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.