A Merlin Pass, which is an annual pass which allows entry to over 30 attractions throughout the UK, is priced at £119 per person for a Merlin Standard Annual Pass. For those who want more than the standard benefits offered, the Merlin Pass also extends to a Merlin Premium Annual Pass which is priced at £159 per person. For this specific blog post, I’m going to focus on the Merlin Standard Annual Pass as it’s the most popular option for those wanting to experience the attractions across the UK throughout the year.
What Is Included?
Entry Into Over 30 Attractions Across The UK
Free admission to popular theme parks such as Alton Towers Resort, Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland. Additionally, visitors can also visit the London Eye, The London Dungeons and even see everything that SEA LIFE London has to offer. If you live outside of London then there are attractions such as Warwick Castle, The Edinburgh Dungeon and Madame Tussauds Blackpool.
Up To 20% Discount on Food, Beverage & Retail
Once inside these attractions the Merlin Pass will allow visitors to get benefits such as a discount on food, beverage and retail. As someone who previously held a Merlin Pass, there will always be instances where you will find yourself thirsty, hungry or both and as we all know food can be very expensive - 20% goes a long way. If you have children who have learnt that pester power will occasionally work then 20% off in the gift shops will make a souvenir not cost an arm and a leg.
Discounted Entry For Family & Friends
If you plan to visit any of the attractions that the Merlin Pass offers but are visiting with someone who hasn’t purchased the pass, then you’ll be able to get them into these attractions at a discounted rate. These discounts can be as big as 50% as well as each pass holder being able to use it up to five times for family and friends.
Although the Merlin Pass offers incredible value for those wanting to visit attractions across the UK, there are certain dates that members will be unable to use their pass during. For example, during the month of August visitors holding a Standard Pass will be unable to visit The London Dungeon, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, DreamWorks Tours Shrek’s Adventure! London, Madame Tussauds London, and The Coca-Cola London Eye. The same principle applies for Bank Holidays throughout the UK as well as specific dates leading up to Halloween - which prevents pass holders visiting Thorpe Park as there’s Fright Night Restrictions.
Price of Each Attraction
Prices are representative of buying tickets on the day as well as being correct as of July 2020. Attractions in London are highlighted in bold.
If you lived in London and visited all of the attractions at least once throughout the year then without a Merlin Pass then it would cost you £217.50 compared to if you were to buy tickets on the day. These six attractions have a ticket price that is more expensive than the Merlin Pass itself. However, it should be kept in consideration that if you were to book in advance then tickets can have discounts as big as 50%, such as Chessington World of Adventures offering tickets throughout the year for £25. Even though the Merlin Pass gives incredible benefits as it allows free entry into over 30 attractions across the UK it would be worth researching what you’d actually do and see. For example, if you want to visit Legoland and a few other attractions then it may be worth investing solely into the Legoland Annual Pass which is currently priced at £59 whereas one ticket on the day costs £60 - it’s a no brainer.
Overall, the Merlin Pass seems good in theory if you plan ahead - you can save yourself hundreds upon hundreds of pounds if you visit these attractions at least monthly. Unfortunately, the only downside I find to the Merlin Pass is that there is a restriction to when you can visit certain attractions throughout the year - especially during August, which ruins plans of those wanting to take their children to these attractions during the summer holidays. But then again, these attractions need to make money somehow and have found a way in which during the busiest period of the year, they can do so.
Whether you’re moving to the UK from abroad or you’re travelling from different parts of the UK to move to London, you’ll have heard that London is very expensive. These costs can differ depending on what part of London you’re living in as well as if you’re living in university accommodation, a house or a flat. There are a lot of different opinions as to how much living costs will be, which then again depend on the lifestyle of the person and how much money they have to spare.
These prices are representative of a person renting their accommodation - I have researched numerous prices and have listed the median price. Although, each areas have their expensive areas and their inexpensive areas, to which rent prices can differ massively.
If you want to purchase a flat, house or any other form of accommodation outright whether it’s in North London or even South London then the median price will be over £600,000 - some houses can be bought for as cheap as £300,000 whereas newer buildings in areas such as Central London and East London can go into the millions.
Source: Transport for London, Eurostar & Trainline
Medication & Prescriptions
Groceries & Household Essentials
There are hundreds of different supermarkets and shops that sell food - from markets to chain supermarkets, each offers their own products and branded products at a range of prices. Supermarkets such as Tesco and Lidl are known for being relatively inexpensive whereas supermarkets such as M&S and Sainsbury’s are a little more expensive for the higher quality provided.
London has hundreds upon hundreds of different activities to do - whether it’s rain or shine, there’s a wide range of activities with price tags that vary on where you visit and what you do. Each person has their own taste and preferences but regardless London is very expensive in this aspect.
London is renowned for its shops, from Oxford Street to Westfield Shopping Centre, there isn’t a shortage of shops to spend all of your money on clothing. Primark is known to be guilty of fast fashion with t-shirts selling for as little as £2 and jackets for little as £20. However, if you went into a shop such as H&M or Zara you can expect to pay as much as £20 for a t-shirt and £30 for a jumper, especially if they’re branded with a celebrity or TV show.
The Tutankhamun Exhibit, which is in residence at The Saatchi Gallery until 3 May 2020, has been highly advertised all over London for having 150 authentic pieces from Tutankhamun's Tomb as well as more than 60 of which are travelling outside of Egypt for the first time. As The Tutankhamun Exhibit has seen widespread popularity across various countries it found its primary popularity in Paris as it became France's most attended exhibition of all time with over 1.4 million visitors. Even though the Saatchi Gallery has closed due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) temporarily, it’s worth seeing whether The Tutankhamun Exhibit is worth the price, as it’s priced at £28 per ticket with reduced admission for children and students (with a valid form of student ID), under 16's and senior citizens over 65 are entitled to purchase concession tickets.
Throughout London there has been advertising all around the capital, from coffee cups to billboards, to then online adverts to an array of advertising from numerous influencers and bloggers. I’m sure that everyone in London has heard of The Tutankhamun Exhibit at The Saatchi Gallery, even if they’re unsure as to what this exhibit presents and holds. Either way, as it was advertised as one of the most unmissable events with authentic artefacts from Egypt coming to London, I made sure that I attended to see what all the hype was about and whether it lived up to the popularity I’d been seeing online. After booking up tickets with a friend, we first questioned whether £28 was too pricey for a simple exhibit that would last less than 2 hours as well as excluding transport costs and any gifts we’d like to buy afterwards. However, since we have a fascination with Ancient Egypt and wanted to see these 150 authentic pieces from Tutankhamun's Tomb before they were flown back to Egypt, we reluctantly bought tickets and selected our time slot from the various times listed. As we’ve both visited Paris together, we found this exhibit to be rather expensive in consideration that we were able to see The Mona Lisa and the rest of the artworks at The Louvre Museum for €17 which in turn proved to be much better value.
Upon arriving at The Saatchi Gallery it was simply unmissable as there were posters upon posters of the coffinette, which can easily be mistaken for the notable Death Mask, as they were surrounding the entrance. Even though this has been the prominent image around London to advertise the exhibit, it seems very deceiving since many people will think they’re seeing something very rare and special - which may then lead them into buying these extortionately priced tickets. However, we then presented our tickets and were told to queue to the left - a line in which stretched from the entrance of The Saatchi Gallery to the gates surrounding it. Even though we had already paid for tickets we were then made to queue up for another 20-30 minutes. Another queue then formed when visitors were asked to open their bags for them to be checked by security and then once inside there was another never ending queue for those who wanted to get a picture in front of a green backdrop. Even though we decided not to get a picture we were then made to stand another 10 minutes in a queue to actually enter the entrance to The Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh. While waiting in line we were then asked if we’d like an audio guide, something I’d regularly get, except there was a small price tag of £6 that came along with it. As I’ve just paid £28 for a ticket, I thought that these audio guides should be included especially with the sheer popularity of the exhibit.
Once we finally made our way into the actual exhibit, visitors were put into a room, with staff allowing as many people as they could that fit, to watch an introductory video about Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh which lasted only a few minutes which in retrospect I barely saw any of it since visitors tried to get the best view in the room by pushing to the front. Once this video finished visitors were ushered to the next room, with the next group of visitors being led into the room we had just been in. It seemed as if this exhibit followed the same structure as a revolving door, with the main goal to get people through as quickly as they could, which in retrospect seems that they have sold a large quantity of tickets to which they need to deliver their promises on. Even though there were certain themes for Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh at the Saatchi Gallery including Weapons, Gods, Inside the Burial Chamber and Discovering The Tomb, each room was as full as the next. Therefore, by the time we had moved through to one room, there was another group coming through who in turn tried to push and shove to get to the front of the artefacts, which of course were protected by glass exhibit cases.
On reflection, there was a range of different artefacts on display but once again I felt deceived when there were small items of jewellery that individually counted as one artefact. Furthermore, even though there were a range of artefacts on display, there were more images of artefacts rather than physical ones, once again taking away from the experience of the exhibit. Therefore, the 150 artefacts promised turned out to be a lot smaller and underwhelming than advertised. Moreover, even though the nature of the exhibit is quite professional in nature, it should be noted that a screaming child didn’t lighten the mood nor give me the focus that I was looking for on top of everything else. Additionally, I appreciated the fact that The Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh is open to schools and colleges, but in retrospect they should’ve been given their own time slot since this added to the fact that there were enormous crowds with school children trying not to get separated from their group. Overall, when considering that there are 5,000 artefacts that were recovered with only 150 on display, this is a very small quantity with only 3% on display at The Saatchi Gallery.
After seeing all that the Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh Exhibit had to offer, we made our way through to the exit but first stopped at the gift shop. Even though I wasn’t overly keen on the exhibit itself, there were a range of beautifully decorated items that were handmade and from Egypt which were very moderately priced. On the other hand, there were items such as pencils and pens which were charged at £2 and £5 - with a simple design that outlines the name of the exhibit and an image too. The Official Catalogue was priced at £40, which in my opinion is expensive, but in consideration of the sheer size of the catalogue and the work that had been put into it - it may be worth a lot to those who are interested. After leaving, it was apparent that the most expensive exhibit in Britain was nowhere near worth the money paid, it’s a way to exploit people into seeing artefacts that they wouldn’t normally see. It’d be much better to simply watch a range of documentaries on the matter to gain further insight regarding the story and artefacts that Tutankhamun presents.
More information regarding Tutankhamun: Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh can be found here:
The National Art Pass allows visitors to “See More. For Less” with entry to over 240 museums and galleries as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions included. The National Art Pass is priced at only £70 for the entire year as well as a discounted rate of £30 for those who are under 30. Passes are also available depending on whether you’d like a lifetime membership or a double lifetime membership but the price ranges into the thousands. Additionally, there’s an extra discount for those wishing to pay by Direct Debit as 25% of the original price will be taken off - leaving The National Art Pass at only £52.50 for an Individual Membership for a year. It gets even better with an Annual National Art Pass for people under 30, who choose to pay by direct debit, as it will come to the grand total of £33.75.
Not only does The National Art Pass allow visitors either free or discounted entry into museums and galleries but has additional benefits such as a guidebook to using your pass at over 700 venues. Benefits also include a subscription to Art Fund’s magazine which is said to have “insightful and exclusive features” which provides readers with interesting content and comments regarding art, artists, galleries as well as highlighting what The National Art Pass can offer readers of that month - any special exhibitions currently being held mostly. Another benefit would be the stream of emails that highlights any special offers as well as news regarding art across the UK.
To see whether The National Art Pass is worth it, I’m going to list every free entry venue as well as those that offer 50% off with the pass in London as different parts of the UK. All prices are correct as of February 2020.
Free Entry Venues
Apsley House - (Standard entry price £9)
The Brunel Museum - (Standard entry price £6)
Carlyle's House - (Standard entry price £7)
Chiswick House & Gardens - (Standard entry price £8)
The Courtauld Gallery - (Standard entry price £0)
Charles Dickens Museum - (Standard entry price £10)
Dulwich Picture Gallery - (Standard entry price £7)
Eltham Palace and Gardens - (Standard entry price £14)
The Fan Museum - (Standard entry price £4)
2 Willow Road - (Standard entry price £7)
Ham House and Garden - (Standard entry price £11)
Handel & Hendrix in London -(Standard entry price £10)
Horniman Museum and Gardens - (Standard entry price £0)
Household Cavalry Museum - (Standard entry price £8)
Jewish Museum London - (Standard entry price £9)
Keats House - (Standard entry price £7)
Kensington Palace - (Standard entry price £16)
Leighton House Museum - (Standard entry price £12)
Marble Hill House - (Standard entry price £7)
Osterley Park & House - (Standard entry price £11)
Ranger's House - The Wernher Collection - (Standard entry price £8)
The Foundling Museum - (Standard entry price £12)
Cartoon Museum - (Standard entry price £7)
Red House Bexleyheath - (Standard entry price £7)
Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) - (Standard entry price £1)
Heath Robinson Museum - (Standard entry price £6)
Altogether, there are 27 museums and galleries in London that offer free entry to those who hold The National Art Pass - even though there are two museums and galleries that are completely free to the general public - which then makes it 25. Altogether, if a pass holder visited every single free venue throughout the year, it would cost them £204. However, with the price of some venues as little as £1 or £4 it really does depend on what venues the person chooses to go to. For example, if they want to visit venues that cost £10 and above, it would be a no-brainer to get The National Art Pass as they could easily get their money back in less than 7 visits.
50% off Exhibitions
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Imperial War Museum
Museum of London
National Maritime Museum
National Portrait Gallery
Natural History Museum
Victoria & Albert (V&A)
Even though most of these museums are free, some exhibitions throughout the year are not currently free. For example, The British Library holds three exhibitions a year which require an entrance fee - for which those holding The National Art Pass they would be able to get a discounted price. For the price of The National Art Pass, it seems more worth would be gone into just visiting the museum and galleries themselves rather than paying for The National Art Pass to get 50% off of certain exhibitions that you may or may not be interested in.
Overall, The National Art Pass can be an opportunity for hundreds in savings if you plan to visit these museums and galleries as well as if you’re interested in the extra benefits such as a subscription to Art Quarterly and an email subscription. However, the downfall of this pass if the 50% off exhibitions as it still means that visitors would have to pay extra on top of the price they have paid for the pass. It would be worth doing your research into what exhibitions are currently being displayed as well as to how long they will be on display for. In most cases exhibitions can run as long as 6-7 months, allowing visitors to visit them in their own time rather than being rushed. For £33.75, which allows an annual pass for those under 30, the savings could be as much as £170 with just the free entry to venues regardless of whether or not they take advantage of the 50% off exhibitions.
More Information Regarding The National Art Pass Can Be Found By Clicking Here.
Boxing Day, instead of spending the time at home with family or friends and enjoying the merry season, there are a large handful of people who just cannot miss out on incredible deals. In 2018, The Mirror reported that over 28 million people were out on Boxing Day all across the country spending millions upon millions - with discounts ranging from 50% to 90% at some stores. These deals can last for either a day or a few days but each year it’s dependent on stock.
How Are You Going To Get There?
As all public transport ceases to run on Christmas Day, Boxing Day will see some public transport running but with a limited service. For example, The London Underground will see a reduced service with it being compared to a Sunday service as tubes will depart later than usual as well as less tubes being available throughout the day. Regardless, I’ve used the Jubilee Line on Boxing Day and there was around a 8-10 minute wait for a tube whereas during the week I’d be able to wait less than a minute or two for one. Before going out to enjoy the sales make sure you check your route of transport - TFL provides a lot of information regarding services across numerous stations. More information can be found by clicking here.
Shopping Centres or The High Street?
On Boxing Day you should have a plan of where you’d like to go - list down all of the shops you know have discounts and deals that you simply cannot miss. For example, every year Lush have a 50% off sale on their Christmas items - the only sale throughout the whole year that Lush have as well as Next having a sale with up to 50% off. If you know the stores you’d like to go in then plan where you’d be better off going to. For example, if you live near a shopping centre but there’s nothing there - then don’t bother going! You’ll be caught up with the thousands of shoppers who have the same idea as you. If you visit Oxford Street then you’ll have a wide variety of shops to go to as well as being able to go outside and grab some fresh air if needed to.
Opening & Closing Times
Except from Next, which is set to open at 6am, there are reduced hours for shops and businesses opening on Boxing Day - similar to Sunday trading hours. If you get to a shop at 8am, which is the usual opening time, then I’d hope you’ve got your thermals on since you will be in for a shock. Even through using Google Maps the opening and closing times may not be fully listed as “hours may differ” - I’d do my research through social media and if anything ask the retailer themselves. However, if you’re an early bird then I’d recommend arriving around 10-15 minutes before opening and if you’re a late riser then around 1-2 hours before closing. These workers want to go home as soon as they can - not spend the last two minutes before the store closes serving customers who couldn’t come earlier.
Could You Avoid The Crowds and Shop Online?
Most companies will have both an in-store sale as well as a sale online whereas companies that only operate online, such as Amazon, will have unmissable deals on their website. If you can avoid the crowds and stay at home, with the chance to order your favourite items at the click of a button - then do it! You’d be able to relax from the comfort of your own home and avoid being shoved from side to side in the attempt to get £30 off a jacket you know you just don’t need. The only downside to shopping online throughout Boxing Day will be a long wait for your item as not only will the company be overwhelmed with purchases but postal companies such as Royal Mail will not deliver on New Year’s Day.
Returns & Exchanges
All these deals and offers may be exciting, so much so that you forget to ask the store you’re in what their returns and exchange policy is. The reason being is that Boxing Day allows retailers to get rid of merchandise that’s either going out of season or merchandise that they need to get rid of in general. Retailers are not obligated to give customers a refund nor exchange - so you may be stuck with that jacket that’s two sizes too small for you. Either way, there should be signs located near the tills and staff members should be able to explain the refund and exchange policy, if they have one, as some returns may be reduced from 28 days to 14 days. There may be the option of a credit note given instead of a full refund either in cash or on your debit/credit card.
Do You Really Need That?
The excitement of getting money off products that you would’ve paid full price for may lead shoppers to grab as much as the can for the sake of it. My advice would be to withdraw a certain about of cash, whether it be £20 or £100, so that once your money has run out - you can call it a day and return home. I admit I’m guilty of picking up bath bomb after bath bomb in Lush simply because it’s 50% off - I spent £70 in Lush in less than 5 minutes and my bank account really took a hit that day that it never recovered from. If you make a list of items you’d like to get, then stick to it - don’t feel tempted to buy something that you know you will not use and won’t come in handy in 6 months time. When you look at an item think if you will use it and if not then put it back on the shelf - someone else will find a use for it.
Bags, Bags & Even More Bags!
We’ve all been there - you spend £101.20 on an item but 5p for a plastic bag? Utterly outrageous. Even for online shopping, I’m willing to pay £400 for an item but £3.95 for delivery? No thank you. To avoid having to buy plastic bag upon plastic bag then buy durable and reusable bags. There’s bags that you can buy in Sports Direct or even Tesco which are around £1 but can carry a lot more than the standard 5p plastic bag - which also prevents the embarrassment of your bag ripping and clothes going everywhere. Not to mention you’re not doing anything for the environment if you keep buying bag upon bag that you know you don’t need, especially when you have another 100 in a cupboard at home. Additionally, keep your shopping separate from your receipts - you will spend hours upon hours searching for your receipts if you just shove them into a bag.
You’ve got your list, you’ve planned where you’re going to go and you’ve made a budget but have you thought about the weather? It could be raining or snowing, this weather is really unpredictable, you don’t want to be walking down Bond Street with Louboutin’s on trying to keep your balance. For just this once, I’m sure you can leave the heels at home and wear trainers or boots with a low heel. Make sure you’re warm by wearing a jacket that will keep you warm but not to the point where you begin sweating when shopping. If you’re going to leave early then make sure you have a good hearty breakfast and bring some water with you - there’s nothing worse than going out and possibly feeling faint as you’ve barely eaten or drunk anything.
Buy Ahead For Next Christmas!
As much as the idea of getting a t-shirt or a bag discounted is fun, think ahead - further, further and go 330 days ahead. One of my favourite places to visit on Boxing Day and the days towards New Year has to be Clintons and Card Factory and even stores such as Poundland, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Simply because all of their Christmas items will be reduced. Last year I bought most of my Christmas cards for 2019 for under £10 - which I would’ve spent around £30 on if I had bought them at full price. Even wrapping paper can be as cheap as 30p per roll compared to £1, it all helps and saves me buying it the following year. Even if I find Christmas books or books that children can colour in - I save it for a stocking filler for next year as they can cost as little as 10p. Either way, there are items such as luxury crackers that can be saved for the year after, with everyone thinking you spent a fortune but instead you've simply spent a few pennies or pounds.
Ever since the O2 opened in 2007 it’s been an entertainment hub for those wishing to see artists and special events as well as those wanting to visit the cinema, play a game of bowling or visit the never ending row of restaurants. Now there’s a new edition which makes the O2 seemingly complete - the ICON Outlet which is home to over 85 stores including popular names such as Jack Wills, Levi’s, Nike, Adidas and Ted Baker, to name a few.
Getting to the O2 is simple as there’s a range of public transport links including the Jubilee Line which allows passengers to use the London Underground as well as a bus station just a few minutes walk from the O2. The buses that stop at North Greenwich are the 108, 129, 132, 161, 188, 422, 472 and 486 which go towards both Central London, South East London as well as locations just outside of London such as Bexleyheath. There’s even a Cable Car connection that goes from North Greenwich to The Royal Docks which is notably known for the ExCel Exhibition Centre where events are held constantly throughout the year.
The ICON Outlet at the O2 has gained popularity very quickly for the impressive discounts which can be up to 70% in some cases. This seems too good to be true, but it really isn’t! When I first visited the ICON Outlet I was overwhelmed with the displays stating these amazing discounts and upon further inspection they were right - a Levi’s jacket was £95 but had been discounted to £25 but then rung up at £15 at the register - my bank account was safe for another day as I began planning my new wardrobe. Even in shops such as Yankee Candle I was in discount heaven - candles that had an RRP of £30 were as cheap as £11 and there wasn’t a shortage of accessories and gift sets. Shops such as The Body Shop runs on a basis such as ‘the more you buy, the more you save’ which is great for those wanting to stock up on their favourite products without breaking the bank. If you have a sweet tooth then Lindt Chocolate doesn’t disappoint with visitors being able to pick and mix their favourite chocolates which is weighed per gram. The ICON Outlet is a great idea for those wanting to get presents for any occasion, admittedly I had plans to buy friends and family gift sets from Yankee Candle, The Body Shop and even some clothes from Adidas and Nike.
Not only is the ICON Outlet a hub for shopping but also offers discounts to visitors such as a free shopping drop for those going into the actual O2 Arena. To be honest I was surprised that this shopping drop was free but then again the O2 Arena operates on a basis that limits large bags coming into the O2 Arena for security reasons. Additionally if you do spend over £150 then you’ll be happy to know that you’ll get your shopping delivered directly to your home. Luckily this saves carrying around masses of bags that begin to make you wonder how and when you bought so much and whether you actually need these items - of course you do! However, if you don’t want to break the bank then there’s the option of 4 hours free parking when you spend over £35 which seems more likely for those travelling here. My personal favourite offer from the ICON Outlet is the option to buy a gift card, which doubles up as a present or a bank card for the day to prevent you overspending - once your money runs out then it’s time to call it a day. Other services here at the ICON Outlet include wheelchairs and scooters available to hire for the duration of your stay and Changing Places toilets onsite. These Changing Places are quite large and were made specifically for those who may have additional accessibility requirements.
If you’re an early bird or someone that prefers shopping later in the day then the O2 Outlet has you covered - with an opening time of 10am and a closing time of 10pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (times vary depending on the day). If you want to make a day of it then I’d recommend visiting around midday, then going for lunch with the numerous restaurants throughout the O2 itself. Then there’s the option to see the latest release at the cinema in the Vue cinema or you can treat yourself to a game at bowling at Hollywood Bowl. There’s even an indoor trampolining park called Oxygen Freejumping which is fun for both children and adults. Even though the shops at the O2 are mainly directed for adults, there’s the option to treat your child in the Build-A-Bear Workshop within the ICON Outlet. Not only is there a wide variety of bears and accessories to buy but there’s the option to hold birthday parties here which starts at £11.
The ICON Outlet has even more offers, which I wish I would’ve known before visiting as there have been numerous deals I have missed out on. Currently there’s an offer with Yankee Candle that allows visitors to claim a free melt warmer when a purchase of £20 or more is made. If candles aren’t your thing then Clarks are currently offering guests the offer of buy one, get the next one half price. The same deal is currently happening at Asics as well as two short sleeve tops being £24 or three for £32 on selected items. However, you should check when these offers expire as they change frequently and you do not want to miss out on these savings.
A view from The Shard, something everyone living in London should get to see at least once and something that every tourist should put on their list while visiting London. It doesn't just offer the best views of London but also poses as the highest viewing platform in the capital as well as offering a 5-star hotel and spa: The Shangri-La. The Shard offers lots of restaurants and bars to suite everyone tastes. Unfortunately on this occasion I only had the pleasure of seeing the views from The Shard rather than dining there and spending the night in a luxurious room with phenomenal views of London.
The view offered by this impressive building, to which I only realised was named The Shard as the shape of the building is meant to resemble a shard of glass, is well worth the price. There are a range of prices depending on the ticket you would like to purchase: standard, premium and VIP ticket - each include their own perks and benefits. There's also options to buy group tickets as well as the champagne experience which includes a glass of Moët & Chandon champagne (I would recommend buying this experience if you're celebrating a special occasion such as a birthday or wedding anniversary). The standard ticket prices start at £24, the premium ticket starts at £31 and the VIP ticket starts at £39. These prices represent an adult ticket that's bought 14+ days before visiting The Shard. Prices increase if you buy between 1-13 days before visiting as well as if you buy on the day. I would suggest buying tickets 14+ days before to avoid queues and the disappointment if all the time slots on that day are sold out. On this occasion I bought a standard ticket which included entry to The Shard's viewing platform as well as having the option to gain knowledge regarding The Shard from gallery experts working there. More information regarding the types of tickets available can be found here and tickets can also be bought here: https://www.the-shard.com/viewing-gallery/.
The Shard is one of the most accessible attractions in London and the best thing about it is that you definitely can't miss it! It's located just outside of London Bridge station, which is accessible on the Jubilee and Northern lines as well as from trains that travel through and out of London. There are a number of buses that travel to London Bridge since it's one of the biggest train stations in London, making it an important and convenient place for Londoners and tourists. It's also located very close to Tower Bridge and the Shakespeare Globe which are all within walking distance. Whether you walk, cycle, take the train or even get a taxi, The Shard has signs all around London Bridge station directing you to the entrance. There are even workers outside asking visitors if they would like to buy tickets, which is another obvious sign that you have found the entrance to the building.
Since my viewing at The Shard was at 10am, I had no problems with collecting my tickets from the ticket office and there were barely any queues for security. If you want to save time then you have the option of printing your tickets at home which allows you to go straight through security and have more time to see the views presented by The Shard. If you bring children to The Shard then even waiting to go through security will not prove to be a bore for them since there's artwork all over the walls, I got so enticed by this artwork that I didn't realise the security team were waiting for me to go through next. The security is similar to the airport, all you need to do is place your bags and shoes through an x-ray machine while you walk through a metal detector. Nothing too strenuous.
Once you've gone through security the next step would be waiting for the elevator. This queue moves quite fast but once again the size of the queue depends on the time of day and time of year you visit. There are two elevators that you will need to take, each one holding only around 7-8 people making it not too claustrophobic and giving everyone their own personal space. The first elevator will take you up to Level 33, once on that floor if you look down you will see artwork on the floor and walls which are giant maps of London and descriptions about them. It's also important to note that if you would like a picture taken by a photographer which includes a green screen (which in the picture looks like you're in front of a London view), it's just before the first elevator, which pictures can be purchased at the end of your viewing on the way out. The second elevator is less than a minutes walk away from the exit of the first elevator, this elevator takes you to Level 68. Both of these elevators are quite smooth in their transition between floors and it didn't even feel like I was in a elevator except for the moment my ears popped. Once arriving at Level 68 there's options to walk up or take another small elevator to Level 69, the main triple height viewing platform. If you're a lover of heights then you can even go further to Level 72 which has an open-air viewing platform, this gives the sense of feeling outside since you can feel the fresh air surround you.
The views from these floors are simply breathtaking, it made such a busy and populated capital look simply tiny, it was interesting looking at these views to think that there are over 8 million people scattered all over London at this moment. I cannot describe how these views compare to any images you may have seen of London, the experience would be simply magnificent at night since London would be lit up which really adds a factor of amazement to it. However, the view at night may prevent you from seeing buildings in detail and it may take a while to get a picture worth posting to Instagram. These viewing platforms also include telescopes that include 200 attractions all over London as well as having the option to view these at night or throughout the day (as they're prerecorded). There are also touch screen tablets which highlight specific landmarks close to The Shard such as The London Eye and Tower Bridge, this is another option to visit The Shard if you have children, they'll have as much fun as you will.
On the way out of The Shard you'll have the option to buy any photographs previously taken, which cost £15, I'm not too sure if this price has increased or decreased since I never got my picture taken but I've heard this price from many friends and family. You'll also have to pass through the gift shop, this is a downside if you have children since they will want everything, thankfully there are some items which are priced reasonably but others are way too expensive. If you're visiting The Shard then it would be better to buy a guidebook or a limited edition souvenir to remind you of your visit. You're also welcome to take pictures from your phone or camera on these viewing platforms, an option I prefer since it's cheaper as well as having the chance to take as many pictures as I want to get the perfect one.
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