Skyscrapers are popping up everywhere in the City of late, and in addition to providing lots of office space and restaurants, they’re also giving us new free viewing platforms or rooftop gardens. The current flavour of the month for viewing spots is the 50th-floor panoramic viewing platform at the Lookout. Watch this space though, as another viewing platform is set to open, literally next door in the next month or so.
Yes, these things are springing up everywhere and seem to be for free, but they’re not doing this out of the kindness of their hearts, they’re having to abide by a newish rule where skyscrapers in the City are required to include a means of providing public access – they don’t get planning approval otherwise. And I want to make full use of this ‘loophole’ and explore all of them.
Panoramic Views At 8 Bishopsgate
The Lookout is located at 8 Bishopsgate and has been welcoming visitors since August 2023.
First things first. You enter through a revolving door, get your tickets checked, and have your belongings scanned before taking the lift up to the 50th floor. The lifts are quite small (8-10 people) so you might have to wait a bit, but it’s pretty quick to get in and up.
What To Expect From The Free Views At The Lookout?
Yes, the actual space is small compared to other viewing platforms, but the views to North, South and West are worthwhile. Note that there is not a window overlooking East London, as this is where the lifts and toilets are.
All of your go-to landmarks are visible. From Big Ben to the BT Tower and St Paul’s Cathedral. On a good day, you can even see the lattice arch of Wembley Stadium in the far distance.
On the other side, you look down on the Skygarden, peek over the walls of the Tower of London, and see the Tower Bridge. You can also spot the Lloyds of London building, one of my favourites due to its hi-tech architecture that stands out against the other London buildings (one of the architects also worked on the Pompidou in Paris).
Seeing the Natwest Tower was probably my favourite. This looming building has always stood out to me and reminds me of a villains headquarters, I mean even its official name sounds nondescript: Tower 42.
After speaking to a helpful staff member, they said the best view is actually in the evening, so I’ll be going back to see it that in all its glory soon.
Why Choose This Over Skygarden?
It’s higher up, so you get to experience a wider perspective. And where the Skygarden has become a concept on its own, with its bars and dining, the Lookout only focuses on the panoramic views.
What Else Do You Need To Know Before Going To The Lookout?
The viewing spot is located on Bishopsgate near Monument, Bank, Liverpool Street and Aldgate tube stations.
Entry is free, but you have to book tickets ahead of time.
Opening times vary:
Mondays and Fridays 12pm – 9pm
Tuesdays to Thursdays 10.30am – 5.30pm
Saturdays 11am – 6pm
Sundays & Bank Holidays 10am – 5pm
There is one (accessible) toilet on the 50th floor.
There is NO luggage storage and you CANNOT bring a suitcase.
Things to do nearby The Lookout
Get food at Paradise Green that’s part of the Daisy Green group and have a delicious Australian Brunch menu.
If you are up for something on-the-go head to Joe and the Juice on Bishopsgate. It’s also an excellent spot for (iced) matcha.
Head to the nearby Garden at 120! A rooftop garden on the top floor for a different type of viewing platform experience.
Walk around Leadenhall Market. There isn’t much to see, but it’s an iconic London place worth seeing for its architecture.