Considering that the Walkie Talkie building is my office’s next-door neighbor, when the Sky Garden opened with visits free as long as you book in advance, I had to explore.
You will probably know the Walkie Talkie building as ‘that one that melts cars’ after it’s, ahem, very clever concave shape turned out to concentrate the suns beams down onto the street like a giant heat laser. Who would have foreseen that!? Perhaps an architect… Or not.
I do remember a particularly amusing lunchtime just after the car melting scandal had taken place, when I went to get some lunch from the local Tesco. It involved walking through the Walkie Talkie ‘hot spot’, and naturally it was crammed with reporters trying to fry eggs on the pavement. Naturally.
I stopped for a minute to watch the ridiculous media circus until it got a bit too hot (it really was baking) and went to get my lunch. A few minutes later I emerged with my sandwich to find the same egg-frying reporters frantically tipping bottled water on their car. Their car, which they had parked on the road right next to where they were filming. Filming about a melted car.
Anyway, the Walkie Talkie’s car melting days are over ever since it was covered in small ‘fins’, which block the refraction of the sun. These days it’s just another boring skyscraper to add to the concrete jungle that is forming in the City at an alarming pace.
I felt that the fact you had to book at least a week in advance in order to have a cup of coffee was a bit of a hassle to begin with, but I had no idea. Upon arrival, you also have to show a printed entry ticket individually naming yourself and every other person who you booked for. Then, you all need to show photo ID to confirm your names. This and the clear instructions on the tickets stating not to bring in ‘fireworks or other explosive devices’ not being quite enough to deter everyone, it would seem, you also finally need to go through airport style security in order to even get to the elevators. All I could think was it better be a good cup of coffee.
Coming out of the elevators, the first impression of the Sky Garden is impressive. One massive view out to the river and South London greets you, and to either side of you are the sloping rainforest-esque gardens. And the views are brilliant.
I had a little ‘wow London is actually very large’ moment. Perhaps that is fairly obvious without needing to go up 35 stories for visual confirmation, but then again, I once spent two weeks staying in a room without realizing it had an en-suit bathroom, so it could be argued that I am not the most observant of people.
I wandered around inside for a bit and enjoyed the gardens, which were lovely. It’s slightly depressing/ironic if, as a City worker in London, you have to go inside of a skyscraper to get your green space, but lovely none the less.
While the gardens were beautiful and well thought out, I did think that the seating area for drinks was seriously lacking and nonsensical. I’m no interior designer, but fur rugs and blankets draped over sofas to give a cliché Nordic feel didn’t really work with the obvious lobby flooring and adjacent tropical gardens. It didn’t really matter though, because once you were sat down and the sun came out, it was magical witnessing the chaos that is London from a bird’s eye view.
All in all, a nice way to spend an afternoon drinking coffee.
Okay, I didn’t have a coffee. I had wine. Whatever.