London’s highest garden is located on top of the capital’s newest skyscraper, 20 Fenchurch Street, and it occupies three floors, 34th to 37th , and offers some of the most scenic and iconic views of the city. The building is the 5th tallest in the City of London (that is, the old medieval square mile boundaries), and the 13th in the whole of 32 London’s Boroughs.
The astonishing new public space opened in January of this year, and I’ve had the opportunity to visit the garden twice already.
Unlike The Shard where you have to pay between £30-40 to get a 360-degree views of London, the Sky Garden is free of charge but you have to book in advance. After presenting your tickets you pass through ‘airport-style’ security, and you’ll be whisked into a high-speed lift and straight up to the 35th floor where more sliding doors opened to reveal the view.
The Shard will be the first skyscraper you’ll see as soon as you walk into the first sliding door opposite the entrance. The odd looking ‘baseball-shaped’ building is the London City Hall (far left on the next photo) and the large ship on Thames River is HMS Belfast — last used in the Korean War and is now a museum.
The imposing Tower of London and Tower Bridge look amazing from Sky Garden.
122 Leadenhall Street Building on the left aka the “Cheesegrater” and the famous “Gherkin”, 30 St Mary Axe, on the right. On a bright sunny day you can also see all the way to the Wembley Arch.
The garden is nowhere near Kensington Gardens nor is it comparable to any of the lush greeneries in one of London’s royal parks. But you’ll see some tropical trees and shrubs. Oh, and it’s not an English garden either, if you’re expecting to see one. It’s an incredibly unique garden, in fact, it’s kind of bizarre (other-wordly or out of place), I must say. I don’t know if there’s anything like it anywhere else. The garden itself is a work in progress and on our first visit at the beginning of spring, there were some Bird of Paradise flowers already flourishing.
There are some quiet spots along the way to sit and rest for a few minutes.
The space is so vast but it never feels overcrowded though there were loads of people around. There are three eateries in the Sky Garden, the Sky Pod Bar, Darwin Brasserie, and the Seafood Bar and Grill. All managed by Rhubarb, a London caterer that provides the food and drink at The Royal Albert Hall and The Saatchi Gallery. There’s also Sky Pod Bar that serves up casual snacks and afternoon tea. We hadn’t booked anywhere for a meal or anything so can’t comment on the food. We just walked around the garden and enjoyed the stunning views of the city.
If you plan on visiting, get online booking asap as they’re usually booked up to 2-3 months in advance. And don’t forget to bring an identification card and a camera. The place is a photographer’s dream. The light is constantly changing as you walk around the garden.
You can visit Sky Garden by tube, Monument is the closest. Tower Hill, Tower Gate, Aldgate and Bank are less than 10 minutes walk. By train, it’s close to Fenchurch Street, Cannon Street, and London Bridge.