The Sky Garden Wasn’t For Me

Sky Garden Tea Was Here (1)

The London Sky Garden

As of 2015, London has a new attraction; a Sky Garden on top of the Walkie Talkie (the ugly building that set fire to cars with its reflection and just doesn’t fit into a skyline that scarily looks more and more like Blade Runner) The good things? It’s for free. The bad? Everything else! Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean it’s worth a visit.

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Why The Sky Garden Wasn’t For Me

It’s free of charge but you need to book ahead, make sure you come on time and bring your ID. But leave the picnic basket, wine, Frisbee, chewing gum and your dog at home because none of those are welcome. There is an airport security like scan to make sure you don’t sneak any of those in. It was the same security treatment I received at the Reichstag in Berlin … which was understandable since it’s the government building.

(The smell of overcooked burgers welcome you, but there is no happy group of people around a barbecue, no laughing kids, no one seems afraid of stepping into dog shit or being overwhelmed by pigeons. We were greeted by a young man who got his job just for his looks and made me feel like I was about to walk in the exclusive suite at an airport.

The place was soulless and nothing like the floating gardens of modern Babylon they initially kept talking about – unless the Gardens of Babylon were designed by fourth graders for their Treasure Island play. The only sincere smile I saw was a young child running around oblivious to where they were and a women sipping on what looked like her fourth glass of wine.

To quote a fellow traveller: ”Even the staff hovering around looked like they wanted to hang themselves, but they wouldn’t be able to because the trees aren’t real and wouldn’t be able to hold a noose let alone their own weight.”

And on top of that, the lift music, cheap looking plastic panelling and decidedly boring decor go in no way to make up for the promise of a public space. It’s more of a viewing platform you go to if you are not bothered to pay £25 for the Shard or £17 for the London Eye. And what about the view? London looks stunning but it’s not presented brilliantly.

The maximum you can stay up there is an hour and a half, but depending on how quick you can do your photo pose you’ll be done in 20 minutes and that’s including a quick stop in the toilets.

I did however enjoy the Art Deco inspired entrance sign on the ground floor which I noticed as I was leaving, amid a crowd of eager, excited faces ready to board the lift to disappointment.

At least the Shard didn’t pretend to offer a public space, it doesn’t care if it invaded the skyline and tore a hole in the sky, this forgetful Walkie Talkie bribed its way into the crowd of buildings like a fake friend wanting to join in the fun the Gherkin and Cheese Grater were having, but it could only get in by offering to give them its lunch money, and the promise of a public access space – which requires booking in advance of at least a three days in advance (but it’s booked out weeks in advance). But at least you can take a selfie, which was the entire purpose of the trip for everyone I saw.

I really hope the next big garden-style project – the Garden Bridge doesn’t suffer a similar fate.
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Where is the Sky Garden London?

The Sky Garden is located on the top floor of 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the Walkie Talkie building, in the City of London.

How to get to Sky Garden London

You can walk to the Sky Garden or take the following public transport:
– There are several buses stop near the Walkie Talkie building.
– The nearest train station is London Bridge and the nearest tube station is Monument. Tower Hill, Tower Gate, Aldgate, Bank and Mansion House are all close by as well.

You enter Sky Garden via the entrance on the south-west corner of 20 Fenchurch Street via Philpot Lane.

Booking tickets for Sky Garden London

As mentioned, visiting the Sky Garden is free, but you need to book tickets ahead of your visit! Tickets are available here and you can book up to three weeks in advance. Remember that tickets are only valid for the date and time stated on the ticket.

Can you go to the Sky Garden without booking?

Yes, there are limited walk-in spots available Monday – Friday, but these are very limited and you need to book separately for the bars and restaurants.

Bars inside Sky Garden London

At the moment there are two overpriced bars located on the floor: the Sky Pod Rooftop Bar and the City Garden Bar. Booking ahead is highly recommended and I’m saying overpriced, because apart from the view they don’t really offer anything special.

Also, there seems to be no dress code, but from what I saw from my visits people did dress up (for an occasion) and make use of the setting for photo opps, which honestly is the best part.

Restaurants inside Sky Garden London

So you might not bring your picnic basket up but you can find food at Fenchurch Restaurant, Fenchurch Terrace and the Darwin Brasserie. I haven’t tried any of the food so can’t give you words of wisdom about the menu or dishes, but remember you are paying for the views, not for the menu.

What I’m missing is a proper Afternoon Tea at Sky Garden, perhaps something they’ll add in the future? If you want an Afternoon Tea high in the sky, head to the Shard.

Toilets inside Sky Garden London

Yes, you can find toilets in the Skygarden. They are near the exit / entrance elevators.

Views From The Sky Garden London

All said, the views are great and that really should be your only reason to visit the Sky Garden. To safe yourself some money and spend in on something else. You can also enjoy the views at The Rooftop at the Post Building in Holborn or the nearby Garden at 120 Fenchurch Street.


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  1. Oh, how disappointing! The trees aren’t real? From your pictures it looks a rather like an airport departures lounge, but without the optimism of a vacation!

    1. Exactly! Nah the trees are real, but they arw quite flimsy and most are ferns, sonot trees trees

  2. This is such a shame! Unfortunately I think the garden bridge will go much the same way. 1. They’re actually reducing the net amount of green space due to the areas they are going to build the bridge supports over on each bank. 2. Groups of over 8 aren’t going to be allowed. 3. No bikes allowed either! 4. The bridge closes at night time. 5. They are allowed to shut it whenever they like for corporate events. Seems like another ‘public space’ used to serve London’s elite under the guide of a community project!

  3. I agree with so much of this. I was so disappointed by the sterility of it and its lack of gardenness. I had a sunnier and brighter day than it looks like you did and so I thought it was still maybe worth a visit for either tourists unwilling to spend the money to go up the Shard or for Londoners with nothing better to do in an afternoon and with low expectations of the space.

  4. We had free tickets but decided to give it a miss. Looks like it was the right decision. Still not paying to go up the Shard though 😉 x

  5. This is so sad and disappointing to hear. Really was looking forward to go there the next time I’m in London. On the internet etc. it sounds really great but if it’s as soulless as you say it is then I’ll have to think again if I really want to go up there.
    And what’s the point of having a public space like that if you can’t even bring a picknick?!!
    The view does look amazing though.

    xx Cheyenne

  6. I am going to London in a few weeks so i might check it out! If anything it will kill some time if i am looking for something to do, some nice views though by the looks of things.


  7. Fake trees? Shit… The whole venue looks so… insipid. Shame, really, because it had everything to work out well.

    1. the trees are real, but just quite flimsy and most are ferns, si not proper trees

  8. Oh disappointing. Still I am going to go for a look – to be honest, I like airports so maybe this is just the place for me