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London Highlife – The Shard Opens:
I’m leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it’s not raining
The Shard opens its doors to the public on 1st February 2013. Visitors will be treated to an unparalleled view of London, from 244m, the highest vantage point from any building in Western Europe. Right in the heart of London, visitors can enjoy a 360-degree view across the City, from the Thames Barrier to Wembley.
From a relatively inconspicuous entrance on Joiner Street (until you look up), you are thrown into a London lifestyle experience. Yes, you have to queue to collect your tickets, but in an area that introduces you to the essence of the City.
And, as you go through security checks on your way to the lifts, you might just recognise some of the faces along the way. It’s quirky urban street culture, grown-up and polished and despite the apparent contradiction, it worked, at least for me!
The lifts themselves are an experience, travelling at six metres a second, my ears popped on the way up. And, when you reach the 68th floor, you can enjoy London as you’ve never seen it before.
I particularly liked the ‘intelligent’ telescopes, which hold a comprehensive database of London sights, so you can find out more about the buildings you find as you walk around the viewing area as well as zooming in on the ant-like figures you see milling around the streets of London. They make the Shard a must visit attraction for newcomers in London if only to gain a sense of orientation.
We arrived on a rather grey winter’s afternoon and I was concerned that the view wouldn’t be astonishing for that reason alone. In fact, visibility was fine despite the weather and I found the landmark near my own home in Earls Court and some rather more famous places too (the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace etc.)
There are semi-open viewing areas on the 72nd floor which is the highest habitable level of the building. The surrounding glass means that you will stay warm and dry, whatever the weather. but there is a real sense of ‘being outdoors…particularly if you look up to the top of the building and open skies.
And as night falls, for me at least, the view becomes quite magical.
Something everyone should experience…I’d recommend a sunset or sunrise viewing slot so that you see the City lights in all their glory. Over the next few months, the Shard’s 95 Stories will become a vertical city with office spaces, restaurants and 10 penthouse flats, as well as the public viewing areas on the top floors and the five star Shangri-La Hotel.
The View from the Shard opens on 1st February. Tickets are £24.95 for adults and £18.95 for children bookable in advance from
The View From the Shard
London Bridge Station
London SE1 9RL