If there’s anything that will snap me out of a blogging break it’s a trip to see London’s latest city view, at the top of one of the skyline’s newest additions. Let me introduce you to the bold building affectionally nicknamed ‘The Walkie Talkie’ (officially called 20 Fenchurch Street). It confidently sits on the north side of the River Thames, towering above nearby city neighbours the Gherkin and Cheese Grater (officially – 30 St Mary Axe and The Leadenhall Building), proudly looking over the historic Tower of London. In February 2015 its Sky Garden opened to the public.
As the name suggests it’s a garden and viewing platform high in the sky on the 36th floor of the building. The best bit – it’s completely free to visit (see the bottom of the post for details).
A short walk from Tower Hill, Bank, or Monument you’ll find yourself outside 20 Fenchurch Street. Don’t be daunted by its size.
After an airport-style security check (you’ll need your e-ticket and photo ID here), you’re swifly able to go up to the top floor. For those afraid of heights I can confirm that the lift is completely enclosed.
Apart from the lofty heights of its windows, the first thing you’ll spot is its sophisticated southern competitor The Shard.
But in London, there’s room for them both don’t you think?
As you’ll spot from the above picture the main floor is largely dedicated to its bar – Sky Pod. But before you take a seat your first instinct will be to rush toward the windows to take in more of that view.
I went left and got a glimpse of these classics…
One advantage the Walkie Talkie does have over The Shard is its proximity to the Tower of London. Whilst I’m sure I got to see this from other spots in the city, I’ve never seen it from this angle and I loved how clearly you can see its layout. As for the other sites, I imagine on a clear day you’d be able to see Canary Wharf gleaming and much further beyond.
Once I’d taken in enough of this view and spotted as many familiar buildings as possible I took a bit of time to take in Sky Garden’s majestic size, which makes everything look tiny in comparison.
The contrast of its curves and straight lines is a photographer’s dream.
From the view toward the back you can see the Gherkin and Cheese Grater up close. I hope you don’t mind but I’ve saved this view for your visit 🙂
After gazing at the horizon, it’s time to take a look at what’s going on below.
Do you ever find watching the city go by quite mesmerising?
From this view it’s time to play the game of who can spot the most city icons. It’s surprising how many you can find as it follows the curve of the river.
The lovely views continue inside with the landscaped garden that gives the viewing platform its name. It definitely makes it feel more friendly and inviting, and I’m intrigued to see how it will change over time and through the seasons.
Of course no tourist-style trip is complete without proof you’d been there.
After sauntering about and debating what some of the half built and lesser-known buildings were, we took a seat at the bar to record our evidence.
Being a fan of cocktail hours and with the need to book tickets or a table to gain access to the bar, there was little chance I was leaving without browsing the cocktail menu at Sky Pod. I hesistated over the classic options but ended up ordering a Princess Jasmine. The choice being based on it’s ingredients of gin and jasmine (and probably the addition of a pretty petal or two).
Sadly, it didn’t make my top cocktail list but it was thirst quenching and it did complete the Sky Garden experience. I’d also go back to try more of the menu, (which you can view here).
As James has demonstrated you can order beer (and wine too), alongside hot drinks, sandwiches and sweet treats. We actually added a latte to our afternoon as one thing you will find if you visit at this time of the year that it is pretty chilly!
So would I recommend the Sky Garden? Definitely. Add it to a cheap day out in London, make it into a romantic date or treat yourself to dinner with a view. I’m keen to go back at night and in the summer too (when I’m hoping the terrace will be open)
Sky Garden is open seven days a week, Monday to Friday until 6pm (however the restaurants are open later) and the weekends until 9pm. You have to book a ticket to get access and you can do so here.
If you’ve been already, do share your experience below!