We had my parents staying with us the last two weeks in May, so there was plenty of more or less touristy things to do. We took a clipper to Greenwich and went to the Royal Observatory, dined at the amazing Duck&Waffle, Hawksmoor, our local pub and other good eateries around London, visited the Shard and the Skygarden, I even dragged my mum and dad to the Olympic Park and the enormous Westfield in Stratford since I had to buy a stockpot. A long way to go for a stockpot some’d say, but a rainy day was perfect for hiding in a big shopping centre (for me and less so for my parents).
This was my first time travelling in the quiet lifts to the top of the Shard and enjoying the view and my first time sipping a delicious cocktail in the Skygarden. But which one did I enjoy most?
Both venues will take your breath away with amazing views over London, with the Shard being the tallest building in Europe if you don’t count three skyscrapers in Russia. The view from the Shard is definitely wonderful as you can pretty much see all of London and the viewing computers help with trying to figure out where a certain famous landmark or building is. You can even select different views, such as dawn and dusk, Roman London and other views of London in the past. It’s definitely a toy that keeps even adults entertained. And you don’t have to drop coins in it, it’s just there for you to play with. However, at £29.95 for an adult ticket on the day, or £24.95 if you book online at least 24 hours in advance, the view is expensive. Of course you can spend even more in the gift shops and for a photo of you in front of the Shard, etc. Photos are expensive with £22 for a single one or around £36 for two with a CD, so you can print them at home if you feel like it. There’re also plenty of events happening at the Shard, such as a picnic tea by Fortnum and Mason and similar, so if you want an experience as well as the view, you’ll have to spend some extra pounds. And an extra pre-father’s day tip. If you want to take your dad up for a glass of bubbly and some view, on the 21st June 2015, dad’s go free if you buy one standard ticket. So, here’s almost £30 saved 🙂
In contrast to the Shard, the view from the Skygarden is absolutely free. The trick is that you have to book tickets in advance and you have to know who’s going to be there with you as you have to write down the names of people you want tickets for (and they really do check your ID when you present your ticket). The tickets are released for about two weeks in advance, so no need to crash their site on the one day when they become available. On the 3rd June, tickets were available for 8th to 21st June. Skygarden being London’s highest public gardens, the setting inside is more impressive than the Shard with greenery all around you. There’s also a Skypod bar where you can buy overpriced drinks, but hey the view is free. My lovely Mademoiselle Collins cocktail set me back £11.50 and a pint of lager £5, so you’ll see it’s slightly more than some London prices, but not atrocious and I’d say definitely worth the experience. There’re also two restaurants, but if you want a table, make sure you book in advance as I saw people being turned around before even getting to the lifts. There’s no time limit on your visit, at least we weren’t kicked out, but you have to be downstairs at the time on your ticket to be let up. Sometimes, if there’s availability they’ll let you up, but I suggest you book to avoid disappointment.
I can’t say which view I enjoyed the most as you see London from both, but I guess the decision where to go depends on what you want to spend your money on. I’ll definitely go for another cocktail soon.