For a lunch break with a view, there are few venues that can top London’s Sky Garden. Offering sweeping panoramas across the great metropolis, the 155-metre bruiser offers a high-rise oasis of calm. Raising you above the stress of office life, you can kick back, relax and gaze loftily at your fellow worker ants scurrying through the City streets.
Located at 20 Fenchurch Street in the heart of London’s financial district, the Walkie Talkie casts a domineering shadow over the skyline. Known as the “building with more up top” the lucrative upper floors were designed to provide public amenities that workers, residents and visitors could enjoy.
However, the innovative architectural design has not been without its problems. The most notable of which has been its concave south-facing glass facade which has fried eggs on pavements and even burnt the bumper of a Jaguar during sizzling summer days.
Rocking up on a Wednesday lunchtime, there’s only a handful of people ahead of me and once through the airport-style scanners, I’m swiftly escorted into the lifts. With a smooth click, I’m propelled up to the 35th floor in a matter of seconds.
The timed entrances (you’re allowed one hour maximum) ensure that there’s space to spread out and no long queues for the bar.
With a gasp, I enter an enormous glass emporium filled with frothy ferns, towering palms and glossy, green shrubbery. An immediate feeling of space and light envelops me as I gaze round this high-rise conservatory. The laid back lounging vibe is apparent in the cosy sofas covered in cushions and pastel blankets – perfect for snuggling up under on a cold winter day.
You can also opt to perch on a tree stump or retreat to your own secluded alcove to rest and contemplate the view. Festooned in colourful orchids, the City Garden bar has its own distinctly tropical vibe, transporting you to Asia in your lunch break. The drinks menu ranges from single malts to double espressos. (Prices ranging from £3.00 for a coffee to £7.00 for a liqueur.)
The lunchtime fare is limited to a small range of salads and a rather bland range of sandwiches (around £5.00). Craving Pret’s Posh Cheese and Pickle, I settle instead for Tuna Mayo.
Still, the stunning views and endless space more than makes up for the limited lunchtime fare. If it’s a pay day celebration, you can opt to push the boat out at the Fenchurch Restaurant or the Darwin Brasserie.
Catching the breeze, I head to the open-air terrace which provides jaw-dropping views over the Thames, the Tower of London and across to the Shard. It’s only at this altitude that you can truly grasp the vastness of London sprawled out as far as the eye can see.
Drifting back into the glass dome, the gentle drift of Rosemary and Lavender beckons me up the stairs past towering African Lillies, Red Hot Pokers and colourful birds of paradise.
The genius of the Walkie Talkie’s top-heavy frame becomes abundantly clear as I wander around the perimeter of the glass dome where every possible angle of the capital is illuminated before me.
All too soon, my half hour is up. As I scurry back to the office feeling on top of the world, I wonder if my lunch break in the clouds will have worked wonders for my blue-sky thinking? Somehow, I doubt it.
Entry to the Sky Garden is free but advance booking is essential. Book at least one week in advance to avoid disappointment. Don’t forget to bring your passport with you if you are the lead name on the booking.