Sunday 17 May 2015

The Sky Garden, Fenchurch Street, central London

Although you have to book tickets a couple of weeks in advance, entrance to the Sky Garden (at the top of the so-called Walkie-Talkie skyscraper) is free and open to anyone - a prerequisite for planning permission, apparently. Once you have been through security, a fast, silent lift whizzes you up to the 35th floor, where you are greeted by a huge wall of glass panels facing the space age Shard. You will be drawn out, through the revolving doors, on to the balcony to take in the sweeping views over the Thames and south London sprawl. Back inside, you can climb the stairs through the lush, green shrubbery to another wall of glass overlooking the Gherkin and Cheesegrater skyscrapers, next to the ageing NatWest Tower. As you climb and descend the staircases, there are fine views west, taking in St. Paul's Cathedral, and east, taking in the Tower of London and Canary Wharf. Finally, you should buy an expensive drink from the self-assured, smartly dress bar staff, grab a seat and enjoy this extraordinary airy space. The orange and raspberry fruit juice (£3.50) is particularly good. 8/10