The 5 Best Views in London
Best for highest (and farthest!) view: The Shard
If you're heading to London and you want the classic experience of a view across the city, I recommend The Shard. My clients are always asking for the London Eye, so I like to find out why they want to ride The Eye. Is it because of the novelty factor? The chance to look down upon the Houses of Parliament? Then definitely head to the Eye. Is it for a great view? Then head to The Shard instead. At 1,016 feet tall overall with a viewing platform at 800 feet high, The Shard puts the London Eye to shame, plus you can stay as long as you like instead of the 30 minute time limit for the Eye. On a clear day you can see for 40 miles in each direction, though not, as some rumors claim, all the way to France. The Shard also has some great restaurants and is right near the Borough Market, so you can make a day of it and grab a great meal afterwards.
Best for dining with a view: Duck and Waffle
Day or night, my top pick for the best views from a restaurant in London can be found at Duck and Waffle. Located in The City, this restaurant has the whole 43rd floor of Heron Tower and is known for their 24/7 dining. Fresh off a red eye flight into Heathrow? Head straight to Duck and Waffle to enjoy a comforting breakfast to get your day started. Didn't have time for dinner before the show and now the kitchen is closed where you planned to go? Grab a black cab and enjoy the fabulous late night menu. Is it 3am and you're wide awake, looking for something to eat? Look no further, Duck and Waffle is here for you. You won't be alone as the restaurant is often filled at this hour with business travelers from Asia whose internal clocks tell them its lunch time! One of my favorite dishes for taking in the view at any time of day? The eponymous Duck and Waffle - this dish is perfect combination of sweet and savory, and the mustard maple syrup (trust me on this one) really puts everything over the top.
Best for commuting with a view: Thames Clippers and London River Boat Service
While I love the Underground and the ease with which it whisks you from place to place around London, there is an argument to be made that you miss a good bit of the sights when you're underground. I typically prefer to walk around London just because there is so much to see, but I often find myself running late in which case a black cab is an excellent choice. That being said, if you have a bit farther to go - and want to experience a different side of the city - then I would check out the Thames Clippers. The river boat service runs all the way from Hampton Court Palace to Woolwich Royal Arsenal - along the way you will be able to see or stop off to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the National Trust's Ham House, Strawberry Hill, and Syon House, the iconic Victorian towers of Battersea Power Station, the London Eye, Tate Modern, Houses of Parliament, The Shard, St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Greenwich, and so much more before you end just after passing through the Thames Barrier. Some routes and stations are seasonal, so best the check the schedules ahead of time. There is an outdoor sitting area at the back which is where I always try to grab a seat! Much more fun out in the fresh air.
Best for waking up to a view: Penthouse Suites at Corinthia London
At 5,000 square feet, the Royal Penthouse Suite just might be one of the finest rooms in all of London. The suite features a private roof terrace that has a panoramic view across London down the Thames to the London Eye and over the Golden Jubilee Bridge. The suite is ideal for families looking for space and privacy since there are two bedrooms, a personal butler, a complimentary car and driver and so much more. In my opinion this suite is the best spot in the whole city for the New Year's Eve fireworks display held at the London Eye. No need to get tickets, wait in security lines, or stand in the cold for hours on end - just book the Royal Suite, enjoy a private dinner in your own dining room, and pop the champagne on your balcony as Big Ben rings in the New Year.
While the Royal Penthouse may take the cake for New Years, it is also hard to argue with the spectacular view from Corinthia's Whitehall Suite. Clocking in at a mere 1,745 square feet, you can feel like James Bond at the end of Skyfall as you survey the rooftops of Whitehall from your balcony while sipping the martini your personal butler brought up.
Best for hiking to a view: Greenwich Royal Observatory While this is actually a pretty tough choice, between the classic views - Hampstead Heath's Primrose Hill or One Tree Hill in Southwark - and the new kids on the block (climbing the O2 Arena, anyone?) there are actually a number of beautiful walks in and around London where you can get a great view. I chose the Greenwich Royal Observatory for a couple reasons. To start, it has a great view across Old Royal Naval College to Canary Wharf and beyond, but you also have the opportunity to explore this unique corner of London when you come to see the view. Greenwich has several top notch museums like the Cutty Sark and National Maritime Museum in addition to the aforementioned Old Royal Naval College whose Painted Hall and Chapel are not to be missed. The Royal Observatory is quite a treat as well since it is here that you can stand on the Prime Meridian of the World, right in the home of Greenwich Mean Time. If you stay into the evening to grab some dinner, keep an eye out for the green laser coming from the top of the hill which marks the Prime Meridian. Pretty cool! Based on your interests I would spend a day or two in Greenwich alone when you visit London.