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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