A small group of journalists recently gathered at the Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard for a somewhat unusual tour of London on a perfect hot summer’s day to experience the compact yet immensely powerful new CL Companion binoculars from SWAROVSKI OPTIK, the Austrian-based company that has been producing precision long-range optical instruments since 1949.
We began the day with a champagne breakfast and presentation from Peter Antoniou, Country Manager in the UK & Republic of Ireland for SWAROVSKI OPTIK, who introduced us to the CL Companion binoculars, which we would all have use of so that we could take in the wonderful views London has to offer.
It was then the turn of our transportation hosts, Robert Welch and Tony Grant of Small Car BIG CITY, to chat about their wonderful fleet of restored original classic Mini Coopers, bringing memories of my very first car flooding back.
Robert and Tony founded their company back in 2009, exactly 50 years after the first ever classic Mini rolled off the production line, believing that every visitor to London should feel like a local. Their fleet of Mini Coopers and team of passionate drivers and local guides, show visitors the capital through the eyes of a Londoner.
We then make our way down to the hotel’s entrance to be greeted by a colourful small fleet of Mini Coopers and expert local drivers, to whisk us off to Madisons, our first port of call, for another glass of champagne and to put the small but powerful CL Companion binoculars to their test, seeing just how close we can make St. Paul’s Cathedral look. Well, very close actually!
Whilst the CL Companion are primarily sold to nature enthusiasts, they are so light and compact that they make for the perfect sightseeing companion around the city with their impressive 132-metre field-of-view and high contrast images. But you don’t need to worry if they get a bit knocked about as they are extremely rugged, thanks to the solid magnesium housing. Another feature I particularly like is the clever little phone adapter, which means that you can capture what you’re viewing on your phone’s camera! Impressive stuff.
We were then bundled back into our Mini Coopers’ and headed off to Trafalgar Square, where lunch was strategically positioned on the Rooftop of the Trafalgar St. James Hotel, giving us some fabulous views of Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column and the surrounding area. We did however get a little carried away by our delicious tapas lunch, yet more bubbly and the fantastic views, that time ran away with us and so rather than head to Primrose Hill for our third viewing opportunity, I once again clambered into the back of my Mini and our professional and expert driver Samantha, took through the back streets of South London and on roads I never knew existed, including a short cut through an underground garage (yes seriously), with onlookers taking photos of our fleet of Minis driving through the streets of the capital, to deliver us safely back at The Shard where I managed to extricate myself from the back of the Mini (with a little help) and head back up to the Shangri-La for a spot of afternoon tea and the chance to try SWAROVSKI OPTIK’s brand-new ATX Interior telescope, which is the first product the company has designed specifically for indoor use.
This beautiful piece of equipment sits on top of a crafted WT wooden tripod with integrated tripod head and can recognise the smallest detail thanks to the state-of-the-art SWAROVISION technology which includes an impressive 25-60x magnification and an effective objective lens diameter of 85mm providing a large field-of-view.
SWAROVSKI OPTIK has in fact been announced as the official premium optic partner of the Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London, and is showcasing their new ATX Interior spotting scope in four of the hotel’s most luxurious suites for a period of six months, including the Shangri-La suite and one telescope in the reception area for guests to use at their leisure.
Peter Antoniou says that the “Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London is renowned for offering some of the best views in London and was the perfect choice for us to showcase the new ATX Interior spotting scope. Thanks to the high-quality objective lens and wide field of view, the ATX is the ideal optic to ensure guests make the most of these impressive views and the stylish design of the scope complements the elegant surroundings of the hotel.”
Whilst Paul Brackley, General Manager of the Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London says: “We’re delighted to be partnering with SWAROVSKI OPTIK. The new ATX Interior spotting scope will provide our guests with a unique viewing experience at the height of luxury. Its impressive capabilities enables close up views of the bustling London Bridge neighbourhood, as well long-distance views far beyond the city, as far as the eye can see.”
Shangri-La, At The Shard, London, 31 St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9QU, England.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7234 8000
Trafalgar St. James Hotel, 2 Spring Gardens, London, SW1A 2TS, England.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7870
The ATX Interior will be available in the UK through www.SWAROVSKIOPTIK.com and various retailers from October 2018.
More information on the CL Companion binoculars that we used on our day can be found at www.SWAROVSKIOPTIK.com
For more information on Small Car BIG CITY, please visit their website: https://smallcarbigcity.com/
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-Chief of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.