It was a surprisingly sunny Sunday in London when I took my better half to experience The Sky Garden at number 20 Fenchurch Street, Aka ‘The Walkie Talkie‘.

It’s a strange looking building.  Truth be told I’m not entirely sure I like it, the look of it I mean. The fact that it cost £200m kind of make me feel like I should like it, but the shape and lines of the building just don’t float my boat.  Sorry!

That’s me looking AT the building though.  What about looking out FROM it?

… well, that’s is another thing altogether.

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The Walkie Talkie and it’s Sky Garden was recently bought to my attention by two travel blogging friends – Paul at TravMonkey.com and Beverley at Pack-your-passport.com if you must know. Having seen their photos and comments on social media, I knew that it was a perfect place to spend an intermittently Sunny Sunday with my better half.  Of course I didn’t tell her that it was free to visit the Sky Garden and that I was taking her on a cheap date, but a date was what it was!

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Initial Impressions of The Sky Garden

There were security checks downstair, but in light of recent and terrible events around the globe, these were reassuring and welcomed.  Although thorough, they didn’t take long either and we were soon in the elevator and on the way to the 35th floor.

Our ears popped, more than once as we ascended, but that slight discomfort was totally worth it having reached the 35th floor and exited right out of the lift.

Moving into the Sky Garden, we were presented with a HUGE wall windows, giving an incredible view over the Thames River and southern London.  There’s were a number of seating areas, a cafe/bar, an outside deck which was open to the elements, and of course the garden.

First impressions were very, very good!  I liked it. It felt like a little oasis, tucked away, high above the busy streets. It felt like a great find.

… now to explore

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Food and Drink at The Sky Garden

Now taking into consideration that entry to the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street is free, I expected nothing less than expensive food and drink once inside.

To give you an idea, 2x hot chocolates and 2x muffins came to £13, which is a little steep, but probably not too different from the coffee shops 35 stories below us.  It’s also justified in that, what you might call London’s premiere observation desk – The View From The Shard – costs £25-£29 just for entry.  Value wise the Sky Garden kinda wins, even if it’s observation deck is some 30 stories below that of the Shard.

… Anyway, the food and drink ranged from hot drinks, pastries, sandwiches, beer and cocktails on level 35, to a sit down restaurant service on levels 36 and 37.  We didn’t visit either restaurant, but enjoyed the cafe at level 35. There were plenty of staff and so getting served took minutes and the standard of food was pretty good too.

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Sunset

As with any observation deck experience I book, I’d purposely timed our visit to the Sky Garden for late in the afternoon, so that we could experience the views in both light and dark.

Come 4pm and the sun which had illuminated (surprisingly, I was expecting rain) the streets of London Town for the past 8 hours began to fall out of the sky.

But not before a spectacular sunset.

Observe …

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After Dark

With the sun having done it’s job for another day, London combated the dark by lighting up like a Christmas tree.

Owing to the 360° views, we were able to pick some great locations outside of zone 1, such as the Olympic Park, Wembley Stadium, Alexandra Palace, Battersea Power Station, and the O2.

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Probably the best views however, were of the Thames and all the famous landmarks which line it’s banks.  These were best experienced from out of the open terrace. Cold, but spectacular.

London by nighttime is a special looking place!

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Video (by @TravMonkey)

The below is a video made by fellow blogger and Londoner (adopted Londoner), Paul Dow.  You can find him the following links …

Travel Blog: www.travmonkey.com

Facebook: facebook.com/TravMonkey

Verdict

I liked it, I really liked it … BUT, I can’t help but agree with some of the not so nice words in an article on the Guardian website, where the space is described as less of a garden, and more of a hotel lobby.  But that is me being REALLY picky, as I have to remember that this experience is FREE, and therefore unbelievable value.

Yes the food and drink is expensive, and the garden aspect could have been bigger and better, but I think that’s fair enough given what is provided for you at zero cost.

Would I visit again?  Yes, totally! … in fact I plan to take my parents some time soon.  It is one of the best ways to see London from above which I have experienced.

Would I plan a whole day around it?  … no, not really. It’s great for a couple of hours while watching the sun go down, but I don’t think you should travel to London solely to visit the Sky Garden.

On the whole this is a great attraction in the centre of England’s capital, that is budget friendly .. a rarity in this part of the world.  If you’re in the area, or planning a visit already, by all means get yourself a ticket and see what all the talk is about … just don’t expect a blossoming garden to while away an entire day exploring.  Focus on the cost and views I say.

Enjoy!

The Sky Garden - Fantastic views over London for FREE