News that the viewing gallery in the Shard could cost 20 of your English pounds to access caused us a slight intake of breath. Twenty quid! Don’t they know London’s got its austerity on? So we thought we’d take a look at what cities around the world charge for skyscraper access, and where else you can get views of London for what pence.
Tokyo takes top honours for allowing anyone up the 202m high Metropolitan Government Buildings for free. At 20 stories shorter than the Shard’s viewing gallery it’s still bloody vertiginous and also provides a quick lesson in going up tall buildings when the weather’s bad: don’t, you can’t see anything, and that’ll be really annoying if you’ve just paid (say) £20 and the top’s surrounded by clouds.
In New York, city of skyscrapers, it costs £15.48 to go to the top of the Empire State Building and £16.12 for the Top of the Rock(efeller Center), from which you can actually see the Empire State Building. (Though if you want to see sunrise or sunset they’ll sting you for £25.50.)
Paris‘s Eiffel Tower costs what now feels like a measly £11.19 to take the lift all the way to the 273m top floor.
In Kuala Lumpur, ascending the tallest (edit: twin) buildings in the world — the Petronas Towers — will relieve your pocket of £10.17.
Back in London, there are other ways to get a view of the city. The Monument is 62m high and costs £3 but you have to do all the legwork yourself (literally). The Golden Gallery at St Paul’s Cathedral is a bit higher at 85m, accessible via 528 increasingly tiny steps. It costs £14.50 get into St Paul’s but if you Gift Aid your admission you get free entry for 12 months. For £8 you can get into the Tower Bridge Exhibition and cross the 44m high walkways, while 30 minutes on the London Eye costs from £17.01.
If you prefer to be more laid back about your viewing, there are plenty of bars and restaurants offering vistas of the capital. If you’re organised enough to book ahead you could try the Paramount bar in Centre Point (£5 for a bottle of Bitburger); Galvin at Windows on the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton will offer you a Budvar for £7.50; there’s tea and coffee for £3 in the Oxo Tower Bar; the Heights Bar at the Saint Georges Hotel on Langham Place doesn’t have an online menu but from memory it’s not extortionate; and Tate Modern‘s 7th floor restaurant will knock you up afternoon tea for £10.95. The Shard will have similar arrangements, with restaurants on floors 31-33.
Alternatively, you could always wait for the cable car and O2 Skywalk to be finished. When the Shard’s viewing gallery price is officially announced we’ll bring it to you, if we can tear ourselves away from collecting 10p coins from down the sofa.