One small part of the grand celebrations for my cousin’s wedding in London this weekend was a visit to the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street. It was a fantastic experience, and I highly recommend you visit if you can.
The gardens are at the top of a ludicrously tall sky scraper located just around the corner from the Tower of London. According to the website:
“The famous enlarged glass dome of 20 Fenchurch Street is dedicated to three storeys of exquisitely landscaped public gardens and London’s most exclusive social spaces, including observation decks and an open air terrace.”
Exclusive it may be, but you can actually visit the gardens for free if you simply book a timed slot via the website. We arrived for our slot promptly at 3.45 on Saturday, were ushered inside for a quick security check, and hopped in a lift that took us to the 35th floor. The lift ascended so rapidly that our ears popped!
Standing out on the open-air terrace, the views of the city are incredible. The kids were thrilled to see Tower Bridge lift up its arms to let a big ship pass through. We could see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the Gherkin building, the BT Tower, pretty much everything, in fact, because as you walk up the stairs to the back of the building and back down again to the terrace, you get a full 360 degree view of London.
Our 1 hour time slot gave us plenty of time to soak up the views, explore the gardens, and grab a quick cup of hot chocolate. If you prefer, you could have a cocktail while you’re up there, or book a table at the very fancy looking restaurant.
The gardens themselves are constructed as a series of richly planted terraces, dominated by drought-tolerant Mediterranean and South African plants. My favourites were the tree ferns, of which there are many varieties, and Tradescantia ‘Zebrina’, which I remember as a very common, trailing plant from my childhood in Kenya. Some of the planting seemed to be suffering a little from white fly, but I suppose that is to be expected in what is essentially a giant greenhouse. There were only a few plants in flower when we visited, but the foliage was wonderful, in all shapes, textures and shades of green. At other times of year, you should be able to see Red Hot Pokers and Bird Of Paradise flowers.
Here and there are little places to sit amongst the greenery, and the place never felt too crowded, although it is a deservedly popular destination. My daughter played peekaboo among tree fern fronds and the boy used my phone to take bad photos of the views. All in all, we had a lovely time, before dashing off to the next wedding event in a busy, fun, family-filled, long weekend that I am still recovering from.
Plan Your Visit
The Sky Garden is open 7 days a week.
Address: Sky Garden, 1 Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF.
Book your free visit via the website, up to 3 weeks in advance.