By Maria Fedele
Sky Gardens is undeniably one of the top ‘must-visit’ attractions in London, high on visitor lists of things not to miss in the capital. It’s also a destination which locals return to time and again.
A prominent feature on the city’s vast skyline, Sky Gardens covers the top floor of the mammoth inner-city skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch Street affectionately known as the ‘Walkie Talkie’. As expected, the view is extraordinary and is the primary draw. However, also housed in the building’s upper floors are two fine-dining restaurants and two incredibly suave bars, each of which has been transformed into a glittering winter themed pop-up.
Upon being orderly whisked up to the 35th floor, the elevator doors slowly open, and so too does my mouth: the sheer expanse and grandeur of the space is utterly jaw dropping. The first thing I notice are the massive windows covering all four walls. In my opinion, they offer the best all-encompassing panoramic views of the city. As the building is positioned right in the very heart of London, and every landmark is clearly visible. The uninterrupted views are dramatically spectacular, especially on a clear night when London’s lights are sprawled out like an incandescent galaxy beneath you.
The second appealing factor are the gardens. Boasting the highest public gardens in London, a variety of flora has been expertly planted and maintained in three sloping blocks on either side of the room. It’s a creative and clever concept, completely unique and evocative of an ‘Eden in the Sky,’ an unblemished oasis far from the chaos, pollution and disorder of the busy metropolis far below. In this, it achieves its aim, and you feel as if you have transcended the boundaries of the city.
Festive Food, Christmas Cocktails
The Christmas decorations adorning the main SkyPod bar certainly add to the allure of the space. Colossal glittering white Christmas trees frame the edges of the room, cosy fleece blankets cover the lounges and the deep-seated chairs, while friendly barmen sport festive bowties. Even on a Monday evening, it’s filled with lively patrons whose excited chatter adds to the holiday cheer.
The food and drink options, too, have been ‘merry-fied’. The creative new cocktail menu includes hot and signature cocktails, all with a festive flare. The classic mulled wine fittingly occupies top spot on the ‘hot’ list, followed by the cinnamon and chocolate infused ‘Sweet Temptation’ and the tea based ‘Lazy Sunday.’ As for the signature selection, the ‘Baba au Rum’ with hints of lemon, caramel and homemade honey is a standout, as is the ‘Aurora’, a rum-based cocktail with notes of cocoa, tarragon and a beetroot foam… it’s a concoction that delights the taste buds.
The bar food on offer is a step above the norm as well. The selection of four sharing boards are all incredibly enticing, as is the dessert platter, featuring a mixed berry cheesecake, chocolate fudge brownie, and carrot cake. I sampled the toasted sandwiches, which to be frank, where sadly underwhelming. The pastrami, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese toastie was considerably devoid of fillings, while the truffle and Gruyere was dry and lacking in substance.
However, the toasties are really the only aspect of the experience that missed the mark. The staff are friendly and attentive, while the service is quick and efficient, making a visit to the Sky Pod bar an essential ‘to-do’ this holiday season.
Contributor Maria Fedele is an adventurous traveller and freelance writer from South Australia who has lived in Paris and currently calls London home.