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London up close: 10 great facts about The Shard

Posted at 5:30 pm, January 17, 2015 in Fun London

© Matt Blease

It doesn’t all just happen by magic, y’know. From lakes of fine wine to mountains of animal poop, there’s an awful lot going on behind the scenes at London’s world-famous landmarks that might surprise you. David Clack gets down to the eye-opening nitty-gritty of one of this great city’s greatest structures.

Lofty room rates

The most exclusive room at The Shard’s Shangri-La hotel (which occupies floors 34 to 52) costs £14,000 a night (that’s £13 a minute). For that, you get 232 square metres of space, a 180-degree view over the city, 1,000-thread-count sheets, a 24-hour butler, a steam shower and a Jacuzzi bath. Oh, and a Nespresso machine.

My, that’s a big squeegee

The Shard is covered in enough glass to cover eight football pitches. It’s kept shiny by a team of six abseiling window-cleaners. They tackle one side each week, and after finishing the fourth side they start back at the beginning, so their work is never done. And you can’t even be bothered to wipe the gunk off your bathroom mirror. Tsk.


If you attached a zipwire from The Shard’s summit to the MI6 building at Vauxhall Cross, it would take just over 49 seconds* to whizz the length of it. Depending on conditions, you’d reach a maximum speed of 148mph* and make one hell of an entrance.
*As calculated by Time Out’s astrophysicist Jenna Thornton

Pretty vacant

Forty percent of the building is empty, including all of the ten residential apartments floors 53 and 65. It doesn’t take estate agent to work out that this could be something to do with the £30 million starting price.

Make a splash (if you have the cash)

Last month saw the opening of the Shangri-La hotel’s swimming pool. Located on the 52nd floor, it’s Europe’s highest place to take a dip, and has views of St Paul’s and Westminster. The catch? It’s only open to guests of the hotel. The bigger catch? Rooms start at £450 per night.

Going up

The tower’s 44 lifts move at an average speed of six metres per second, that’s 13 miles per hour, meaning the trip to the top takes less than a minute. Or you can take the stairs – all 1,479 of them.

Tip toppers

Fancy climbing it? The time to beat is 16 hours: that’s how long it took a team of six Greenpeace protesters to reach the summit in July last year. Don’t, though – you’ll just get told off.

Bare bones

The Barbican and the Southbank Centre aren’t the city’s only concrete beasts – during construction of The Shard, 22 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of the stuff was poured into the foundations and superstructure. Chances of it blowing away, then, are pretty minimal.

The green high monster

The city’s tallest building isn’t all superficial glitz and environmentsodding excess: 95 percent of the materials used in its construction came from recycled sources.

Toast of the tower

The bar at the Aqua Shard restaurant sold 18,000 bottles of champagne in its first year – that’s 13,500 litres of delicious French fizz. If you stacked up all the empties, they’d reach 5.6km into the air. With The Shard towering at 306 metres, that would be equivalent to 18 Shards high.

Research Andy Hill. Illustrations Matt Blease

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