Sky Garden review (Mar 2015)
This is an old review Read my most recent review here
London has gained quite a few new skyscrapers in recent years. We're going through a growth spurt. They seem to be springing up quicker than flowers.
I like skyscrapers. Anything that blocks out the sun is good. Anything that can create its own storms down on the pavement and funnel the wind like a hurricane is good. But this one has got another trick up its sleeve because it can actually channel the power of the sun into a tightly focused jet of death. And I'm not even joking!
When the building opened in early 2014 everyone was very interested in the curved facade -- especially when it started focusing the sunshine like a giant concave mirror. Cars parked in the street got so hot that their bodywork blistered (true!). So this building has real power -- the power to melt metal. The power of death and destruction and fiery flames! If the devil ever came to London then this is where he would live. It's official name is 20 Fenchurch Street, but everyone calls it the Walkie Scorchie (because it looks like a walkie-talkie too). I call it Dr. Evil's HQ.
You can guess what happened next though... the bosses started having panic attacks and nightmares about the building burning up humans in the street, and got the builders back in to fix it. So you don't have to worry anymore because it is totally safe -- they put a load of metal bars across the glass. Boo! But that's okay because it's got another little surprise inside: a three-story greenhouse at the summit. That is where I am headed today -- to the Sky Garden.
It's free to get inside, but the security for it is totally ridiculous. You have to order a ticket on their website, and then take some photo ID along with you so they can match it up with your personal details -- which basically means taking your passport if you're a tourist. You don't even have to do that for Parliament! They let you into the House of Commons with no ticket or ID whatsoever, but this place wants to know your entire life story just to ride the lift.
It's not exactly the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. We are not talking Kew Gardens here, so don't go expecting a greenhouse full of lush vegetation. They've got a few palm trees, but no coloured flowers. All I saw were green leaves and cacti on a sloping mound of mud. It's highly likely that I caught it out of season though, so I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt on that: it's probably a lot better in the summer.
But all I came for was the view anyway, and that is pretty great. It's arranged like big open courtyard with seats and a cafe in the middle, and you can climb a flight of stairs either side. Then there's another level on top with a seafood brasserie.
The south side just looks out at the Shard. The Walkie Scorchie towers above pretty much everything in the city, but the Shard just keeps on going and going until it's halfway into space. The north side gives you the Gherkin and the Cheese-grater building. But it's the views on either side that will knock you out. The west side looks straight down the Thames past St. Paul's Cathedral and the London Eye, whilst the east side drops you straight down onto the Tower of London. You get a really good birds-eye view of it, and Tower Bridge too, with the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf in the distance.
I'm obviously a big fan of London, so I was standing there for a good hour trying to pick everything out.
Hey, I've got an idea... let's have a little competition between you and me. See if you can spot Buckingham Palace (for 10 points), Big Ben (20 points), Primrose Hill and St. Pancras station (you will really need to know London for those!), the British Museum (very hard), the Royal Courts of Justice (easy peasy) and Wembley arch. If you can pick out the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich and Alexandra Palace then give yourself a pat on the back. It's a lot harder than it needs to be because they don't have any telescopes. They haven't even got any of those silver plaques to tell you what's what. You might want to bring a map of London with you to help you out a bit.
A couple of other things worth noting: The lift is quick enough and high enough to make your ears pop, if you worried about that kind of thing. And they do have an exterior balcony, but they weren't letting anyone onto it today (I'm guessing that it was too windy).
Guest – how much is sky garden
Admin – It's free. But you need to order a ticket from their website.
Guest – Cool. I'm inspired and do like my London so this is a must!
Guest – Really interesting info... Will definitely visit next time I visit family. Thank you
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