(Not sponsored!) We took Doofy for a trip up The Shard followed by lunch at Strada at More London. Great views, good food. A fun afternoon despite the fog.
We were the proud recipients of a Red Letter Days voucher for Christmas and decided to use it to go for a visit to iconic London landmark, The Shard followed by lunch at a nearby Strada. The package cost £100 and you can see it here.
Value for money - Red Letter Days vs Do It Yourself
Well, Red Letter Days does ok here... but not fantastically. Certainly, some of their offers are better value than this one but this does makes a very nice gift for someone as the whole package comes as one. Ticket prices for advanced purchase to the top of The Shard are £24.95 direct from The Shard for adults (£18.94 for 4-15 year olds; 3 year old and under are free). The two course lunch at Strada would be around £20-25 per head. Therefore, buying it through Red Letter Days is reasonable value and makes a nice gift.
Of course the best part is that when you buy this you don't have to book your trip straight away. You can take advantage of the current price and simply book when is convenient.
You need to book The Shard in advance any time. Yes - you can pop in on spec but they do get busy. On a clear day it is not going to have the same draw as the London Eye just yet as it is quite new and a bit off the main tourist drag. However, as summer draws in expect queues to get longer. The advance purchase ticket gives you a specific time to arrive and we were up there within a couple of minutes.
One thing that was a little confusing was The Shard's position over tickets for infants (defined as under 3's for this trip). The Shard says that all passengers need a ticket, including infants, but RLD could only issue two tickets as per the voucher, even though Doofy went up for free. However, we obviously aren't the first people to experience this problem and when we called The Shard we were told that the ticket requirement for infants has now been waived. No buggies are allowed to the top but they have a person acting as a buggy valet at the bottom who will park it for you.
Obviously, if you want the lunch (available from 12-3) then book to go up at 11 or 12 to give yourself time for the views.
The View From The Shard
It is just a quick couple of lifts to get up to the 78th Floor of The Shard. Feel your stomach disappear as you climb with incredible speed. Kids love the ear-popping sensation :) .
Once you are up there, the view can be up to 40 miles. That means that you can easily see Heathrow airport, Wembley and even the QE2 Bridge at Dartford. Of course, all of the nearer landmarks are clearly visible too - Parliament, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Canary Wharf etc etc.
We've done the London Eye a few times (including our wedding reception!) and the view from The Shard is a lot better. However, to some extent it is a little less personal because you feel further away from everything. It's a really close call between the two but on a clear day, The Shard wins.
The other alternative (and much less publicised) is Vertigo, which is a champagne bar on the top floor of Tower 42 in The City. No charge to go up, although the drinks aren't cheap!
Unfortunately, it was a bit foggy when we were up there, though we still had a good 8 mile view - more than enough to make out all of the important landmarks! Doofy found it a bit surreal I think as even the myriad train tracks seemed odd to him as they looked so small. The Shard do offer money back if the close main landmarks are not visible.
It is strange seeing helicopters pass by at eye level on the 78th Floor but go up 4 more floors to the very top and they are actually slightly below you!
The great things about this trip are :
Uninterrupted 360 degree views. The top floors are big and do not feel crowded, so you can see everything all around
Unlimited time at the top. Take your time to absorb the views with no hurry, unlike the London Eye where your time is very limited
You get a proper bird's eye view. Don't underestimate just how high up you are and feel
It's definitely a London Experience worth doing.
Lunch at Strada
Most importantly, why aren't Strada on childrenarewelcome???? Great family food and good service. Maybe that's a question for the Strada Marketing Team?!
More London is actually a good venue for the lunch, especially if it is a gift for a London visitor. The restaurant is ten minutes walk from The Shard but that puts it in a great location - right on the bank of The Thames, facing the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and right next to the London Assembly Building. Red Letter Days got the choice very right.
Strada is a good, family-friendly chain with a decent menu, uncomplicated food and quality service. It feels like a treat without breaking the bank. The Red Letter Days offering has a two course lunch from a set menu that was very good. I had the chicken and my wife had a very good crispy pizza. We had to pay for Doofy's meal as he wasn't on the voucher, but the kid's menu at around £6 is also good value - starter, drink, main course and ice cream.
The restaurant was actually surprisingly busy but the staff were friendly and the baby-change was clean and comfy. High chairs appeared without asking too.
Well done, Strada!
If you didn't want to book the Red Letter Days package there are plenty of restaurants around the area or you could even take a picnic to eat by the river.
A good day out for all. A nice way to see London and Strada rounded it off nicely. It is suitable for toddlers, though older kids would appreciate it more. It would certainly have the wow factor for 5 to 9 year olds.
To book for the summer holidays, click here and treat your kids to a great day out.
To see more Red Letter Days, including Driving Days and Experiences, have a look at our page here or visit the Red Letter Days website. They have some really fun stuff and some of them make great pressies for kids and parents.