A couple of years ago, the chairman of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, Tim Johnson, said that it was theoretically possible to build a skyscraper two miles high. The Shard, at 306m (0.19 miles) would be a piddling low-rise in comparison, and its bar-at-the-top Gong nothing special. For now, though, it’s the tallest in Western Europe. But is it almost too tall? Halfway up, where ascenders must change lifts, the city below seems more dazzling in its HD detail; here on the 52nd floor, you’ll spend a lot of time toiling to pick out landmarks.
But there’s no question it’s still spectacular. Whichever side you sit on, you’ll be rewarded with views stretching to the South Downs, or Canary Wharf and beyond, or the hills of north Middlesex. That glorious panorama is the reason to visit – Gong’s service certainly isn’t, and the cocktails, while competent, are dizzyingly expensive.
A Lost Horizon, made with Kamm & Sons London bitters and cream, was perfectly pretty with its flower garnish and perfectly acceptable too, but for £17 I’d want the elixir of eternal life. A Bermondsey Bubbles was better, made with Jensen’s gin, rose liqueur and champagne, although still didn’t leave much change from a 20-pound-note.
There’s no point pretending: Londoners could get better food, drinks and service a few hundred metres lower at far less indecent prices. Drinking in tall buildings has always carried with it a premium – and here that’s taken to Himalayan heights.
Level 52, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street
|Opening hours:||Open 5pm-2am Mon-Sat; 5pm-midnight Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: London Bridge tube/rail|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
4.3 / 5
- 5 star:3
- 4 star:3
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
Gong is a stunning bar about 50 storeys from the ground. They do have a minimum cover charge of £30pp, but their cocktails come with a lovely view. Mine also came with a lollipop with a grasshopper in it (gross, but novel!), and though you're not supposed to take glassware into the infinity pool area, after 20:00 you're allowed to sit out there, so we asked the waiter to keep an eye on our things while we ventured out for a relaxing moment by the blue water.
If £30 already seems expensive enough, do like we did - get olives and coffee with petit fours instead of a second £17+ drink.
I totally enjoyed Gong, but I would choose Aqua Shard to it any day. This one is classy, but Aqua's got the jazz and the nicer, all-encompassing views.
Gong was great - £30 per head minimum charge (for a 90 min slot) means it's a treat but the view is worth it. As you'd expect!
Great view (if you're lucky to be sat by the right side of the window that is!), good selection of wines. Set menu was good but more impressed with the dessert and starter than the main. Impeccable customer service but not recommended if you'd like to have a chilled conversation and relax - constantly interrupted by the waiter, too much "is everything alright?" kind of questions.
Champagne with a view: £150
Guaranteed window table for two at the highest bar in Western Europe. Enjoy a chilled bottle of Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut whilst taking in the views of the river Thames and Tower Bridge from the 52nd floor of the iconic Shard building. £25pp charge will be taken should the guest cancel with less than 24 hours notice. Terms and Conditions: Maximum of 2 diners. Includes VAT, excludes service. Valid For: 2 - 2 People Mon-Thu 12:00PM-11:00PMOffer valid until Sep 26 2019
Snap up exclusive discounts in London
Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...