This weekend we had a slightly different visit to London. Instead of the usual shopping (although we still managed to do a bit of that !) we visited the Shard. At 1,016 feet high it is currently the tallest building in the European Union (although the planned Hermitage Plaza building in the La Defense area of Paris, scheduled to open in 2019, will surpass the Shard by 67 feet).
There are 72 ‘habitable’ floors with a further 5 floors of the spire on the top of the building. Prestigious offices take up the lower floors, restaurants on floors 31 – 33, a hotel on floors 34 – 52, apartments on floors 53 – 65 and the observation floors of 68 – 72 where we had a wander around.
The day was clear and warm (perhaps a bit too warm and muggy for wandering around London) but you couldn’t fault the views from all around the triple-level observation gallery on floor 69 (i.e. taking up floors 69, 70 and 71) and the partially open floor of 72. Floor 68 was a lift lobby and what’s billed as being London’s highest gift shop where you can buy fridge magnets of the Shard and the like.
Practical completion of the building was in November 2012, so it is a relatively new addition to the London skyline which it dominates. In May 2013 only 6 floors were in use. The restaurants opened for business a year later in May 2014. Whilst there are now a few tenants, the building still has empty offices waiting for companies to take up a prestigious address.
We were certainly blessed with a great day for the views, although as it was hot and muggy we ended up not doing all that much else afterwards. But maybe that also made a nice change as we ended up having a few drinks in a very nice pub-restaurant, The Fire Station, a converted old fire station next to Waterloo station. Then to return home by train, travelling back into the rain after a great day out.