By Koray Hussein
Last week I posted a Photo Walk of one of the absolute best places to take in London’s sunset. For months and months I’ve banged on about just how incredible Primrose Hill is for watching the sun rise and set over London’s unmistakable skyline but… I may have actually found somewhere even better. Don’t get me wrong, Primrose Hill is still one of my favourite places in the city but watching London turn beautiful shades of orange, purple and pink as the sun dips below the horizon from such a height is mind blowing.
Sky Garden is home to a café, bar and restaurant but there’s plenty of time to head back and visit those so I decided to just focus on the garden itself for my first visit.
Upon entering the rear entrance at 20 Fenchurch Street I was greeted by the obligatory security checks. There’s no way you’re going to have an attraction of this scale and not force people to walk through a metal detector or two. Luckily, all the staff I dealt with on the day were friendly, approachable and never once made me feel like a terrorist just for having a beard and Hussein as a surname (unlike most airports).
Note to all the optimistic photographers out there: No, you can’t use your tripods up there so put them away.
Once you’re done with all the security bollocks you’re ushered into the lift and within moments you’re walking out through glass doors and taking in the majestic sight of the Shard with the rest of London as it’s backdrop.
Most of the tables were taken but that didn’t really bother me. I had no interest in sitting down and fully intended to circle the place my entire time there as we were approaching sunset and golden hour was in full swing.
One thing I hadn’t really noticed until I reached the top, was just how perfect the Sky Garden’s location actually is! Right in front of you, you have the Shard, to the right you have the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral and the BT tower, once you scale the steps to the large flat (I’m going with) observation deck, you have the Heron Tower, Cheese Grater and the Gherkin and from the last remaining side you have Canary Wharf, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge… and that’s all without even mentioning how hypnotic the Thames can be when viewed from such a height. It’s perfect.
I stayed for just over an hour (there’s no real limit to how long your visit has to be but one worker told me that visitors are advised to not stay any longer than one and a half hours… but can stay longer if they wish… Take from that what you will.) and only managed to leave because I had plans that evening.
I only have one gripe with Sky Garden… and that is that the Francis Golding Terrace, at the front was not open, but I was assured that it will be opening sometime in March, so we haven’t got too long to wait. Other than that the visit was really enjoyable and I applaud the guys in charge for giving the tickets away for free and making their money back through the decently priced café, restaurant and bar… I’m looking at you The View At The Shard.