Up, up and away!

Up, up and away!

In terms of views, hoteliers and restaurateurs have been raising the stakes in London over recent years, from constructing a one-room boat-shaped hotel atop Royal Festival Hall to experiential dining on the London Eye.

View from The Shard looks set to overshadow the lot when it opens in Western Europe’s tallest building, the 310-metre high Renzo Piano-designed Shard, next February.

For starters, whimsical illustrations of Londoners past and present, including Margaret Thatcher and Karl Marx sharing a tandem bicycle, and Dame Vivienne Westwood styling King Charles I as Vidal Sassoon spruces his wig, greet visitors on the ground floor.

A dramatic track composed specially by the London Symphony Orchestra builds suspense as viewers are whisked 244 metres above the city in 30 seconds. Visitors then climb up a floor to levels 68 and 69, where they can peer out of the floor-to-ceilings windows; those with a head for heights can step out at floor 72.

The 360-degree view stretches 64km across the city, and is enhanced by digital touch screen telescopes called ‘Tell:scopes’, through which you can see landmarks, such as St Paul’s and Tower Bridge, and get a brief history of 200 sights.

On floors 32-34 will be restaurants and bars with views to rival those from the Heron Tower’s newly opened Sushisamba and Duck & Waffle. And those that missed out on a night at A Room for London, atop Royal Festival Hall, can sleep in the Shangri-La Hotel, opening on floors 34 to 52 early in 2013.

View from the Shard opens 9am to 10pm daily from 1 February 2013. Tickets cost ?24.95; to book, visit www.theviewfromtheshard.com

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