Katherine Morris gets a new view of London from 20 Fenchurch Street

By November 28, 2015


Photo credit: Martin Pettitt

Photo credit: Martin Pettitt

If you are looking for something free to do in London this weekend, look no further than 20 Fenchurch Street, nicknamed the ‘Walkie Talkie’ tower – it’s hard to miss.

Offering three levels of landscaped public gardens, the famous and imposing glass dome of the skyscraper stands out a mile from its neighbours. By day or night, sunrise or sunset, expect panoramic 360-degree views. Even with a ubiquitous London haze and a layer of fog, the view is impressive. It is a place of tranquility where visitors are encouraged to wander and take in the views.

London’s highest public garden begins as you exit the elevator on the 35th floor. Instantly greeted by the Sky Pod bar which looks towards the river and has views of famous London landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, undeniably first impressions are good. Here you can enjoy a coffee (or a cocktail) and the cake comes highly recommended.

The open-air terrace quickly reminds you exactly how many floors high you are and gives a different, more exposed viewpoint of London. Climb a tier higher to the 36th floor and you’ll find the Darwin Brasserie, a sweeping bar serving classic British cuisine. The most exclusive eatery, the Fenchurch Restaurant can be found on the 37th floor and is a place for refined dining.

Designed by award winning landscape architect practice Gillespies, the natural garden is fully juxtaposed by its urban surrounding. Mediterranean flowers, plants and palm trees are combined with South African species to create a tropical atmosphere.

Critics have questioned how far the project has remained true to the reason it was granted planning permission: a promise to provide an accessible, public space with extensive views over the evolving city below. It’s hard to deny that it falls short of expectation in that sense–you have to book days in advance and during the evening the garden is open only to the private paying guest or those dining in the exclusive bars and restaurants. Despite this, the Sky Garden offers spectacular views of the city and is worth a visit.