We had a more leisurely itinerary planned for day 5 after a long previous day in Paris. We took the tube to Monument station and took a short stroll to the “Walkie-Talkie” building, so nicknamed because of its uneven rectangular shape.
On the 35th floor is the Sky Garden, an indoor garden spanning three storeys with a 360 degree view of the city and an open air deck for viewing and photo-taking.
Entry is limited to an hour, just the right amount of time to wander around, and tickets are easy to book online through their website. Best of all, the Sky Garden is open to the public and completely free!
We had booked a ticket online a few weeks in advance so after passing through the metal detector at the entrance, we took the lift up to the 35th floor. At the top, there was a nice bird’s eye view of the Tower of London, where we had visited two days previously, as well as of the prominent buildings marking London’s skyline.
The garden itself was lovely to sit in and enjoy the views, though when we were there, not many flowers were in bloom so there wasn’t much variety or colour.
Having opened not long, the facilities were new and clean with a few restaurants for those choosing to dine in. It’s worth booking a visit to the Sky Garden if you have an hour or two to spare in the itinerary.
A few minutes’ walk from the Sky Garden is the Monument, a column-like tower built to commemorate the 1666 Great Fire of London. For the fit and non-claustrophobic, 311 narrow and winding steps can be climbed to reach the top of the monument.
From Monument Station, we caught the tube to Knightsbridge, a district known for its shopping and for being where the iconic Harrods is located. Even for not-so-keen shoppers, Harrods is quite a marvel not only in its sometimes extravagantly themed and decorated halls, but in the fact that it has 330 departments offering anything from specific varieties of food and clothing to whole departments devoted solely to stationery, luggage and furniture.
We spent the majority of our time prowling the magnificent food halls and the gift stores upstairs for some souvenirs.
After that, we headed to the Harvey Nichols close by, not for shopping but for lunch. We took the lift up to the fifth floor, which was the food floor – an upscaled equivalent of a food court. Tucked away in the corner is Burger & Lobster. The restaurant only had three items on the menu, all priced at 20 pounds (prices and items may have changed since).
We ordered the undercurrent (a refreshing guava and lime drink), a steamed lobster, a steamed and grilled lobster and a beef burger, all the mains accompanied by salad and chips. The meal was generous and tasty with the lobster cooked perfectly and the chunky beef patty pink and extremely juicy.
Having filled our bellies, we headed back to Russell Square to visit the British Museum. It has an extensive collection from all over the world of historically and culturally significant artefacts, carvings and other objects such as jewellery and vases.
Spread over several floors, we found the museum’s exhibits to be diverse and interesting. We visited a selection of the recommended items on display including the Rosetta Stone, Easter Island, and Wedgwood inspired Roman vase.
With lots to see, the museum is another good option for the itinerary – and at no cost as entry is free.
It was nice to enjoy a leisurely day with pleasant weather throughout. The next day we depart on a day tour to Windsor Castle, the Roman Baths and the all-mysterious Stonehenge.