A Visit to the Shard

I recently (finally) arranged a trip to the viewing point at the Shard, which I think is an experience all Londoners (and tourists too) should definitely experience. I was a bit unlucky with the weather and the time slot I was able to book at short notice so the day was quite rainy and it was already dark when I got to go up. However, the view was still extraordinary! Despite my slight fear of heights, the shape of the building seemed to make even someone as nervous as myself feel safe up on the 69th floor.

Although certainly not the highest skyscraper in the world (it's the highest in Europe), it does stand taller than London's nearest competitors and the height is enough to see as far as Hampstead Heath on one side and Berkshire on the other - on a clear day!

The tower itself totals 87 storeys (approx. 306m) and contains 72 habitable floors, with the viewing station on floors 68-72 (approx. 244.3m). It was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and replaced Southward Towers, a 24-storey office block built in 1975. The Shard was developed by Sellar Property on behalf of LBQ Ltd and is jointly owned by Sellar Property and the State of Qatar. Its construction began in March 2009 and practical completion was achieved in November 2012. The viewing deck opened to the public on 1 February 2013.

Read on to see more of what the Shard has to offer - with such an array of amenities and three restaurants that are open to the public daily, it's certainly worth visiting the Shard even if you don't want to spend the extra to go up to the top floors.




As well as the view, the Shard benefits from other amenities such as residences, a hotel, three restaurants (floors 31-33, so high enough for a fabulous view) and offices. These amenities are what have earned the Shard the title of 'Vertical City'.


Residences: If you've got around £50 million to spare, why not invest in a mansion in the sky? The two--storey apartments on the 64th and 65th floors of the shard are expected to be as large as six or seven bedrooms. The apartments will all have a 360 degree view with the lift-shaft and other utilities having been built in the middle of the tower. The building will also 'self regulate' to control the in-built blinds - lowering them on sunny days and retracting on darker days (although apparently there is an override feature). There will also be three two storey duplexes and seven single-storey laterals on floors 53 to 65, with the penthouse duplex on the top. Residents will have access to the facilities of the below hotel Shangi-La, including the swimming pool and high-speed lifts.




Shangri-La Hotel: The Shangri-La hotel is expected to open this summer, following a number of fit-out delays. It will comprise of 200 luxuriously finished rooms on floors 34-52 with breathtaking views and a 5-star service. As well as the view, the hotel boasts a wide array of amenities, such as a gourmet deli, international restaurant, iconic bar and premium even spaces and services. There will also be a gym and infinity pool featuring panoramic views of the London skyline. Reservations are not yet open.




Restaurants: The Shard offers three restaurants between the floors 31-33.
Hutong: Located on the 33rd floor, Hutong serves Northern Chinese fusion cuisine and takes its inspiration from the dishes served in the imperial palaces of Peking.
Aquashard: Located on the 31st floor, Aquashard serves innovative contemporary British cuisine and a number of original cocktails, boasting fabulous views and a three-storey atrium floor.
Oblix: Located on the 32nd floor, Oblix offers sophisticated, urban, casual dining. The menu offers dishes from spit roast, charcoal grill and wood fired ovens.

On my visit, I chose Aquashard and tried one of their signature tea inspired cocktails (it was quite a concoction) and enjoyed the night-time views over London. The restaurant had a great atmosphere and seemed to transition very well between restaurant and cocktail bar for the evenings.





Offices: The Shard website boasts that 'studies show that inspiring workplaces produce happier and more productive workforces' - I imagine they presume that a panoramic view over the capital and abundance of natural light and air (with naturally ventilated winter gardens on each floor) would do something to inspire the workforce. Unfortunately, I don't imagine Ardesia Design will be relocating to the Shard offices any time soon.