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.
Where is 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.
There are limited walk-in spots available, 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 and make use of the setting for photo opps.
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 option, perhaps something they’ll add in the future?