On February 1, 2013, The Shard opened in London, making it the tallest building in the European Union and the second-tallest in Europe after the Mercury City Tower in Moscow.
The Shard was designed by architect Renzo Piano and is now an iconic, landmark building on the London skyline. The 95-story building is 1,016 feet (310 meters) high and contains office space, a Shangri-La Hotel (opens this summer), luxury residences, retail space, restaurants, a spa and a five-story public viewing gallery.
To reach the observation decks requires two high-speed ‘kaleidoscopic’ elevators — you switch seamlessly at level 33. The first elevator takes 22 seconds and the second is just a tad more.
There are no bathrooms at the top, so be sure to go before going through airport-like security. The elevator deposits visitors at the 68th floor and from there you walk up flights of stairs to the observation decks.
There’s not a lot of open space but the building is beautifully built with hardwood floors. There’s no time limit so you can spend all day if you like, but I’m guessing most people don’t since there are no bathrooms or restaurants up there.
On the 72nd floor is the open-air observation deck with 360 degree view of the city. The view from there is almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in London and on a clear day you can supposedly see close to 40 miles (64km).
“The View” is open from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm but the last lift departs at 8:30pm.
My verdict: I visited on a cold, cloudy, Sunday in March and found the operation well run and the workers friendly. I didn’t have to wait long to get a ticket (mine was provided by Visit London), to go through security or get to the top. I have a slight fear of heights and this experience wasn’t scary at all. However, the entry fees are not cheap:
- £29.95 for adults
- £23.95 for children (4-15). 3 and under are free.
- It’s £5 cheaper for advance bookings
- If you don’t want to wait in any lines an “immediate” entry is £100pp.
I can see the lines being long on a clear summer day but I don’t recommend getting a ticket well in advance because if it’s cloudy you will be wasting your money. I also think the price is a little steep to visit the 39th tallest building in the world. Don’t you?
Would I go up again? Definitely, but it would have to be for a special occasion and a view at night.
Did you know: You can win one of six themed trips to London!