Since its opening in early 2015, the Sky Garden in London has been the hottest, and one of the trendiest, panoramic views that the city has to offer. From its outset, the garden has promised to blend metropolitan with mother nature, bringing a pretty green space into the very heart of the city.
It’s the kind of place that I’ve been meaning to check out for ages, but never actually visited…Well, a couple of days ago, all this changed when I finally managed to secure two tickets to head up and into the very heart of London’s skyline. Oh, and before you ask, a visit to the sky garden is free!
Considering that tickets are incredibly limited, and can only be booked up to two weeks in advance, they’re pretty much like gold dust- so definitely get them before you arrive in the city… Situated at 20 Fenchurch Street, the garden is located pretty near to Monument Tube Station (aka also right by the Monument to the Great Fire of London). I have no idea how I didn’t know this before, but the sky garden is the very same place as the Walkie Talkie building in the very heart of London’s financial district.
Building and Controversy!
From its outset, the Sky Garden sat in the very midst of a heated controversy. Although the architect always conceived that the roof of the building would be a public garden, the area sits in the very middle of a conservation area. And for a towering skyscraper like 20 Fenchurch Street, planning was always going to be difficult. The main controversy surrounding the concept was that it would overpower all the buildings around it. And now that the tower has been built, you can see that the critics weren’t all wrong. From the distance, the Walkie Talkie building is a bit of a pariah, towering above all the others in the surrounding area and glinting in the sunlight.
Planning permission was only granted because of the sky garden. And one of the stipulations? That it be free for the public to visit. Now towering at 160m high, the Walkie Talkie is now the 11th tallest building in London. And, although this might not sound like much, 160m is all you need for a spectacular view. Today, the sky garden sits in pride of place at the top of the Walkie Talkie, towering above the rest of London and offering unparalleled views over the Big Smoke. It’s one of the rare times where you can experience harmony between man and nature; neither overpowers the other.
Sky Garden Balcony
Without a doubt, the best part about the sky garden is the view. And part of that view is an open-air balcony running along the entire length of the floor. This is definitely the first place I recommend you check out on your sky garden visit- and make sure you take a camera as the views over Tower Bridge and the Thames are truly breathtaking!
Sky Garden Café
Considering that there’s no entry cost, I had no qualms in paying a little bit more for a coffee than I would elsewhere. Amongst the trees, shrubs and gentle chatter of other excited visitors, I truly enjoyed sipping on an espresso and chatting with my boyfriend about London, life and the garden itself.
What is visiting 20 Fenchurch Street like?
The day of the visit I was super excited, like, a child before Christmas kind of excited. I’d previously been up to the top of the Shard, but that was kind of it when it comes to panoramic views over London. Plus, the weather was fantastic; blue skies and not a cloud in sight. In a city like London, where the weather changes as quickly as the train timetable, the fact that you have to book tickets in advance means that weather can easily make a visit to the garden a hit or miss.
After a bit of trouble trying to find the entrance, our tickets were scanned and we were quickly whisked through airport security. I’d say that the time from entrance to getting into a lift was around 20 minutes in total. 30 seconds and 38 floors later, we were in one of the most spectacular spaces I’ve ever seen. When you visit, I highly recommend giving yourself a couple of minutes just to admire the space, let alone rushing off to photograph the view or heading straight to the bar- something I’m pretty sure we’re all guilty of in the social media age.
The Sky Garden is the kind of place where you can really get comfortable, live in the moment and enjoy the atmosphere. It’s the kind of place where you can switch off for a couple of hours and forget that you’re actually in the middle of one of the busiest capital cities in the world.