I decided on the first day of this year that it was time to start dating London. Nothing too serious. We’re just testing the waters, to see if there’s any potential for something more.
You see, London is a bit sick of me sitting around my house in my pyjamas until one in the afternoon without eating or showering (that may or may not be the situation I’m currently in as I write this up – I’ll leave that for you to decide). So, London gently said: “Get clean, get out of the house and come see all the amazing sights that I have to offer!”
I replied: “Fine. If I have to. Got any that won’t cost me a penny?”
And that is where the Sky Garden came up in conversation.
London’s once pristine skyline is now dotted with several skyscrapers – each one memorable within their own right. The Gherkin is a architectural stunner, the least offensive of the bunch. I’ve never really have any sort of interaction with Cheesegrater, as it is generally permanently obscured from my view. (I want to stop here for a moment of appreciation for the British people and their tendency to nickname their buildings. Okay. We can move on now.)
I never know how to feel about The Shart – sometimes I like it, sometimes it is the source of all my misery.
Then there’s the Walkie Talkie. And I never have any doubt on my feelings about this building.
I completely and utterly despise it.
Yet hidden away within this monstrosity, is said to be one of the most intriguing public spaces within London… a garden, 35 stories high in the sky.
With entry being free, I could see no reason against going to check it out.
The booking process is pretty simple. Navigate to the website to grab your tickets, generally about a week in advance. You’ll be allocated a viewing time. From there, you need rock on up at that time and bring some form of ID.
You’ll then be subjected to a security check, as this is the world we live in now.
After that – you’re free! Free to go upstairs and take in the view.
The Sky Garden website promotes itself as offering “uninterrupted views of the city”. I can only imagine that this is the case, as the Walkie Talkie isn’t in it.
There’s a viewing platform (on which selfie sticks are banned from use to my complete and utter delight) which boasts a view of the Shard from across the Thames. I spend a rather large portion of my time in that building, so it was strange to be looking at it for once, rather than gazing out from within.
Straight inside is a small café, selling beers, drinks, cakes, pastries. Since I decided to go plastic free, I’ve been noticing the stuff everywhere. I was pretty disappointed to see the establishment was serving their coffees and teas out of takeaway coffee cups. Plus, there was the use of plastic straws – so unnecessary, they make me want to tear my hair out. That’s a topic for another blog post, I suppose.
From there, you can walk up a series of steps past the garden, to check out the view at the back of the building.
I was a bit disappointed with the set up here. There were no observation decks, which seemed a shame. I’ve never really seen the city from this point of view – ironically because the Walkie Talkie blocks it from the Shard. I thought I might have a chance here to rule the middle man out, but no such luck.
You can then either journey to the “upper platform” outside the restaurant, or walk down the stairs, past people in the gardens taking photos with their bloody selfie sticks (they’re unfortunately not banned here). You are given the option to purchase an exorbitantly priced beverage from the café (I suppose they have to make their money somehow, as do all pubs in that particular area) or call it a day.
The verdict? If I had to pay to get into the Sky Garden, I’d feel pretty hard done by. However for £0, particularly when the View from the Shard costs over £25, you can’t really complain. It’s definitely the easiest and cheapest way to see London. Cross your fingers for blue skies.