The smiles on adults outside the building staring up at the way it curves out over them and the cheery children at the top pointing around at the views out over London are a clue to how successful 20 Fenchurch Street’s Sky Garden deserves to be.
It’s best to think of it not as a garden, but as an outdoor balcony high up in central London, offering amazing views – and with some greenery inside as a bonus.
Entrance is a little restricted – it’s free but you have to book one of a limited number of places in advance or book a table at one the eateries. The upside is that even on a busy morning, there are free seats in the cafe and plenty of space to move around and enjoy the views out.
Normally I much prefer views without obstruction – big panes of glass or nice wide open expanses to look out. (Don’t get me started on the Chicago lakeside cafe that chose chairs and railings so that if you’re sat down the top of the railings exactly blocks out the horizon…) Most of the views from Sky Garden are more cluttered than that, yet they work brilliantly because there’s always another great little sneak peak through another angle.
If you visit, make sure you walk up the stairs to the viewing area at the back too. That’s both because of the lovely view you get of tops of other famous skyscrapers, as if they’ve been beheaded and served up just for you, and also because you then find another set of stairs up to a south facing platform, which even on a busy day is remarkably empty yet also full of great views.
UPDATE: I was back again in April 2017, this time trying out the Darwin Brasserie in the Sky Garden. For a London location with such a great view, it’s about as pricey as you would expect. Lovely service, good breakfasts and some fine views out too:
Watch out however:
You can see all my cafés with view in London here.
Note: although colleagues at work have been involved with some aspects of the development, this is not something I’ve worked on and all the views in this post are my own and unbidden.