Reviewed by Louise Totton
My other half and I recently decided to take ourselves away for a few child-free days to London, to experience the capital as a tourist. Well, I really was a tourist – I had never visited the city before. Given as he is originally from London, he most definitely wasn’t a tourist, but we made sure that we did some things whilst we were there that he had also never done before. One of those things was The Shard – the tallest building in the UK and EU, and the fifth tallest building in Europe at over 1,000ft and 96 stories high.
Visiting The Shard isn’t cheap, but fortunately there are options other than paying the full gate price for admission. One of these options is to buy through Buyagift. Buyagift allow you to choose and book a range of experiences from their website, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. A quick browse of their website revealed plenty of options for things to do in Central London, including The Shard, riverboat cruises, afternoon teas, London Zoo and plenty more. We were already keen on visiting The Shard, so opted for that option, which offers a fantastic saving of £16.90 (27%) on the gate prices.
Buying from a company like Buyagift, you would expect the whole thing to be delivered in a way that is ‘giftable’, and this is exactly what you get with Buyagift. A really nicely presented gift card is sent out in the post with details of the booked experience on it. The recipient then logs onto the Buyagift website to activate their voucher. Depending on the experience, some gifts would then need pre-booking. In our case, a voucher was simply downloaded and this could then be taken along to the attraction at any time without the need to pre-book, and is exchanged for tickets.
The Shard is located just outside the exit of London Bridge tube station, so after we disembarked the tube, we were inside The Shard’s reception within 5 minutes. We exchanged our vouchers for tickets and were then pointed in the direction of the security checks. I have to say that I found these really reassuring – we went through security similar to that of an airport, and all of our bags were scanned. We were then shown in small groups to the lifts.
We took two lifts up to the first viewing floor, which is fully indoors. We had decided to go at night as I really wanted to see the city lights. Inside the viewing area is quite dark – presumably to allow you to fully experience the city by night with the best effect. There is a champagne and cocktail bar on the floor and I have to say that the whole experience felt very special and ‘VIP’. We had been told we could spend as long as we liked in the viewing area, all the way up to closing time, and the views there were quite stunning. We could have spent an awful long time up there!
We were really lucky with the weather; it was a fantastic crisp, clear November evening so we had views for miles. The official website says up to 40 miles, which I can well imagine to be true! We could see the London Eye, Parliament, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, Canary Wharf, Festival Hall and an awful lot more. Both of the platforms offer the most amazing 360 degree views – the views were quite simply stunning!
We then walked up another couple of flights of stairs to the main outside viewing platform, which is on the 72nd floor. Whilst still shrouded by the shards of glass and therefore perfectly safe, the top is open. We could really feel the altitude we were at as it was really windy and cold up there, even though it had been quite still at ground level.
This was a fantastic experience. We went towards the end of our 5 day trip to London and it was great to be able to put some of the sights we had seen and their locations into context. We had a wonderful time and would like to visit again, probably in the daytime next time as I imagine the experience would be very different.
If we do this again, or even a similar type of day out, I will absolutely be checking out the Buyagift website before we book as the savings are great and the presentation of the gift is gorgeous.
For more information or to buy visit www.buyagift.co.uk.