Like so many others, Spot Cool Stuff first traveled to London as college students. That was more than two decades ago and we still remember falling in love with the British capital for its salty residents, gritty streets and low-rise charm. Back then, we never could we have imagined London as the home of The Shard.
Yet, there it is. At 306 meters (1,004 ft) tall, the gleaming glass and steel skyscraper is the tallest building in the European Union. On a sunny day, The Shard literally casts a shadow on the London Bridge.
The building has been open for a few months now. But only recently has the public been able to eat at one of The Shard’s three main restaurants: Hutong, The Oblix and Aqua Shard. Each restaurant requires taking a non-stop lift to The Shard’s 32 floor. Each restaurant charges sky-high prices though, happily, each also offers views to match.
[ ALSO ON SCS: The View From The Tokyo Skytree ]
Travelers can also experience The Shard from its glass-surrounded public viewing areas on the 68th and 72nd floors. Though that will cost you too: £25 per person if you book tickets 24 hours in advance, £30 otherwise. For a virtual, but free, look at the view check out this webpage.
In addition, a Shangri-La hotel will also be opening in The Shard, though who knows when — the oft-delayed opening is currently scheduled for October 2013. The hotel will have it’s own restaurant on the 35th floor along with a bar (and fitness center) on 52nd. Once open, the Shard’s Shangri-La Hotel will immediately become a top candidate for the best hotel room view in London.
Of the three restaurants, we’re partial to Hutong — it has the best decor and best overall food. Aqua Shard is the least expensive (although that’s not saying much at these pricey places). Oblix has the best desserts. More details on each is below.
Whichever of the restaurants you choose, you’ll get a view of London like you’ve never seen before.
Cuisine: Northern Chinese
Special feature: Special lighting virtually eliminates window glare, making for clear views throughout the day and night.
Food not to miss: Anything with duck — Hutong dedicated duck-roasting kitchen. Order the Peking duck and the chef will come to your table and carve it for you.
Cost: The above-mentioned Peking duck costs £58. Ouch!
Learn more: aquahutong.co.uk
Oblix At The Shard
Cuisine: New York City-inspired rotisserie and grill
Special feature: A sommelier station where you can taste a variety of wines before choosing one to pair with your meal.
Food not to miss: The desserts (especially the cheesecake) which most diners find better than the entrees.
Cost: Figure about £50-60 per person plus drinks and service. There’s a cheeky £12 surcharge for sitting at a lounge table after 9pm.
Learn more: oblixrestaurant.com
Special feature: The urinal in the men’s room might have the best view from a restroom in Europe. (Pic to the right)
Food not to miss: The gin and tea inspired cocktails
Cost: Most entrees are from £16 to £33. We like the 3-course lunch sample menu for £28.
Learn more: aquashard.co.uk