Only recently I published a post about London hilltops, number one example of London views that are actually for everyone to enjoy, as they come completely for free. Since I’m a student myself and don’t like to pay £25 for a chance to get a bird eye’s view of London from the Shard, or pay almost £30 for London Eye, I’ve decided to write another post for people like me. People who love to see a city from above, but don’t own a big bag of money to pay for it all (and for everyone else who’s interested obviously).
Last week I visited two such places that come completely for free and are absolutely perfect for feeding my ‘views-from-above’ addiction. The first location is situated only meters away from St Paul’s tube station. I, however, got there from Bank tube station, walking through Poultry which passed on in Cheapside. Funny street names, was my first impression. I strolled by well-known chain shops and coffee shops such as Boots and Costa before arriving at my destination.
One New Change is a modern shopping mall that is conveniently located right across from St Paul’s Cathedral. The mall itself is home to many familiar names like H&M, Mango, as well as to high-end brands such as Swarovski and BOSS. The top floor of One New Change boasts a fancy restaurant and bar, called Madison, which provides you with stunning views of St Paul’s and other familiar places of the London skyline.
‘’Awh, it’s a restaurant… I still need to pay tons for that view’’, I hear you think. Luckily, this is not the case. For the ones on a budget, there’s still a chance to enjoy these stunning London views, as a large part of the roof terrace is open for public, and free to access!
A glass lift takes you up from the ground floor of One New Change to the roof terrace, and St Paul’s dome quickly comes into sight while you ascend for your treat on the sky deck.
While exiting the lift, St Paul’s dome drew me nearer. On the left, the magnificent Shard (Western Europe’s current tallest building) came into view, and when I looked real hard, my eyes caught Big Ben and London Eye in the distance. Even though it was drizzling a bit when I was visiting, I was amazed by the view. The roof terrace of One New Change is one that isn’t well-known yet, so there’s a big chance that you’ve the sky deck completely to yourself.
A few days later I embarked on the tube from Bethnal Green to Monument where I would make my next ‘roof top’ visit at 20 Fenchurch Street. A few weeks in advance I had made a reservation to visit the Sky Garden at http://skygarden.london/, which is necessary, since only a few people at the time are allowed in. I would actually recommend to make a booking approximately two weeks in advance, to make sure that you can make your visit at the time you prefer. Again, it’s absolutely free and there are no booking fees applicable.
Enough about practicalities, let’s discuss the view! After a security check airport-style, I entered a lift that took me up to the 35th floor of the building. When I got off the lift, I was invited by a huge area, completely surrounded by glass, and drawn immediately to the deck outside that offered the best London views.
The river Thames curving right in front of me, the Shard right across from it, London Eye on my right, Tower Bridge on my left… It was almost too much to take in at once. I got a few great shots from the outside area before I headed back in again to look around.
The roof terrace of 20 Fenchurch Street is called Sky Garden for a reason obviously. There are numerous of plants ‘installed’ in the area that are there to make it feel like you’re in a garden. Although I didn’t really get the garden vibe while I was walking around there, it’s always nice to have a bit of green at public spaces like that. I got up the steps to go to the other side of the Sky Garden and enjoyed this majestic view of the City rising up in front of me:
Another option is to take in the magnificent views from the bars and restaurants the Sky Garden is known for. I didn’t make use of these services while visiting, but if you suddenly are on a spending spree, you can always opt to have a drink at the Seafood Bar and Grill or at the Sky Pod bar.
The spectacular views at the Sky Garden exceeded all of my expectations, and I still can’t believe that I didn’t have to spend a single penny to be allowed up. London is expensive, but there are still ample of opportunities for you to enjoy the city for free.
Are you also into bird eye’s view of city’s like me?
Note: all photos in this post are mine.