Every person and their dog has heard of London’s Sky Garden, located in the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building. It has exploded in popularity and has found itself as one of the top free things to do in London. However, move over Sky Garden, there’s a new kid on the block! Literally! Just 0.1 mile, a 2 minute walk away, is ‘The Garden at 120’, and for now, it’s still relatively unknown!
The Garden at 120
Location: The Garden at 120, 120 Fenchurch St, London EC3M 5BA, UK
We stumbled across The Garden at 120, ironically while walking to Sky Garden. At first we didn’t even realise what it was, what caught our eye was a large ceiling screen up above, displaying various videos from: trees, to water, to a (possibly?) live webcam of Tower Bridge. It was pretty mesmerising and took us a little while to realise what was staring us in the face at ground level!
At first it’s not really obvious what it is. Tucked away in the corner is a small room with an airport style scanner and 2 lifts…no fancy front desk and the signage is very ‘business’ like, in the sense that it looks more like an entrance to an office block rather than an attraction. We even had to Google what it was to find out more!
Just like Sky Garden, The Garden at 120 is completely FREE to visit. One of the biggest differences is that if you visit Sky Garden during popular times, you have to book a time slot in advance. These slots are available from 3 weeks in advance and can fill up quite quickly. At the time of writing, The Garden at 120 does not require tickets, you can simply just turn up.
Sky Garden building from The Garden at 120
The Garden at 120 has a ‘live’ capacity tracker so you are able to see how busy it is. On a Sunday morning, there was no one in line when it opened at 10am and while we were up there, there were only 3 other people!
The Garden at 120 is located on the 15th floor and is completely open air. Opening in 2019 there’ll be a D&D Restaurant on the 14th floor which is said to become one of the biggest rooftop restaurants in London!
The rooftop garden is indeed a garden, with various flowers and plants, my favourite part being the water feature element, gardens have to have a pond after all! There are also several benches to sit and enjoy the view and I liked the fact that the garden was outside (even though it was a little cold and windy during my visit)!
The rooftop is surrounded by glass panels, giving you 360 degree unobstructed views across the London skyline.
You’ll be able to see landmarks such as:
- Tower of London
- Tower Bridge
- The Walkie Talkie building
- The Gherkin
- The London Eye
- The Shard
- The River Thames
I can’t be sure if there are currently any public toilets at The Garden at 120, if there were some, they weren’t obvious and we didn’t find them. This may be different once the restaurant floor is open.
If you are looking for an alternative to the Sky Garden or have missed out on tickets, The Garden at 120 is definitely a good option for free rooftop views of London!
The Garden at 120 taken from Sky Garden
The Garden at 120: Opening Times
The Garden at 120 is open year round.
April – September: 10am – 9pm
October – March: 10am – 6.30pm
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Sky Garden London
Location: Sky Garden, 1 Sky Garden Walk, London, EC3M 8AF
Sky Garden almost double the height of The Garden at 120, with the main level being on the 35th floor. The majority of Sky Garden is inside, with a small outside terrace on the River Thames ‘side’ of the building.
As you walk around the gardens and the observation floors, the windows have stickers pointing out some of the major landmarks that you can see. This is great for tourists or visitors that may be unfamiliar with what the buildings are. You’ll also get a better view of the River Thames from Sky Garden.
There are several options for food and drink at Sky Garden, the most popular being the cafe, which is actually reasonably priced considering its location.
The only downside of Sky Garden is how busy it is, even with the control on numbers. As soon as the outside terrace opened it was hard to even get a spot to see out of the glass. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cool space, I loved the windows and the gardens but it was loud and busy and there was a queue for the toilets (unisex and each cubicle has its own sink and hand dryer which was nice but obviously it takes longer for a cubicle to become free!).
Sky Garden, despite being inside, is naturally ventilated so can actually be a similar temperature to what it is on the outside. During my visit I thought it was warmer than the outside temperature but that could have been because it had cut out the wind.
There is also a dress code at Sky Garden, although during the day I’m not sure exactly how strict it is, we were all wearing jeans and trainers and we weren’t even looked twice at. This may be different during the evenings or in the restaurants. After 6pm there are also age restrictions for the bar and restaurant areas.
Sky Garden Opening Times
The opening times are all over the place so it’s worth checking the website for details. The times that require a booked time slot are as follows:
Monday to Friday: 10am until 6pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11am until 9pm
Time slots are staggered at 15 minute intervals and are meant to last for an hour, although this doesn’t seem to be tracked. Unless you are planning to eat or drink, an hour is more than enough time. Restaurant reservations would obviously allow more time.