The Shard

Star Travel Rating

3/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

The Shard

Date of travel

March, 2016

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

Wife

Reasons for trip

A visit to the Shard, be it fleetingly to enjoy the observation decks or leisurely to luxuriate in the guestrooms, will for many be a bitter sweet experience. Unless you’re extremely well off you’ll marvel at the experience but inevitably question whether it was worth the expense.This iconic building isn’t simply pricey to venture into, it’s eye-wateringly exorbitant.

We were lucky enough to visit for our Silver wedding anniversary, it was a lavish gift from our extended family and many amazing friends. As such we didn’t let the bill get in the way of our enjoyment and we were able to indulge ourselves without a guilty conscience. However, without wishing to appear ungrateful to our benefactors or churlish in any way, I want my review to be warts and all, not just a glowing, biased write up that is more of a ‘Thank You’ letter than a balanced appraisal. Otherwise, what is the point. I may as well just post up directions to the Shard’s own website and let them seduce you with fine words and promises.

This glass monolith is beautiful, no doubt about that. You’d expect little else from the renowned Renzo Piano, especially when the famed architect is given financial latitude. I’m not so sure though it will ever surpass the likes of New York’s Twin Towers, the Eiffel Tower or Petronas as instantly recognisable by folk the world over. And although it certainly isn’t diminuitive, it does fall short of 100 storeys and at 306 metres it’s much less than half the size of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and a mere quarter the scale of some proposed super tall skyscrapers. Which makes me think the £26 fee to take in the view is a little bit steep. Even worse is the absolutely shocking £20 for a four year old. Come on, no one of that age is going to be fascinated by the view, fantastic though it is.

The Shard is fairly close to the Thames so you have wonderful vistas of the London Eye, Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf. St Pauls cathedral likewise is clearly visible and on a clear day it is claimed those with good eyesight can see as far as 40 miles. London makes the Shard, at least it’s observation deck, the reverse would never be the case. So for the view alone I’m going to give it an easy 9 out of 10, value for money is much more difficult, I can’t get it above 5 unfortunately. Thankfully this bit was included in our package.

Next up, wining and dining at the Shard. Again, not for those on a budget. I don’t suppose you’d expect it to be realistically. There are half a dozen places to sip a cocktail, enjoy a pastry and coffee or do things in style and feast on a sumptious meal. We decided on the latter and went for the signature all-in meal at the Shangri-La restaurant. First class in EVERY respect. A window seat and that stunning view, service without the slightest hint of a hitch and food that’s as good as any I’ve had anywhere. Crystal prawn dumplings, sauteed cuttlefish and mango pudding among other things. Beautifully presented, exquisitely cooked, devoured with pleasure. £75 each and another £80 for not many drinks. So £230 for the hour and a half we were in there. Not something we’d be looking to do on a regular basis! Saying that, something I’d just love to be able to do regularly. Top notch.

Our room. When you first walk in you know you’ve booked something special. You’re assailed by light. Floor to ceiling windows that are as big as they can be. Once again making the absolute most of what’s outside, one of the great cities of the world. See it by day, see it by night, both visions equally majestic and hypnotic. And the rest of the guestroom isn’t lacking by comparison, top quality design and fittings. The place just oozes class and I wonder how many better hotels there are in the capital taking everything into consideration. Once again though, to be totally objective I have to comment on the leisure centre. Pristine and luxurious as expected. But the infinity pool is a mere 11 metres by 4 metres, that is tiny for such a vast building (and yes, I do realise it tapers off quite dramatically). It’s not a swimming pool, it’s for lazing about in and admiring the view. With a cocktail or three. But I like to swim so there.

And the cost of the room. A snip at £529 a night, so just over a thousand quid for the two nights we were there. I know I’m being unduly hard on the Shard, you tend to get what you pay for and quality in one of the most expensive cities around is not going to come cheap. And what price do you put on (relatively) unique experiences. I just tend to think you have to draw the line somewhere and ask yourself what else you could have done with all that cash. Believe me, you would not have to try very hard at all to get through FIVE THOUSAND POUNDS A WEEK at this establishment. An astonishingly impressive building, but I doubt I’ll be back. Not before my Golden wedding anyway. So start saving chaps.

mconway

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