Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Looking down on London

On Jan 18th we were privileged enough to be invited by our friends at Better Bankside (did we mention they've got a lovely new website?) for a private viewing at the top of The Shard.

Situated almost on top of London Bridge station it's only a short walk away from our offices and, over the three years it's taken to build, we've watched it slowly (and occasionally not so slowly) launch itself into the sky.

Although its architecture and imposition on the skyline of London have been controversial, it's impressive both in its scale and engineering. As the second tallest building in Europe, it certainly towers above everything else in the city.

We'd been praying for clear skies for our visit, but then the snow hit, so we weren't too sure what we'd actually see up there. Given that the top half of the spire was shrouded in mist the day before, we were worried that the view out would be equally grey. However, it must have been our lucky day as the snow stopped just in time.

The main reception is still being worked on but you can instantly see that the plan is to make this a key tourist spot – there's an impressive video wall that greets you on the way in before reaching the inevitable ticket and security checks.

The gift shop features all manner of London related touristy stuff – in prime place we noticed 'Origami London' by our friend Mark Bolitho (who'll you remember created the bespoke Origami animals featured in our latest calendar - not seen it yet? If you missed that last month, go check it out here).

There's even a slightly forced, theme park style camera shoot before you make your ascent, where you get to see yourself superimposed on a rather poor image of the London skyline. They're poor quality and overpriced, but it's the thought that counts (and of course, you don't have to buy them!).

On then through the building and into the first lift - which is all very impressive with a video ceiling depicting 'typical English weather' – yes, you get virtually rained on as you shoot up 33 floors. It feels like you've just stepped inside when they're ushering you out again and into another lift. Yet again, there's barely a sense of movement and you're out on the 68th floor. It really doesn't feel like you've moved at all so it comes as quite a shock when you first look out at the vista.

So, the question on everyone's lips, is it worth the rather steep £25 ticket price?

Well, it's pretty damn impressive, let's put it that way! Have a browse of our photos on the link below, bearing in mind that these weren't taken with a professional camera and that the weather really wasn't great. In terms of viewing distance you'd be better off going during the day, but in terms of spectacle London looks simply beautiful at night. I'd recommend going just before sunset to get the best of both worlds, and therefore the best view.

A mere 800ft (250m) above London may not sound like much, but it's closer to being in an aeroplane than a tall building – you're quite literally looking down on most of central London. I can only imagine how far you could see on a really clear day, but even in the limited haze of a snowy January evening, it really was spectacular. It opens to the public on February 1st, but in the meantime...

» get a sneak preview of the view (at night)

» you can also view an interactive 360 panorama (via The Guardian)

For those of you who fancy a visit but don't want to stump up the £25 fee, we're giving away two tickets to one lucky reader, aren't we kind? All you have to do is fill out our short survey, answering a few questions on our monthly e-newsletter, so that we can make it even better... We'll then put all those who respond into a free prize draw and let the winners know at the end of February.

Some simple terms and conditions:
1. The closing date for entries is 12.02.13.
2. A name will be drawn at random on 13.02.13 .
3. Only one entry per person.
4. No cash or prize alternatives.
5. Only completed forms will be entered.
6. One entrant will win a gift certificate for two tickets for The View from the Shard.
7. They are open for 1 year from registration
8. Find out more from the official site:


Anonymous said...

I thought we'd see some fab photos of the view... who wants to see books when you had a chance to show us awesome views we've never seen before!

Ben Jackson said...

Hey, thanks for your comment, but you missed the photos link! click on the bit that says sneak preview 'here'. Apologies if that wasn't clear enough.

Anonymous said...

Great pics, thanks! Unfortunately I wasn't able to join the Better Bankside group that evening so it good to see what I'd missed.

Ben Jackson said...

glad we could help! It's really a spectacular view.

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