Depending on where you’re traveling from, London can be quite an expensive city to visit. There are not much things that you can do here for free which is why whenever something like that comes to light, I get all excited about it. A lot of people have told me how beautiful and worth visiting Sky Garden is which made me put it right at the top of my London bucket list. Two weeks ago, I was finally able to visit it.
The Sky Gardens is located at the 35th floor of 20 Fernchurch Street building otherwise known as the Walkie Talkie because of its shape. I’m not really into modern architecture and for me, this building is a sore to my eyes specially as it doesn’t really blend well with the rest of London. I probably would’ve written a disclaimer to not listen to me because I know nothing about architecture but apparently, a lot of people agrees with me (even UNESCO criticized it) and the Sky Garden was included in this building as a saving grace. It may be a horrible-looking building but hey, it boasts the highest garden in London which offers a great view that you can access for free.
Although the visit to Sky Garden is free, you have to make a booking for you to be allowed to go inside (booking is straightforward and a very easy online process). Upon entrance, staff will check your reservation confirmation and you’ll also have to go through an airport-style security. That security area will somehow give you an idea of what awaits you at the 35th floor because as soon as I walked in to the Sky Garden, it did remind me so much of Dubai Airport Terminal 3.
To be completely honest, I was a bit disappointed by all the hype about it. The “garden” was almost non-existent – there were only 2 trees on the main gallery and a pretty landscape of plants on both sides of it. I was probably misinformed or I might have been expecting something else as it was described on their website as “exquisitely landscaped public gardens“. Based on that description alone, I was expecting that I’d walk in a very lush and very green space as what a garden should be. It wasn’t a garden at all, it was just an open space with plants on both sides of it for aesthetic purposes. I’m not saying that it’s not beautiful because it is, I just wouldn’t call it a garden.
While I was surely disappointed by the lack of the garden space in Sky Garden, the views from up there was truly impressive. It’s another amazing way to see London from a different perspective and on top of that, it’s for free. The Thames River looks gorgeous from up there and I believe it would be lovelier if you see it in the evening with the whole of London lit.
There are 5 food and beverage outlets in the Sky Garden and I wanted to try the Darwin Brasserie but I was kind of put off by the location of the restaurant. I know, I’m weird. Location and views is probably more important for me than the food itself when I’m visiting a restaurant and from what I’ve seen, it’s better for me to try the cafe at the main gallery as it offers a much more beautiful views. I tried to have coffee at the main gallery but I was again put off when I saw that they were serving coffee in a paper cup. Okay, I admit – it has nothing to do with the views nor the paper cups. It’s all because it’s not instagrammable. #bloggerlife
So instead of having a meal or a drink, I went to the terrace to admire the London view more. The Shard building which is equally-menacing to my eyes is right smack in the middle of the view from Sky Garden. The beautiful Tower Bridge is on the left side and just beside it is the Tower of London. Seeing all these places which I have previously visited from a different vantage point is kind of interesting. It’s like you’re doing a helicopter tour of London when you’re in Sky Garden.
I do see myself going back there from time to time and I believe that it’s going to be one of those places that I’d take visitors to. On my next visit, I’m sure that I won’t be as disappointed about the lack of garden space as I already know what to expect. I’ll probably have to warn my visitors though.
Plan your visit to the Sky Gardens:
Nearest underground station: Monument
Opening Times: Monday – Friday, 10AM-6PM | Weekends – 11AM-9PM
Book your free visit here.
Tip: You’ll be able to take better photos of the view if you go in the morning as the sun would be against your camera if you go in the afternoon. I went there at 1pm and I couldn’t take a decent photo of the River Thames and the rest of London.