If London’s famous for anything then top of the list must be its buildings. You name it; London has it. Buckingham Palace. The Houses of Parliament. Westminster Abbey. St. Paul’s Cathedral. And, of course, the double-whammy next to each other that’s the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. And yet, you don’t have to go back to the Victorian age (and, yes, far further back still) for some awesome London architecture – being the dynamic, urgent, 21st Century world city, it is, the UK capital’s also brimming with outstanding modern buildings. So, should you be staying in one of the 5 star hotels London (such as the hotel Montcalm London), here are some you must check out…
Its official name may be 30 St. Mary Axe (its address), but it’s The Gherkin by which everybody seems to know this giant, green-glass edifice that’s, well, shaped like a gherkin. Standing 180-metres-tall and designed by the legendary architect Sir Norman Foster, it’s an utter icon of the capital and has featured on TV extensively and in movies ranging from the Harry Potter series to Woody Allen’s Match Point.
Similar to The Gherkin, in that it’s also an example of glass-dominated, cloud-piercing modernist architecture, Renzo Piano’s Shard is actually the tallest building in Europe – it comes in at just under an eye-watering 319 metres. And members of the public are more than welcome to zoom up in a lift to the excellent viewing platform on the 72nd floor – perfect should you be staying nearby in one of Central London’s many Montcalm hotels.
Along with The Shard, The O2 (or the Millennium Dome, as it was once known; it was designed specifically for London’s celebrations for the year 2000) is the most publicly accessible of all the buildings on this list, not least because this North Greenwich icon is a multi-entertainment venue, nowadays containing restaurants, bars, a multiplex cinema and an arena that plays host to major music artists and sports events. You can even – don’t worry, very safely – climb the 52-metre-tall edifice and walk along its roof for spectacular views of the entire capital.
The Walkie Talkie
Located just a few short steps away from The Gherkin in the heart of the City of London is the playfully shaped ‘Walkie Talkie’; yes, it really does look like an old-fashioned two-way radio, but – again – is officially known by its address, 20 Fenchurch Street. Despite being a subject of ridicule with some Londoners (on a very hot day a few years back, sunlight shining through its glass was actually hot enough to melt an egg on the pavement and, er, a car’s interior), its top floor restaurant, the Sky Garden, with its terrific panoramas, is hugely popular – and makes for a nice alternative to a West End restaurant.
Finally, a hugely well-known building not just for its shape, but also its function (it’s where the elected London Assembly sits and its many members – including the Mayor of London – work), City Hall stands on the South Bank, just across the Thames from that other architectural icon, but of a distinctly other age – the Tower of London. Labelled as looking like a ‘squashed tomato’ when it opened, its dynamic appearance seems to have grown on Londoners and visitors over the years, which is just as well. And, frankly, justly deserved.