The distinctive 160m (525 ft) skyscraper in the City of London commonly known as the Walkie Talkie, but officially called 20 Fenchurch Street, features a public park on its top three floors offering brilliant views over London.
The 37-storey building (34 floors plus the three-storey Sky Garden) was designed by Rafael Viñoy and features a unique top-heavy design and a concave face on its southern side.
On sunny days the building acts as a concave mirror, focussing light on to Eastcheap to the south of the building. Temperatures caused by the reflected light have been recorded at 91–117ºC (196–243ºF) and have been strong enough to damage parked cars and fry an egg with the media calling the building the Fryscraper and the Walkie-Scorchie.
The Sky Garden is designed as a public park and was one of the key features in securing planning approval for the building, and although you could hardly call it a park or even public (considering the access restrictions) it does offer brilliant views over the city and even better, admission to the Sky Garden is free.
The Sky Garden is more like an airport terminal with a view than an actual garden. Of course, there are some plants up here (mostly ferns, grasses and succulents) but the focus is more on the bars and restaurants and the architecture is more Stansted than Kew Gardens.
As far as the bars and restaurants are concerned, it is the cheaper ones that have the best view. While the more expensive restaurants are higher-up, they are also farther from the windows.
Although it is free to visit, you need to book a ticket online in advance to guarantee that you are able to visit. Tickets are released every Monday for up to a week in advance and they are often booked out. Your ticket gives you up to 60 minutes in the Sky Garden.
If you were unable to book a free ticket in advance – for instance if heard about the Sky Garden only just prior to visiting London – then you may still be able to visit as there is limited space for walk-in visitors with access available Mon–Fri 10am–11.30am and 2pm–4.30pm subject to availability.
The Sky Pod Bar (the cheaper of the bars and restaurants) also has its own policy of accepting walk-in guests which is a good option if you were too late for the pre-booked tickets and missed out on the standard walk-in access. Sky Pod Bar walk-in guests are welcomed Mon–Fri 7am–10am and 6.15pm onwards, Sat 8am–11am and 9.15pm–12.45am, Sun 8am–11am and 9.15pm–10.30pm.
Access to the Sky Garden is on Philpot Lane at the southwest corner of the building.