During the half term break we had a family day out to our capital city, London, and decided to visit The View from The Shard. After one of E’s school topics being about London landmarks, she has shown a lot of interest in them, E was excited about being able to see all of them from The Shard.
We pre-booked our tickets online with a half term special offer of kids go free. It cost us £52 for all 4 of us.
We had the link emailed through to print the tickets off, straight after booking, but I stupidly left this until the morning we were going and then discovered that the kids had used all the ink in the printer scanning their elbows and belly buttons!!!??? (I know it could’ve been worse). This then resulted in me having to ring a friend at stupid o’clock to print them for us and resulted in us missing the train we intended to get. Epic planning failure. The next train got us into London Bridge on time but we wasn’t sure how far the Shard was from the station. We made the decision to get the next train and hoped that there wasn’t any delays.
We are lucky enough to live an hour’s train ride away from London and with children under 16 able to ride the train for just a £1, and under 11’s able to ride the tube for free, meant that we were all able to travel to and around London for the day for £46 for all 4 of us. Missing that first train did us favour as we were then able to travel off-peak.
After the hours train journey, we arrived into the newly refurbished, London Bridge Station. The station is all shiny and new, and has very nice, clean, toilets you don’t have to pay 20p to pee in. The Shard is just outside the station and can not be missed. Standing at 1016 ft tall, it is the tallest building in Western Europe. (I can’t lie, I only know this from the Souvenir book we bought there, lets face it, I can barely remember my own name most days). The View from The Shard is a very short walk from the station and we soon joined the queue to enter at our allocated time slot. On time!
As soon as we entered, the queue split into purchase entry kiosks and pre-booked. Staff where on hand to direct and to scan our tickets before being allowed in through a turn-style. Buggy’s had to be left in a storage area near the payment kiosks as these can not go up with you. We then had to empty pockets and remove belts, to be put through a scanner along with any bags and coats we were carrying. Just like when you go to the airport, we then had to walk through a scanner ourselves. Being a high-profile landmark, it was reassuring to see the security of the building and our protection being taken seriously. It was well organised so didn’t hinder or hold up our entry. We did hear others complaining about how ridiculous it was to have such a high security presence as they felt it wasn’t needed but personally, the tallest building in our capital, made of glass and lot’s of tourists and business people on lower floors, would make it a high-profile target. I know I’d rather be hindered a little than be a sitting duck to a loony terrorist.
After collecting our belongings from the scanner we were ushered to an area to have our photos taken, for purchase on the way out, before being rushed round to a lift. We were well packed into the lift, now I understood why prams could go up with you. My poor 6-year-old had someone’s bum in her face, not the view she was expecting!! The lift was very fast-moving, moving 6 metres per second, and it stopped at floor 36 before the doors opened and a member of staff met us and took us around to another lift. Again packed in and fast-moving the 2nd lift stopped at floor 69, the Indoor viewing Gallery. This was as far as the lift would take us so we all had to get out on this floor. The view on this floor was amazing, with floor to ceiling windows and nothing to obscure your view. To help identify all of London’s landmarks were some telescopic viewing screens which the kids loved using. We were lucky, it was a beautiful sunny day but had the view been ruined by bad weather, it was comforting to know that our tickets came with a ‘Guaranteed View’ meaning if the weather was bad, we would be able to have our tickets re issued for another day. There is also a champagne bar on this floor but you can just get a coffee.
We then climbed the 3 flights of stairs to the 72nd floor. The highest floor. The open air sky deck. (There is a lift for wheelchairs and disabled) The view up here was breath-taking. It was also a bit chilly, worth knowing if visiting in winter months. It was busy and Mr C found it amusing that people were sat on the artificial grass having picnics. Although it was busy, it wasn’t packed and there was plenty of chances to get up close to the glass and take pictures and selfies. H didn’t like it, she felt like she was on a rollercoaster so chose not to get too near the glass. There was no rush to go back down and no one seemed to be timing us or expecting us to go down after a certain time. It was nice to be able to take it all in at your own pace.
There is toilets on the 68th floor which you can take the steps too. E as usual needed a ‘wee’. There were 5 ladies toilets and we waiting a while. After finally getting to go in the cubical, we realised why. When we went into the toilet it was like a personal viewing booth with a floor to ceiling window behind the toilet. After telling Mr C, he had to go check them out and take a ‘poo with a view’ selfie. There is also a disabled toilet with the same view and a baby change facility.
I think we spent about an hour up at the top and eventually we decided to take the lifts back down to the bottom. On our way out we were offered to purchase a souvenir book with 3 photographs of us as family that were taken on our way in. It was £20 and we decided to buy it as we don’t get many photos taken of us as a family. I’m glad we did, as the girls love looking at it, reading out different facts about the Shard. E even took it into school for show and tell. We then exited through the gift shop to the tube station to go and find some of the landmarks we saw from The View from The Shard.
Interesting Fact’s about The Shard
- The view from the top of the Shard stretches 40 miles – the equivalent of 5800 London buses end to end!
- The building has 306 flights of stairs!
- If you stood on the pinnacle of The Shard you would officially be in civil aviation air space!
- The Shard has its own Hotel on levels 34-52. The Shangri-La Hotel. You can stay in one of its rooms with a view. Mr C looked into this and a nights stay will set you back around £450!!!
- Levels 53-65 are the highest residential apartments in London and offer exclusive views over the whole city. There are 10 apartments, and according to the Mail, they cost between 30 to 50 million pounds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- The Shards developers’ key aim was to build a vertical city incorporating accommodation, offices, restaurants and public space.