esque space exploring the capital’s rich history which also serves as an introduction for tourists. Utilising famous personalities from the past and present in a playful manner, these people include the royals (Duh), Spice Girls, Chris Eubank and more. Of course, they’ve got famous London quotes in there and of course they’ve got Samuel Johnson‘s frequently cited quote “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. This is true, how do you get bored in this city? There’s always something to do.
From there, you head to the lift area which takes you to the viewing galleries up in the sky. The lifts on paper travel at 6 metres a second but it honestly feels a hella lot faster than that. 33 floors in a matter of a few seconds, crazy. Even the metal canisters you travel in are premium, each lift has been padded with video screens and mirrors to recreate the kaleidoscopic effect of soaring through iconic ceilings and roofs through London.
During the ascend to the top, we stopped at Level 33 aka The Transfer Zone which has an all enveloping graffiti map of London using quotes and sentences describing each location. See if you can guess the location in the image above, I had to photograph and share it. It’s an easy one, I bet y’all are reading this post from a coffee shop. There’s also a variety of questions sprawled across the walls, if you’re up to scratch with your London trivia then it should be a breeze.
Here’s a few:
• Read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to find clues as to this street’s most famous fictional resident
• Recreate the iconic album cover that was shot just here.
• True cockneys are born within the sound of these bells.
Easy right? Answers towards the end of this feature. Now for the View.
Here’s The View. Isn’t it worth the money? I think it is, especially in comparison to the London Eye which only gives you a limited view of Westminster. The Shard eclipses it with the 360 degree views for 40 miles across the capital. It’s breathtaking on Level 68 and you have access to tell:scopes which are hi-tech digital telescopes that enable users to identify over 200 famous landmarks and places of significant interest automatically.
Now for the big finale, Level 72. You’re at the highest point in the city. The star up in the sky. The mountain peak up high. Hey, you made it. Okay enough of the R.Kelly paraphrasing here, it’s the most profound experience of the View. I was slightly nervous to get close to the edge, you’re up so high that you never know if a strong gust of wind will pick you and drop you. That’s my vivid imagination playing games with me since nothing like that is possible, since you’re surrounded by the giant shards of glass that form the top of the Shard but still exposed to elements through the partially open-air environment.
You’ve also got The Sky Boutique – the highest shop in London up there if you’re interested in purchasing souvenirs. There’s wifi throughout the Shard so don’t worry about not being able to Instagram from top. The perfect caption for your imagery – ‘Started from the bottom…’
That’s all folks. Then you descend back down and return to normal life. London‘s highest peak was definitely worth the trip. It’s the only place you can see the whole city at once, it’s immersive and incredible. I suggest heading up just before sunset so you can get photographs from the day, golden hour and night. If you live in the city, it’s worth going up there once. Go shoot some b-roll, take a selfie or even propose.
Tickets are pre-booked so you escape the queues like at the London Eye. Costs for adults are around £24.95 and £18.95 for children. Head on down from anytime between 09.00am to 22.00pm.