When it comes to big, tall buildings London isn’t really up there with the likes of New York – where you literally break your neck trying to catch the roof tops.
But, the low-profile skyline of London has been changing in recent years with more and more developers clambering for the moon. The opening of The Shard in 2013, an 87-storey skyscraper standing approx. 309 metres (1,014 ft) high – heralded London as home to the tallest building in the European Union.
The Walkie Talkie building (so called because of it’s shape) is located at 20 Fenchurch St. The 34-storey building is approx 160 m (525 ft) tall and while only being London’s fifth tallest building – it is home to London’s highest roof garden.
Situated on the top storey and offering two restaurants and a cafe, this roof garden is allegedly a “public park” – which was part of the agreement for the original planning permission.
Now, while it may be free to get in – you do have to book tickets in advance, bring photo ID and go through an airport-like security procedure – including bag and personal scanners – although I did manage to keep my shoes on!
I was fortunate to get in on opening day – although the view would be a whole lot better if it wasn’t raining so much (they have yet to install wiper blades!)
The park inside lacks a general feeling of “parkness”. Basically, it seems to be a whole lot of ferns and fauna in the middle of a giant glass building with a lot of steps around the outside.
From the inside looking up, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in the Eden Project, but luckily the humidity levels have been carefully controlled. Maybe too controlled as on the day of my visit it was really very chilly – so much so the bar staff were wearing body warmers and I was given a hot water bottle to keep warm!
Seating-wise I spotted the grand total of 4 blocks of wood for the whole “park” area.
Although in the bar and restaurant areas there were plenty more seats on offer. Drink prices are reasonable for London standards – a cappuccino was £3.10 and a medium-size glass of decent Rioja was £7.
But, don’t be fooled by the comfy looking sofas. Flopping down into this I got a shock – it’s just rock-hard, moulded plastic. With no bounce. *Ouch*
Looking just beyond the sofas, you can also glimpse the roof terrace which will be open from March onwards – and will definitely be a treat for the eyes.
But for me, the Walkie Talkie roof-garden-public-park place really came to life when it started to get dark. Quietly the staff lit the tables with glowing lanterns which gave the vast glass space a magical aura. Surrounded by the glowing plantings amid the lights of London – this is when you really want to get yourself a ticket to the Walkie Talkie.