Right at the center of London, the place which every true traveler dreams to see, is standing an emerged, different from all the other tiny buildings tower. The Walkie Talkie Tower, also known by locals and tourists as 20 Frenchurch Street has something special about it. Aside from the fact that its very building was, and still is, a controversial issue – as you’ve probably noticed, skyscrapers are gathered in a slightly different part of London, this tower, although not the highest one in London, offers quite the unique view over London that cannot be replicated by any other place.
What else is unique about this tower? Well, in order to get your hands, or rather eyes, on a similar view over the capital of Britain, you usually need to prepare for fancy restaurant or bar, stuff your wallet and bear in mind the thought that it won’t stay stuffed for long. And for a change, the Walkie Talkie tower offers quite the different experience – you can of course opt for a cocktail at the bar, but you can also grasp the London panorama for free and with that – walk around surrounded by plants and hills at the famous Sky Garden situated at the 38th floor of the building!
Sky Garden carries this name because from the very start it was planned not only to offer the magnificent 360-degree view of London with all the towers, mainly The Shard, Tower Bridge, the river and every last tiny spot contributing to the diversity of London. Its other main attraction is the plants and trees that it hosts; some parts of this 38th floor are made to resemble green hills climbing towards the sky.
To be honest, the gardens are not as authentic and breath-taking as they were expected to be ever since the project for the public space come out. The area of Sky Garden is huge, seriously, there is a lot of space. And somehow, most of it is used for seating area and bars, mainly the bar at the center of the floor. So even though it started with a beautiful idea, Sky Garden has this flaw – it could use a bit more garden…
At the places where plants and hill imitations actually are, there are very cute seatings which really fulfill their purpose and make you feel as if you are in a park or even among the green beauty of a meadow. Unfortunately, these seats are limited, especially in comparison with the remaining…let’s say roughlt 500 places at Sky Garden, and thus are hardly ever available.
The view though is absolutely incomparable to anything you’ve seen. You can easily spend a good hour or two just circling the place, sticking your nose at the glass and breathing in every ray of details that London has. I cannot say that it is necesarrily better than what you can se from The Shard as it is twice as high, but the location of 20 Frenchurch really adds up some points!
What might be noted as a flaw here is the architecture. You may have noticed the stange cocktail and the private dining hall named after the creator of this building – Rafael Viñoly. We all admire his efforts, his inquisitive view of architecture and the innovative idea to give London a fresh garden in the skies. The downfall here is, however, that he might be a person adimiring himself quite enough – the impressive amounts of steel covering the windows and many parts of the gardens seem a tad excessive; people go to Sky Garden so as to gaze at London, not at the peculiar building ideas of an architect. But even with this metal obstacle there is surely enough to see!
Another detail that could use some improvement is the placement of the seating areas. Somehow it has come to be that each bar/café/restaurant or public seating are is so far away from the windows that if you decide to catch your breath, you are isolated from the view. This is not a surprise, as the place is so enourmous, there are of course some window seats, but compared tho the overall number – I guess they are not enough.
Now the most interesting part about Sky Garden. Its whole idea centers around the visitor. The very project for the building of Sky Garden was proposed with the task of creating a public space which everyone can afford to visit. How? Well, there is no entry fee!
You have to book your visit at least three days in advance though. In order to prevent City Garden becoming uncomfortably crowded, reservation must be made, it’s quite sensible. And basically the time you have for wandering around is 1,5 hours. Also, you should keep in mind that by 6p.m. every guest who is not a client of the bars and restaurants is not that welcome to stay…
And maybe another thing that deserves mentioning is the though process after which you can get in Sky Garden. First of all, don’t forget your reservations! On paper, phone, other device – whatever – you need to have them with you. And the names on them must be the same as on you ID cards, which you obviously need to bring and show as well. The whole security process is as serious as that on a country border, but I think it’s very fast and effective, so you shouldn’t be put off by this tiny inconvenience.
What I personally don’t admire that much is the curfue… The best views that could be taken of London are exactly those happening under the dim light of the evening. But I suppose that this place has to sell somehow in order to survive. So let’s quickly mention the several places where you can dine, have lunch or just gossip over cocktails while gazing over the capital high in the skies.
The Frenchurch offers quiet a satisfactory meny of dishes for those who have decided to take their significant others to the Sky Garden or for those who simply need an out of the ordinary place for an important business lunch. They also have a nice wine list for the connoseurs! Just don’t forget their opening hours, because they are not as standard as one might expect.
Lunch: Mon to Sat: 11:45am-2:45pm, Sun 11:45am-3:15pm
Dinner: Mon to Sat: 5:45pm-10:15pm, Sun: 5:45pm – 8:45pm.
Here is the place to ordera beautifully crafted sweet cocktail and spend the evening with friends or collegues. Both bars offer a good list of cocktails with prices, high, but not surprisingly high for such a place. If you are hesitating between a bar and a restaurant – keep in mind that the bars also offer some tasty refreshments and snacks!
And for the healthy eaters and those who are able to get up earlier and actually get to Sky Garden for a breakfast – Darwin Brasserie is the venue. With its fresh light eggs, omelettes, pancakes and what else not, the vegetarian menu, the delicious smoothies and juices, this place really promises a good start of the day. Combined with the option for a buffet (and with that for a price that is quie affordable) Darwin Brasserie looks like a really good morning option.
And the last thing I want to mention about Sky Garden is a simple idea about what to do with your time before you go for breakfast at Darwin Brasserie. Every day there are yoga classes at Sky Garden for only £10 – very early in weekdays: 6:30-7:30 a.m. and more bearable on Saturday and Sunday: 9-10 a.m. But to do yoga high in the sky just when the sun has risen, feeling on top of he world (literally) is not an opportunity to miss.
You can get more information and book a space Here.
After all the extraordinary features of Sky Garden I’ve just told you about, I would be sincerely surprise if you don’t opt for seeing it yourself! Try it out and share what you think in the comments!