Vertigo 42 Champagne Bar review: Hope you’ve got a head for heights… and bubbles
The Shard’s viewing platform may have just opened 24 hours earlier, but last weekend I found myself at Vertigo 42 – a champagne bar located on the top floor of Tower 42 (formerly known as the Natwest Tower) in the City of London. The occasion was my mother’s birthday and ahead of the usual posh meal we always have, we decided to surprise her with some champagne with a view. However, I admit the booking process wasn’t always as straightforward as other bar reservations – we phoned up and used our credit card as a guarantee, before signing an email form agreeing to a few T&Cs. Being located in the second tallest skyscraper in the City of London, guests have to go through security precautions, such as getting our bags screened. But do not let this put you off, it’s well worth it.
Tower 42 was opened in 1980 as the headquarters of Natwest’s international division – with the structure actually looking like the Natwest logo from above due to its hexagonal arrangement. Designed by Richard Seifert, it stands tall at 183 metres and was the highest building in the UK until One Canada Square at Canary Wharf opened 10 years later. Until 2009, it laid claim to the title of tallest in the City of London, until the Heron Tower opened. In 1993, the tower was damaged by the IRA Bishopsgate bombing and cost £75million to repair and refurbish.
Tower 42 is located a few minutes walk from Bank tube station and is easy to find – look up if you get lost! As we stepped into the lift, we were whizzed up to the 42nd floor in moments – be prepared for your ears to pop! We were greeted by friendly staff who took our coats and were shown to our reserved table. To the staff’s credit, I honestly believe they placed us at the best table in the whole bar. We were facing west – slightly south – so had a view of the glittering capital. We arrived at 5pm so the sun was just setting and after a clear rain-free day, the sky was spectacular. For the first half hour we barely looked at the menu because we couldn’t take our eyes off the scenery. We could see St Paul’s, the Tate Modern, the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the Monument, the Oxo Tower and the newest addition to the London skyline The Shard. Funnily enough, looking at The Shard from a similar level – of course it’s just slightly taller – it doesn’t actually look as big as it does from below.
The menu includes an extensive list of cocktails, champagnes and wine. As we were celebrating, we opted for a bottle of Brut Gallimard split between the five of us. Our table included a mix of armchairs and stools in front of a long glass table facing the window so we could sip our drinks while gaze at the vista. However, there’s plenty of room to walk around the bar and check out the views from the other sides. If you’re feeling a bit peckish, there is also a bar menu, including salads, sharing platters and snacks.
Overall, I would highly recommend Vertigo 42 as a place to start off – or perhaps end – a special night out. The views are absolutely amazing – try to request a west-facing view if possible. Yes, The Shard may be attracting a lot of media attention right now, but Vertigo 42 shouldn’t be missed. I’m definitely going back.
- Vertigo 42, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, City of London, EC2N 1HQ. Open Mon-Fri daytime 12-4.30pm, Mon-Sat evenings 5pm-11pm. Phone 0207 877 7842 for reservations. Nearest tube: Bank. For more information, visit Vertigo 42’s website.
For other bars with a view in London, read Metro Girl’s blog reviews on Galvin at Windows cocktail bar: Take a ‘French Lover’ on the 28th floor or The Thames isn’t the only thing that’s flowing: Cocktails with a view at the Oxo Tower Bar.
Or if you want to know about another City of London skyscraper, check out the blog post on Inside out: A rare chance to step inside the Lloyd’s Building at Open House or A revolving restaurant and communications hub: History of the BT Tower in Fitzrovia