It is not everyday that a city gets a new monument or structure that will redefine the city; but from now on London has another to add to its collection.
The reception, and obligatory security checks are simple and easy.
Once checked in, you then move to the lifts that will take you up the 68 floors to the observation decks. Even the security area is fun, with lots to see on al of the surfaces. The first thing to notice it the decorated walls. Not just any decoration but thousands of UK and London symbols and icons that you beg you to see if you can spot and know every one.
There are two lifts to get to the Observation Decks. Each lift is surrounded by information and trivia about London and the viewing experience. In the Shard, waiting for the lift has never been so exciting.
Many of the references at the 38th floor lift, which are incorporated into a ‘graffiti area’; seemingly random descriptions and quotes on the floor, walls and ceilings, may be missed by many a tourist. But they are all London references – if you know your London well enough. Somehow I think even a London Cabbie would be challenged.
Once up 68 stories, in one of the fastest lifts on the planet, you open out on the lower(!) observation deck. The first thing you feel is that of openness and space. The area has a roof set 4 stories higher, so you really feel open and free here. this is despite the fact that this level of observation deck is enclosed and warm (or airconditioned cool on a hot day)
Even up at on the 68th floor, you can still be eagle-eyed to the detail below.
The Shard is kitted out with Tell-Scopes, high tech devices that can show the item they are pointed at it extreme detail. But this detail can be shown live as if you were looking at it, or pre-stored in a sunrise, day or night view. This means that whatever time of day you go, you can still experience the full view of London at any time.
The technology in the Tell-Scope gets even better – with a single press of a button you can zoom in or out and with another click get a head-up text display of details on whatever you have focussed on. With another click you can choose any of 10 languages.
Day or night, the Tell-Scopes add the detail to whatever you are viewing, in you language of choice.
And if you got tired in one location, there are Tell-Scopes spaced all around the View From The Shard observation deck to allow you and others to look at things from all sides.
Walking the stairs to the top 72nd floor observation deck, makes you feel even more open and is even more spacious. Half of it is open to the elements, so you get the feel of the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, etc. You get the idea.
The Observation Deck of the Shard is open all around, so you really can walk around the deck and view every possible angle.
Looking down from the 72nd floor you can start to appreciate the openness of the viewing decks. Everything here is about space, room and freedom.
So what is the view from The Shard then I hear you ask. Click here to find out what The View From The Shard really is..
On your way down, you need to stop in the Shard Boutique, or gift shop as everyone would call it. Not only do they have quality souvenirs (no plastic tat here) but you will also be able to say that you have bought something from the highest shop in London.
The Shard will surely become the must see/do location, in the same way as the Eiffel tower is to Paris or the Empire State Building is to New York.
The View from the Shard opens on 1st February 2013. Tickets are £24,95 for adults and £18.95 for children bookable in advance.
The View From The Shard
London Bridge Station
London SE1 9RL