Monday, July 28, 2014

The Hotel Residents Don't Make the Building

Merriam-Webster’s definition of “spectacle” reads, “something exhibited to view as unusual, notable, or entertaining; especially:  an eye-catching or dramatic public display.” As many of our cineTREKS include visiting the various spectacles of London, I personally believed our trip to the Shard would be the most rewarding giving an insight into London that we have not yet experienced. However, I was unfortunately disappointed.
We were asked to dress nicely for this cineTREK, which was a refreshing change from the casual walking wear most of us have been sporting while traveling through the city. The Shard, home of the Shangri-La hotel, is the tallest building in all of Europe giving a futuristic representation of London. The height and structure of the building deserves to bear the definition of a spectacle when you are looking at it from the outside, but not from being within. I did not know how this tour was going to be conducted, however, I expected it to be sophistically informative. Much like the awe from the outside looking up at the building there was awe from within. It was beautiful down to the floral scent, which I later learned was their signature scent that you can buy. I laughed thinking that was slightly pretentious but perhaps just good marketing for business. This thought was the first of many predispositions to come during the visit.
I was more impressed with the building itself and remain to be, but as an outsider looking in during the tour that is exactly what I was made to feel like, an outsider. Although our guide Yuriko was pleasantly informative telling us about the grand opening and all the work that went into it, our visit felt very rushed. It was as if our group of touring college students was not a good look for the flashy image the hotel is trying to display. It was a get-in-get-out situation and that is what damaged the experience as a whole. We went up an elevator looked down at the view and saw a hotel room that was no different to a standard hotel room in America. The building is indeed eye-catching with its skyscraping height offering a lovely view overlooking London behind glass; its design is spectacular. When I think of the word spectacle or spectacles I always think of eyeglasses and that is exactly how I felt like I was looking at London – through the eyeglasses of the Shard. The hotel residents, which are obviously very wealthy since they can afford to stay there, are looking “down” upon London much like they were looking down upon us entering the building.

Our “tour” of the Shard was an elevator ride up to see one hotel room and back down and out the door. The room we saw apparently went for 500 pounds a night … I wasn’t impressed. Our entire group of about 20 people could not even fit in the room without squeezing by one another. It was very basic: a bed, a television, a nightstand, and a bathroom. I suppose since the room was not nearly close enough to the top of the building it was not as extravagant, but hearing that price still baffled me. I prefer my view of London to include the Shard as a grand contribution to the scene rather than as the ostentatious spectacle from which I am placed above to look at London.

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