Some of the world’s most impressive places to visit are at a great altitude and in every city there’s usually a ‘height’ experience to enjoy in some form or another. While some involve a form of of thrill aspect like the Skyslide in Los Angeles, others are simply a great way to get a view over a cityscape while spending time with friends.
However, there’s a small segment of the population who will always miss out on these heady experiences because of a fear of heights – otherwise known as acrophobia. According to HealthResearchFunding.org, 2%-5% of the world’s population suffers from acrophobia and twice as many women as men are affected by this condition. The extent of a person’s acrophobia can vary, but if you have it, it can have a very limiting effect on life. Some acrophobics will not climb a set of stairs, or a stepladder, let alone contemplate going on a rollercoaster or taking a turn on the London Eye.
Dealing with acrophobia
If you’re one of those affected, there are different approaches to addressing a fear of heights. One common treatment is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), where sufferers learn behavioral techniques to reduce their sense of panic in a situation and control their physical and emotional reactions to something that they are afraid of. Once these techniques have been learnt, exposure therapy can be used to allow the sufferer to become desensitized to their phobia, by being placed in different real-life settings such as tall buildings or bridges where they can experience the sensation of being at a height. Exposure therapy allows the person with acrophobia to confront their fear head-on, but with support. Some acrophobics may have to work up to exposure therapy in real settings through some virtual reality sessions first, where their fears are faced in a VR environment.
Places to celebrate beating acrophobia
For anyone who is able to conquer their fear of heights, there are certainly some amazing places you can enjoy a decadent ‘height’ experience.
Afternoon tea at The Shard, London
Enjoy a classic afternoon tea at GŎNG, at the 52nd floor of one of the most iconic buildings on London’s skyline. The bar has floor to ceiling windows, so no matter where you’re sitting, you get breathtaking views while your tea is served.
Alternatively, you could book a room in the Shangri-La which also gives you access to the Skypool, Europe’s highest infinity pool that is 600m above the city. After your swim, watch the sun go down over the city as you enjoy champagne and light bites in the cocktail bar.
Take a turn at Berlin’s TV Tower
Taking things a stage further, you could visit the Berlin TV Tower, where the Sphere restaurant is not only 207m above the ground, but revolves too, giving diners 360 degree views of the city. It’s a gentle ride though – one revolution takes an hour. However, if you prefer the world to stay still while you’re up so high, settle for a few cocktails in Bar 203 instead, which is situated just below the restaurant at 203m from the ground.
Dining out at the Eiffel Tower
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Then, of course, there’s always the classic ‘high-light’ of Europe to visit too – the Eiffel Tower. The most recognised landmark in Paris actually makes a great location for a series of exposure therapy sessions, as there are restaurants and bars at different levels of the tower. On the first-floor, you can dine at Le 58 Eiffel restaurant. When you’re feeling a little more confident, venture further up the tower to the second level, where you can enjoy lunch or dinner 105m above ground at the Jules Verne restaurant. And when you feel you’re absolutely free of acrophobia, head right to the top of the Eiffel Tower to toast your success in the Champagne Bar.
All of these great experiences and so many more around the world are there for the taking if you don’t have a phobia about heights. If you’re not in that 2%-5% of the population, thank your lucky stars you don’t have acrophobia, and if you are, just think what you’ll be missing if you don’t face up to your fear!