Throwing shade most unapologetically over London, The Shard is one attention-grabbing beauty. But this special skyscraper is more than steel and spectacular views. If you’re looking for reasons to visit The Shard, wrap your retinas around this list and you’ll soon be adding London’s monolithic landmark to your list.
If you’re planning on popping the question, leave your visit to The Shard as a last-second surprise, or your future fiancé might just get suspicious! The Shard has seen its fair share of proposals, and even offers a ‘proposal package.’ As well as a personal concierge to ensure the important event all goes to plan, the package includes an exclusive 30-minute hire of The View from The Shard, a private area decorated with hundreds of rose petals and candles, flowers, champagne, a photographer… and even a personalised romantic soundtrack. (Barry White, you’re hired.)
If you’re not quite there yet, you can always impress someone new with a cocktail at GONG, on the 52nd floor. It’s the perfect place for a first date sundowner or a late-night drink when visiting The Shard. Looking for one of the most romantic restaurants in London? Hutong gets a slightly higher “romance” score than Aqua Shard, thanks to its intimate seating arrangements. Each table for two gets its own floor-to-ceiling glass window in a vertical corridor. Whisper sweet nothings to your heart’s desire – it’s designed so that even the waiters won’t walk past you!
2. It’s the tallest building in… several places
The Shard, belittling the Big Smoke from 310 meters (1,017 feet) above the hustle and bustle, has boasted a number of “tallest building” claims over the years. Although it’s hard to keep up with the ever-changing additions to the list. Once the tallest building in Europe, The Shard’s bragging rights were soon transferred to the Lakhta Center, located in Saint Petersburg.
Still, the mighty London cloud-piercer meets a list of ‘tall’ orders. It’s the seventh-tallest building in Europe and the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom. That has to count for something when you’re ticking it off your bucket list.
3. High-flying diners can choose from three restaurants
If your head for heights is complemented by a healthy appetite, this is the place for you. On floors 31 to 33, foodies have the choice of the New York grill-inspired Oblix, the northern Chinese cuisine of Hutong, and the contemporary British offerings of Aqua Shard.
All three serve up sensational views of London along with top-quality fare. Just make sure you book your table in advance to avoid disappointment. Leave your shorts, flip flops, sports kits and trainers at home; this is fine dining, people. Besides, who doesn’t want an excuse to dress up and dine out in style?
4. The Shard viewing platform spans three whole floors
The View from The Shard is not just any old observation deck, it’s a modern, entertaining, educational experience with the wow-factor, and it covers floors 68, 69 and 72. You could say it’s the real highlight of visiting The Shard.
Floor 68 is home to Cloudscape, a feature that shows the different types of clouds you might see hovering over London when you visit The Shard. Floor 69 hosts a series of interactive telescopes that will treat your eyeballs to over 200 famous landmarks. And then there’s Floor 72: the highest point open to the public, and partially open to the elements. Once you’re up there, The View from The Shard offers a surprise bonus depending on the weather. Prepare for a spot of lovely London rain or drizzle, or if you’re lucky, sun-flooded views up to 40 miles across the city.
5. It has a loo with a view
Why waste a wee on some pedestrian ground-level public toilet? Pah! While visiting The Shard, you can do your business 244 metres above London, all while enjoying aerial views through fabulous floor-to-ceiling windows. Your tickets to The View from The Shard are worth every penny when you can literally ‘spend a penny’ this way. In fact, there are few ‘thrones’ on Earth that could compete with this one. Take a seat, and take your time as you relieve yourself to the ever-changing weather patterns.
6. The lift zooms you skywards at six metres per second
Video ceiling panels take your journey to the next level – literally – when you visit The Shard. The skyscraper’s super lift puts Willy Wonka’s great glass elevator to shame, only just falling just short of shooting people through the clouds. This speedy ride might make your ears pop, but the views from 68 stories above the city of London give you some idea of what it is that birds see when they swoop across the Big Smoke.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London Eye, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s, the Thames and more are quickly available for your viewing pleasure, from heights of more than 300 metres. Best of all, the elevator is so smooth, you’ll barely feel the ascent.
7. You might find a stray wild animal at the top
No joke! During the build, construction workers found a fox near the top of The Shard and called it Romeo. This plucky furry friend was discovered quite content on the 72nd floor. Nobody knows how he got to visit The Shard, really, or how he got so high up, but it’s believed that he’s enjoyed a tasty spread of food left behind by the construction workers.
The fuzzy fox was captured and moved to the Riverside Animal Centre in Wallington, where he was given some proper grub, before being released back into the wild. Nowadays, his legacy lives on in the form of Romeo plush toys, available for sale at the tower, as well as in the Shangri-La. All proceeds go to a local charity.
8. The Shard came about thanks to an ex-fashion retailer
Not content with being “just” an English fashion retailer, Irvine Gerald Sellar turned to property development and founded the Sellar Property Group. The Shard was later based on Sellar’s imagining of a ‘vertical city,’ which would soar from London’s skyline with multiple purposes and a variety of spaces inside.
Taking inspiration from the spires of London churches, as well as the masts of tall ships depicted by 18th-century Venetian painter Canaletto, Renzo Piano worked with Sellar and designed The Shard as a masterpiece of architecture emerging from the River Thames. Not a bad legacy for the son of a glove-shopkeeper-turned-market-trader, who left school at 16. (Dream big, folks!)
9. The Shard was designed to be largely environmentally friendly
You can feel pretty good about your choices when you visit The Shard viewing platform, even if it’s raining at the top. 95% of the construction materials were recycled, and its triple-glazed windows, complete with a layer of sun-shielding UV protective glass between the inner and outer sheets, make it extremely energy efficient.
As it stands, The Shard’s accessible, environmentally-friendly floors comprise 27 sky-high office spaces, three floors for restaurants, 18 for the luxury Shangri-La Hotel (from the 34th to 52nd floors) and 13 for private residences. The impressive spire takes up a whopping 23 floors. Interestingly, if you’re staying at the Shangri-La Hotel, you can also take a dip in Europe’s highest swimming pool on the 52nd floor.
10. You can climb it, or BASE jump from it… but it’s not recommended
On March 12, 2016, a man who remains anonymous managed to sneak his parachute in and proceeded to BASE jump from The View from The Shard. He landed quite safely outside Borough Market, where he ditched the parachute and legged it to the London Bridge tube station. His identity is still a mystery.
Adding to the list of Shard-based shenanigans, six Greenpeace woman activists scaled The Shard on July 11, 2013. Their intent was to send a message to Shell, protesting the oil company’s plans to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic. They might have been arrested after unfurling their Save the Arctic flag, but they certainly got some attention.