Since the day Eastenders decided to incorporate the melodrama of a slow motion zoom-out of the Thames into its opening sequence, the view of London from above has become a quintessential chunk of the capital’s personality and character. The London Eye was finished in the year 2000, giving selfie-taking tourists the opportunity to sample our beloved city from the clouds. The Shard followed suit in 2013, piercing the skyline with lofty might and grandeur, as the architect clearly over-compensated for something. Unlike its attention-grabbing brothers, the Walkie Talkie building isn’t known for its awe-inspiring heights or as an attraction hotspot. Thank God it isn’t, as Bank’s secretive sky garden remains Fenchurch Street’s worst best-kept secret.
While the metropolis brags to the world of its diversity and culture – where else in the world would a bar made of ice and a café populated by cats be based a mere ten minutes from one another? – the Sky Garden is dignified and subtle, its observation decks providing an unrestricted 360 degree view of the city, their bar boasting a catalogue of live musicians each month and the establishment’s class making you feel like you’ve walked into a Bond movie. Injecting a trickle of paradise into the heart of the urban jungle, the novelty and decorum of a tropical speak-easy 155 metres up is irresistible, with week-long free entry and a buzzing weekend atmosphere.
The Sky Garden is unique and ambidextrous: this bar is the kind of place you can take your rural mother when showing off your city on a grim Wednesday afternoon, yet let your hair down with colleagues at the end of that gruelling ten-hour Friday shift. Rafael Viñoly’s Walkie Talkie building, as well as its thumb-shaped façade, feels built and branded for the Sky Garden, the shell-centric rooftop incorporating a stunning cloud view with an unexpected cherry on the cake: it’s the only place in London where you don’t have to look at the Walkie Talkie building.
Words by George Somers