A few weeks ago on a warm and sunny day, Hubby, Little Bean, Beanie Boy and I popped down to London for the day to visit The Shard and The Tower of London. Jelly Bean stayed at home for a bit of quality time with Nanna and Curly was at his Mum’s house for the weekend. We had seen The Shard on previous visits to London but we hadn’t really thought about visiting until we were invited to by Persil for the #KidsToday project which I wrote about soon after our visit.
The Shard stands at 800ft tall (244m) and was designed by Master Architect Renzo Piano.
When planning your visit to The Shard you need to book your ‘queue’ time which is a half hour slot where you need to join the queue. Our queue time was 12.30pm but we didn’t actually make it through the front door until 1.00pm because the queue was so long and we arrived early. Waiting to get into The Shard reminded me of the queues at a theme park where you snake around the bollards and then once through the doors you’re faced with . . . another flipping long queue inside!
Once inside we had to queue to go through a further set of doors and once through those, we had to queue to go through the ticket gates (are you noticing a theme yet?) Once through the ticket gates, you then have to queue to go through security which is pretty much the same setup as going through Airport Security. After the security gates came further queues, firstly to have your photograph taken and then to get into the first lift with takes you to the 33rd floor. Coming out of the lift on the 33rd floor you are faced with a wide ‘L’ shaped corrider which is covered on the floors and walls with map of London but again, there was a queue which was the full length of the corridor.
When we finally made it to the 68th floor we had to walk up one small flight of stairs before we saw the breathtaking view of London before us. Before I had even considered visiting The Shard I will admit that I had thought to myself I probably wouldn’t see anything very different to what I had already seen from The London Eye but how wrong could I have been? The Shard is more than double the height of any other building in London. Since the sun was shining, it was possible to see for miles and the views were stunning. On the 68th floor you are fully indoors, but as you climb the stairs to the 72nd floor you are hit by a breeze as the four corners of The Shard are open to the elements.
All around the viewing decks there are interactive touch-screen telescopes to tell you what you are looking at which can be rotateed or tilted according to what you are looking at. They are a modern equivalent to the Tourist Telescopes of old and the Beans loved playing with these.
When you get to the top viewing deck, make sure you look up at all four corners to see just how much further The Shard actually goes. All four corners are different too.
I have always wanted to get a decent photograph of St Paul’s Cathedral but because it’s tucked away behind other buildings it’s a difficult one to get. From The Shard I was able to get probably the best photograph I am ever likely to get.
Coming down we again had to queue around three sides of the 68th floor, down some stairs, along a corridor and around to the two lifts of which only one was working on the day we visited. In total we spent 2 hours 40 minutes at The Shard but only 45 minutes of that time was actually spent on the Viewing Decks which means the rest of that time was spent queuing. To say that there were a lot of people moaning and complaining about the queues would be an understatement and we were all offered a form to complete on exit to present our thoughts to The Shard but lots of people refused to take it saying things like “you don’t want to know my thoughts, believe me”. I spoke with a couple of members of staff who said that Saturday is definitely their busiest day and it had been made worse by the lift breakdown but our response and the response of many other visitors who we spoke to were that the management of The Shard shouldn’t be so greedy and should reduce the number of ticket sales to make it more comfortable for their visitors to enjoy it.
We had a very quick look around the shop where the prices were more reasonable than we expected them to be until we visited the Photo Desk to have a look at our photographs which were taken as we entered The Shard. We looked at the photograph which was taken in front of a green screen, it was OK but it wasn’t great. The salesperson gave us the whole spiel about how we could have a view from The Shard as the background, a nightscene, a day scene and one other which I can’t remember now and then came the price . . .
£25 for ONE photograph OR we could have all four for £38!!!! Seriously?
We did enjoy our experience at The Shard but unfortunately it was spoilt by the excessive queuing especially with two young children. There was nothing to keep children or adults entertained whilst queuing which made the queues seem all the more stressful for us and others with young children.
Top Tips for a successful visit to The Shard
- Visit on a weekday to avoid the queues
- Take a camera, you will want to capture those views
- Find someone nice to take your photograph for you to avoid paying the ludicris prices when you get down to the shop.
- Visit the toilet whislt you are there, there is something quite liberating about a bathroom with a floor to ceiling window at your side!
- Do walk the extra flights of stairs to the top viewing deck, it does give a different perspective.
DISCLAIMER: Our tickets were provided for the purpose of the #KidsToday project. I was not required to write this post. All words, images and opinions are my own and may not be copied without my permission.