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The Shard: your ultimate guide

However impressive The Shard is from the outside, there's nothing like the view from the inside. Get the most out of your visit with our ultimate guide to The Shard

© The View from The Shard

The Shard, London's tallest building, was not universally well-received when it was completed in 2012. For every fan of architect Renzo Piano's crystalline, church steeple-inspired skyscraper – rescued from the jaws of recession by Qatari investors in 2008 – there's at least one detractor, angry that the 1,016-foot-tall hulk was ever allowed to bully its way into sightline omnipresence.

But if views of The Shard are controversial, the views from it are not. At 800 feet, the building's ticketed viewing platform The View from The Shard is nearly double the height of its closest competitor, the London Eye. From that high up London is Lego, the Thames a blue shoelace. Even the peaks of the City, immediately north, appear suddenly quaint. So, featuring where to eat to what to see a nearby, here's our sky-high guide to a trip up The Shard.

What's all this about The View from the Shard?

Chances are your trip up western Europe's tallest building is for The View from The Shard, a ticketed viewing platform with 360-degree views across the capital and beyond (up to 40 miles on a clear day). The attraction spans three levels of decks (the bottom two enclosed, the third open to the elements above) on floors 68 to 72 of the skyscraper, reached by two super-smooth, high-speed lifts taking just 30 seconds each. Up top, Digital 'Tell:scopes' update the coin-in-the-slot binoculars at traditional viewpoints: touchscreens locate and provide information about important landmarks, zoom in, and toggle between views from different times of the day.

How about opening times and tickets info?

The View from The Shard is open daily from 10am to 10pm. Winter hours, starting in October, are Sunday to Wednesday, 10am to 7pm; and Thursday to Saturday, 10am-10pm. Please note that last viewings start one hour before closing. Tickets cost £25.95 in advance for adults (£30.95 on the day) and £19.95 for children aged 4-15 (£24.95 on the day). 

Hang on, where actually is The Shard?

Up. More specifically, The Shard is in Southwark, just two minutes from London Bridge Station (accessible by rail and the Northern and Jubilee lines tube lines). If you've got 10 minutes to spare, alight at Monument tube station (on the Circle and District lines) and behold The Shard's towering majesty as you cross London Bridge. The site can also be reached by more than a dozen buses that stop outside the entrance to London Bridge Station, including the 43, 48, 141, 149 and 521.

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Eating and drinking at The Shard

Hutong
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Hutong

'Hutong does credit to the growing trend for offbeat Chinese dishes. The service was good, the prices high, but then this is The Shard, not Chinatown.'

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Aqua Shard
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Aqua Shard

'The appeal of drinking while on high is eternal and even a bit inexplicable, but there's no denying it,' said our reviewer. 'Aqua Shard is not the sort of place you'll want to visit every week. But to remind yourself how glorious our city can look while getting pissed, go vertical.'

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Oblix
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Oblix

'A starter of tataki-style beef (£12) was a few tasty morsels while the main course of halibut (£28) was perfectly cooked, though rather oddly served with something resembling a dollop of lemon curd. Pork belly (£16) was perhaps the best dish – the meat pink and tender, the skin nicely crisped, served with a piquant apple chutney. Desserts consisted mainly of ice-cream combinations, though New York cheesecake (£9) was exemplary.'

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Ting
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Ting

What’s this, a new Tellytubby? Actually, Ting is the Shangri-La hotel’s dining space on the thirty-fifth floor of the glistening Shard, but unless you’re blessed with a Tinky Winky-bellied bank account, we’d give the £18-a-starter ‘restaurant’ bit a swerve. Instead, book Ting’s more affordable neighbouring ‘lounge’. This shares its stunning views and statement toilets, which boast glass-walled cubicles, heated seats and buttons offering a choice of bottom sprays including ‘oscillating’ and ‘power deodorizer’. The Shangri-La Group is based in Hong Kong but was founded in Singapore, so it’s nice to find Southeast Asian and regional Chinese street food dishes alongside the oil-money-courting meze and room-service usual suspects (club sandwich, lobster bisque). An £18 chicken and prawn laksa (a thin curry noodle soup) was perfectly adequate, but the moutabal (a chargrilled aubergine dip) lacked smokiness. Most frustratingly, our £18 burger, ordered medium rare, arrived medium well, and when we requested ketchup and mustard they took a full 15 minutes to arrive. You don’t come here for the food, but Ting’s vistas are superb and the loos are a laugh. Where else could you expose yourself to the whole of London without getting arrested? Eh-oh! By Tania Ballantine

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Things to do near The Shard

Old Operating Theatre Museum
Museums

Old Operating Theatre Museum

Britain's oldest surviving purpose-built operating theatre, the Old Operating Theatre Museum is situated in a herb garret in the roof of St Thomas's Church. Built in 1821 for poor women, the theatre has been restored with original furniture and equipment, including a 19th-century operating table, surgical instruments and pathological specimens. Visitors enter via a vertiginous wooden staircase to view a pre-anaesthetic operating theatre with tiered viewing seats for students; sanitised reenactments are sometimes held. Just as gruesome as the operating tools that look like torture implements. Temporary exhibitions also take place, which often combine art with explorations of pathology.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Maltby Street Market
Shopping

Maltby Street Market

During the summer of 2010, a quiet bubble of gastronomic intent was swelling under the railway arches in Bermondsey. This unlikely south-east London backwater quickly became a popular destination for a Saturday morning wander with a bit of grocery shopping along the way. A few years on, many new traders have got involved, the recently Ropewalk has become a full-on street market, and some of the original bunch have moved down the road to Spa Terminus. Ropewalk is now open 9am-4pm Sat and 11am-4pm Sun but Spa Terminus is still strictly Saturdays only (around 9am-2pm for most producers), so that’s the day to take it all in.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Tower Bridge
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Tower Bridge

One of the most famous river crossings in the world, Tower Bridge is actually only 120 years old. Still, the fact that it lifts up in the middle when large vessels are passing underneath makes it an icon that most children probably picture in their minds when singing ‘London Bridge is falling down’. Planes have flown through it, David Beckham has steered a speedboat underneath it and in 1952 a double-decker bus really did ‘leap’ over the gap when the bridge started to lift without warning. At the time when it was built, Tower Bridge was hailed as a miracle of Victorian engineering, with the steam-powered strength to lift up the two halves of the roadway whenever required. For some time, you’ve been able to visit inside the towers, see the steam engines and walk over the high-level pathways, taking in the stunning views from such a height over the Thames. But now the walkways feature a glass floor, so you experience the incredible sensation of standing 42 metres above the water seemingly without anything beneath you. Incredible, that is, for anyone with a head for heights. Morning yoga sessions are even held here, although they sell out very quickly. The Tower Bridge Experience attraction also includes an exhibition celebrating other great feats of engineering in bridge design from around the world, and an art installation as you descend down the ornate staircase. In peak visiting hours or during bridge lifts it’s not always easy to guarantee what time you will be able to

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Globe

Built in 1599 and destroyed by fire in 1613, the original Globe Theatre was at the heart of London’s seedy entertainment district in William Shakespeare’s time. Here, productions were put on by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, who included in their company Shakespeare himself. Although the theatre was rebuilt after the fire, it was eventually torn down in 1644, and as London’s entertainment centre moved west, this stretch of South Bank between Blackfriars and London Bridge was all but forgotten for generations. Fast forward to 1997, when, after decades of campaigning led by the actor Sam Wanamaker, a recreation of the Globe opened very close to where the original had stood. With a design based on as much historical detail as could be found, Shakespeare’s Globe was intended to bring a true theatrical experience to life, plays presented in a manner as close as possible to the kind of setting and conditions The Bard would have originally written for. The modern Shakespeare’s Globe only holds about half the capacity of the original, but you can still get a rich feel for what it was like to be a ‘groundling’ (the standing rabble at the front of the stage) when you come to see a play here, in the circular, open-air theatre. However, a visit here isn’t just a history lesson. The theatre productions here are among the best in London. Each season (spring to early autumn) includes several Shakespeare classics, performed by a company of established and upcoming actors, while works of othe

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Borough Market
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Borough Market

The food hound’s favourite market is also London’s oldest, dating back to the 13th century. It’s the busiest too, occupying a sprawling site near London Bridge. Gourmet goodies run the gamut, from fresh loaves and rare-breed meats, via fish, game, fruit and veg, to cakes and all manner of preserves, oils and teas; head out hungry to take advantage of the numerous free samples. A rail viaduct, vigorously campaigned against, is now in place, which means restored historic features have been returned and works disruption should now be at an end. As if to celebrate, a new Market hall, facing onto Borough High Street, has been opened: it acts as a kind of greenhouse for growing plants (including hops), as well as hosting workshops, tastings and foodie demonstrations. You can also nip in with your snack if the weather’s poor. Discover more great things to do in London Bridge

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Monument
Attractions

Monument

Although the Monument, which commemorates the Great Fire of 1666, is often attributed to Christopher Wren – who did choose its location 202 feet from the baker’s shop in Pudding Lane where the fire originated – it was almost certainly designed by Robert Hooke, the seventeenth-century polymath who also invented the sash window and spirit level. The area at the base was given a makeover in 2007 and the Corporation of London installed a new pavilion with public toilets and facilities for Monument staff. Those who climb the 311 steps to the top are rewarded with a certificate as well as wonderful views of London and the gilded bronze urn at the top of the tower blazing in reflected glory in the roof of the new pavilion. Following the Monument’s reopening in Feb 2009 after extensive but sensitive restoration, a live video stream of images from the top can be seen by visitors at the base who prefer not to tackle the ascent. Discover more great things to do in The City

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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HMS Belfast
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HMS Belfast

Europe's largest cruiser from WWII, HMS Belfast is now a floating naval museum, a landmark on the Thames near Tower Bridge, with its nine huge decks, including gun turrets, punishment rooms and an operating theatre. 'HMS Belfast in War and Peace' tells the story of the HMS Belfast from her inception in the mid-1930s to the decision to save her for the nation in 1971. Original artefacts, documents, plans and drawings (as well as contemporary paintings, photographs, models and audio-visual displays) give a detailed account of the life and times of the warship and the men who served in her. The HMS Belfast makes an unlikely playground for children, who tear around its cramped complex with ease.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Tate Modern

Tate Modern

Thanks to its industrial architecture, this powerhouse of modern art is awe-inspiring even before you enter. Built after World War II as Bankside Power Station, it was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, architect of Battersea Power Station. The power station shut in 1981; nearly 20 years later, it opened as an art museum, and has enjoyed spectacular popularity ever since. The gallery attracts five million visitors a year to a building intended for half that number; the first fruits of work on the immensely ambitious, £215m TM2 extension opened in 2012: the Tanks, so-called because they occupy vast, subterranean former oil tanks, will stage performance and film art. As for the rest of the extension, a huge new origami structure, designed by Herzog & de Meuron (who were behind the original conversion), will gradually unfold above the Tanks until perhaps 2016, but the work won’t interrupt normal service in the main galleries. In the main galleries themselves, the original cavernous turbine hall is still used to jaw-dropping effect as the home of large-scale, temporary installations. Beyond, the permanent collection draws from the Tate’s collections of modern art (international works from 1900) and features heavy hitters such as Matisse, Rothko and Beuys – a genuinely world-class collection, expertly curated. There are vertiginous views down inside the building from outside the galleries, which group artworks according to movement (Surrealism, Minimalism, Post-war abstraction)

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Where to eat near The Shard

Tapas Brindisa
Restaurants

Tapas Brindisa

The upsurge in Spanish food quality in London since the 1990s can in part be dated from the arrival in Borough Market of food importers Brindisa, bringing first-rate Iberian hams, cheeses and other essentials to the city almost for the first time. The firm’s showcase tapas restaurants are equally a benchmark. In early 2011, star chef José Pizarro left to start José, but we haven’t noticed any drop in standards, so you’ll still find an ideal blend of superb ingredients and refined cooking (the latter normally confined to larger dishes). At the original Brindisa in Borough Market, ‘black rice’ (cooked with squid in its ink, with unusually fragrant aïoli) had a superbly smooth flavour, without any acridity; ham croquettes gained extra depth from the quality of the meat. Padrón peppers (Galician peppers simply fried and salted) exemplified wonderful produce being allowed to shine. The style is easy going, prices very reasonable – though inescapably higher for delicacies such as the finest Ibérico meats. Wines are sophisticated and priced accordingly. The only drawback is that it’s often impossible to get a seat at the Borough and Soho branches, as there’s no booking; fortunately, South Ken’s Casa Brindisa does now take reservations.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Elliot's
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Elliot's

Light and airy, with stripped brick walls and a contemporary feel, Elliot’s is a busy little spot full of tourists, dates and business people; in the evenings it can get noisy. Sit out front and watch the world go by, perch at the bar or take a seat in the bright back area with a glass roof above your head. The seasonal, ever-changing menu is small but innovative, and carefully sourced (they deal directly with growers and producers); bread is excellent. Smaller plates such as crab on toast or buffalo mozzarella and polenta are listed alongside larger plates including the ever-popular (but weekday lunchtime only) burger. Served in a toasted sesame seed bun, with fried maris potatoes, a pile of pickles, ketchup and mustard, the burger was too juicy to pick up, and oozed with cheese and fried onions. The meat was tender, delicious and still a little pink in the middle. At dinner, lemon sole, wild garlic and fino (a large plate) was good, but there were no more than a few slivers of wild garlic in the sherry-based sauce, making a side dish a must. Jersey royals with bacon and shallots went nicely with both this and a (small) plate of three scallops with herb butter. Well-mannered, very engaged service is on the evangelical side when it comes to the natural wines (orange wines are listed alongside the expected white, red and rosé).

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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fish!
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fish!

Venue says: Book your Christmas party with us now! Three special set menus available for parties large or small... Merry fishmas!

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Tas
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Tas

The Borough branch of Tas neatly embodies the traits that make this Anatolian chain so popular. The pillared white interior is simply decorated – a wall mosaic here, a framed painting of Turkish women there – but with its artful spot-lighting and liberal arrangement of potted plants, it offers a Mediterranean ambience that on our last visit was bolstered by an elderly guitarist plucking away in the background. The menu lists more than 40 starters alongside a huge range of grills, casseroles and fish dishes, but our selections varied from delicious to disappointing. A hot starter of patlıcan-biber kizartma featured generous chunks of aubergine in a fresh-tasting tomato and yoghurt sauce, but was served lukewarm; better was a cold confection of zeytinli ahtapot salatasi (marinated baby octopus in a salad of red onions, olives and coriander). A main of slow-cooked íncik lamb shank was tender enough to fall off the bone, and came in a rich tomato sauce, but a vegetarian kabak stew of courgettes with tomatoes, chickpeas and potatoes was watery and under-seasoned. As a window into the breadth of Anatolian cuisine, Tas does a commendable job; as a mainstream chain, it might benefit from a less ambitious menu.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Comments

1 comments
Phillip W
Phillip W

"The appeal of drinking while on high is eternal and even a bit inexplicable"


The only thing inexplicable is that daft comment