Few buildings in London’s recent years have been more controversial than the Shard or the Walkie Talkie. Both are love or hate buildings but ones that some of us can’t help but be intrigued by regardless.
My answer in short to which one has the better experience? Well, if you don’t want all the bells and whistles and just want a coffee with a view then the Walkie Talkie is for you.
Though not a fan of the Walkie Talkie’s death-ray beaming structure, I found myself unable to resist booking their free tickets and was so glad I did. I liked the View from the Shard and only regretted not spending more time up there – I can’t resist a good view – but the Walkie Talkie has a character all of its own. I’ll be honest here, a lot of it comes down to the friendly staff but the view really does sell itself.
The other thing I wasn’t expecting was a surprisingly good cafe. Sure, the coffee isn’t the indie flat white that you’ll find in plenty of City/Shoreditch establishments but it does the job, is nicely presented and doesn’t cost the earth. The pain au raisin I had with mine was delicious and Mr Man was really impressed with the early lunch he took in the form of a panini (he can be hard to impress so that is saying something). The huge selection of cakes, sandwiches and muffins are served by friendly Italian guys in stylish ski-gear – as random as the hot water bottles provided on some of the seats but we’ll go with it.
In short – I loved the Walkie Talkie and would highly recommend a visit up it. A poor man’s Shard it is not; it is a site worth a visit in its own. Plus, it has a cool garden and plenty of seating too. You’ll find yourself staying there for longer than you think.
Sky Garden can be found at 20 Fenchurch Street. Tickets are free and can only be booked ahead of time online. Nearest tube is Monument. We paid £13.50 for two flat whites, a panini and a pain au raisin.