Blog Archives

It’s what’s inside what counts! Visiting the Sky Garden at the ‘Walkie Talkie’

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

The Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street offers 360 degree views of London

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

The 35th floor features large windows offering expansive views over the River Thames

20 Fenchurch Street, aka as The Walkie Talkie, is one of London’s most controversial buildings. During construction, it hit the headlines in summer 2013 after the building ended up channelling the sun’s rays into a powerful beam, which singed mats and melted cars parked on the streets below (this has since been rectified!). While most of the building is dedicated to offices, the top floors feature a garden, a bar and two restaurants. Since opening in January 2015, the restaurants and bars have been mostly well received, but the structure itself hasn’t been embraced by most Londoners as a prominent piece of the skyline. In September 2015, it was awarded the Carbuncle Cup for being the worst new building in the UK.

Designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, 20 Fenchurch Street stands tall at 160 metres. It’s the fifth tallest building in the City of London so shorter than the nearby 30 St Mary Axe, aka The Gherkin (180 metres), Tower 42 (183 metres) and 122 Leadenhall Street, aka The Cheesegrater (225 metres). But what is lacks in height, it more than makes up for width wise with its decidedly ‘top heavy’ design. The tower was controversial from the planning stages, with many concerned how the building would impact on the City’s skyline and views of iconic architecture such as St Paul’s Cathedral. The designs were granted permission because it promised a free public garden on the top.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Enjoy views of the River and The Shard

Personally, I’m not a fan of the building architecturally. Although when I paid a visit, I did enjoy the inside of it. Alongside the other skyscrapers of the City, the Walkie Talkie is just too big and dominates the view. However, going inside, you can’t deny there’s a great vista. There’s two ways of getting up to the top of the building – either book a table at the Darwin Brasserie, Fenchurch restaurant or Sky Pod bar or apply for a free slot to visit the Sky Garden.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

20 Fenchurch Street stands tall at 160 metres

Arriving at the base of the Walkie Talkie, there is the airport security-style scanners that is typical in most skyscrapers. Visitors to the Sky Garden may need to queue a bit, although diners with reservations are able to bypass the queue to the lift. Exiting the lift on the 35th floor, you are greeted by huge windows on the façade of the building, with a balcony overlooking the Thames and The Shard across the river the dominant view. The Sky Pod bar is open for walk ups and serves cocktails and light snacks.

Turning north, you are faced with east and western terraces of garden spanning three storeys. In the middle are the two restaurants – Darwin and Fenchurch – in boxes, which have been compared by some to Portakabins. The horticultural display features Mediterranean and South African plants, giving a greenhouse feel. On the day I visited it was sunny, but hazy so the views were pretty good. However, the position of the sun made it difficult to take photos due to the reflection on the glass. Despite there being up to 200 people in the Sky Garden at a time, the huge expansive space means it doesn’t feel too crowded – except on the balcony where there were security guards controlling numbers. There’s plenty of seating both near the bar and on the terraces so you can sit amidst the greenery and enjoy a spot of nature in the middle of the city.

  • Sky Garden is open from Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Weekends 11am-9pm. Located on the 35th floor at 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London, EC3M 3BY. Nearest station: Fenchurch Street or Monument. To book a free slot, register on the Skygarden website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Nice view! Looking east towards the Tower Of London and Docklands

For a review of the Darwin Brasserie in the Sky Garden, click here.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Darwin Brasserie review: The best of British with a view at the ‘Walkie Talkie’

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Smoked Haddock, Jersey Royals and Beurre Blanc at the Darwin Brasserie at the Sky Garden

I love eating and drinking with a view. Like others, I have to admit I wasn’t quite sure about the 20 Fenchurch Street skyscraper – aka ‘the Walkie Talkie’ – when it was being built. However, with the huge cranes gone from the top, the building doesn’t look quite so walkie talkie like and it’s starting to blend in to the City’s skyline. As many have heard, there is free access to the public garden, although you have to register for a time slot on the website in advance. There are a total of three eating and drinking venues – the Sky Pod Bar, the Darwin Brasserie and Fenchurch (a seafood bar and grill).

I recently booked a weekday late lunch spot for two at the Darwin Brasserie – the name obviously inspired by the plant life in the Sky Garden. With a reservation at one of the restaurants, we were fortunately able to bypass the queue for the public garden and after going through security, were whisked up to Level 35, where the Sky Pod Bar and outdoor balcony is located. To access the Darwin, we wove our way up the stairs and plants to the next level. Darwin is located in a large box-like unit which juts out over the garden with views overlooking the Sky Garden, the Thames and the City.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Meat feast: Goodwood Estate Pork Belly and ‘bubble & squeak’ roasted spring vegetables

We arrived at the end of a busy lunch period and had to wait about 5-10 minutes at the bar for our table which wasn’t an issue. We were then shown to a table for two – one seated in standalone chair and the other on a comfy bench. Unfortunately we weren’t by the window so didn’t get to enjoy the views, but planned to walk around the Sky Garden afterwards so that wasn’t a huge problem. Our waiter was very friendly and answered all the questions we had. To start with I ordered a glass of Prosecco which was light and refreshing, while our water glasses were topped up throughout our meal.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

The Brasserie is located in a box-like structure overhanging the Sky Garden

I knew I didn’t have the appetite for a three-course meal so forewent the amazing choice of starters to go straight for a main, with the plan to eat dessert later. I ordered the Smoked haddock with Jersey Royal potatoes, which came served with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce (£16.50). The dish was very well presented and was absolutely delicious. The fish was tender and smooth with the accompanying egg, sauce and vegetables really complementing it. Thanks to a combination of my hunger and the taste, I ended up devouring the whole thing pretty rapidly, to the amusement of my fellow diner. My companion ordered the Goodwood Estate Pork Belly with ‘bubble and squeak’ roasted spring vegetables (£17.50), which she said was really good and cooked perfectly. To accompany our dishes we also ordered some Steamed Spinach (£5), which was, again, lovely.

The dessert menu had some good old English classics such as Lemon Tart, Knickerbocker Glory and Rhubarb Crumble. However, I was up for a chocolate fix so ordered the Chocolate Pavé and Banana and Chocolate Ice Cream. While it was certainly sweet and chocolatey, the ice cream balanced it out so it wasn’t too sickly. The presentation was particularly fabulous with some edible golf leaf on top, but I didn’t spend too long admiring it before tucking in.

Overall, the food, service and views were brilliant. I found the prices reasonable for such a high quality of food. The restaurant’s interiors of natural-influenced contemporary design proved for a relaxing setting. Then of course, you have the added bonus of being able to enjoy the views and the scent of the Sky Garden following your meal. I will definitely be returning.

  • Darwin Brasserie, Level 36, Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London, EC3M 3BY. Nearest station: Fenchurch Street or Monument. For more information and booking, visit the Sky Garden website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Sweet treat: Chocolate Pavé and Banana and Chocolate Ice Cream

For a review on a visit to the Sky Garden, click here.

For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

For reviews of other restaurants in London’s skyscrapers, check out SushiSamba or Duck & Waffle at the Heron Tower.

Darwin Brasserie on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Duck & Waffle review: A pretty fabulous brunch on the 40th floor

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Signature dish: Crispy Leg Confit served on a Waffle, topped with Fried Duck Egg and Mustard Maple Syrup

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Hotspot: Since opening in summer 2012, Duck & Waffle has been a popular eating venue

Since opening in summer 2012, Duck & Waffle has been one of the hottest dining spots in town. Standing out with its 40th floor views of the city and its signature synonymous dish, the restaurant has backed up its unique selling points with a stellar menu. I have wanted to go for some time, but unsurprisingly, with a long waiting list, I hadn’t quite got round to booking a table. Earlier this year, when I heard one of my best friends was visiting from South Korea, we decided to treat ourselves to a Saturday brunch at the venue and booked our table two months in advance.

I had already dined at D&W’s sister restaurant SushiSamba downstairs five months earlier, so was well aware of the stunning views of the City of London and beyond. However, views aside, D&W would be providing a totally different culinary experience. Overseen by award-winning Executive Chef Daniel Doherty (who is quite the avid Tweeter and tweeted me after my meal), the menu is inspired by British and European cuisine and including breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Going Colombian: Organic Eggs with Avocado served on Toast, with Smoked Salmon

Despite having been to SushiSamba, for some reason the high-speed lift was faster than I remembered as it whizzed up to the 40th floor. After checking in with the hostess, I was thrilled to see our table for two was in the corner of the dining room so we had windows to the left and back of my seat. As I had already dined in the building before, I decided to let my friend have the 180° view while I had my back to the window.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Lofty: A view of The Gherkin from the entrance of Duck & Waffle

Although lunch options were available at the time of our seating, my friend and I were determined on brunching. While the food menu had too many delicious things to decide on quickly, we started our session with mimosas. My friend – a carnivore – decided it would be wrong to not order the signature dish – Crispy Leg Confit served on a Waffle, topped with Fried Duck Egg and Mustard Maple Syrup. As I am a pescatarian, I decided on a twist on an old favourite – Organic Colombian Eggs with Avocado served on Toast, paying a supplement to add Smoked Salmon. The added herbs and vegetables gave a refreshing twist to the usual eggs on toast. The eggs were perfectly fluffy and light and the bread not too over-toasted (a pet hate of mine, so many brunch places love to make their toast rock hard to cut!). My friend absolutely loved the Duck and Waffle and said the fusion of savoury and sweet worked really well.

Although my friend was stuffed after her evidently more filling dish, I knew I had to find some room in my stomach for the absolutely divine dessert menu. I ordered the Bananas Brûlée Belgian Waffle served with Homemade Nutella, Vanilla Ice Cream and Peanut Crunch. It was absolutely heavenly, I’m a huge fan of waffles, Nutella, ice cream and peanuts in general, so the combination of them all was dessert heaven for me. Admittedly after having just eating eggs and toast, it was a bit of a challenge to finish, but fortunately my friend gallantly offered to help me out.

Overall, all of our dishes were absolutely delicious. The service was fast, friendly and informative and I was grateful they had given us such prime seating. At around £76 for our whole meal, including service, is perhaps a bit steeper than I would usually spend on brunch, but the experience made it worth while. I noticed a lot of couples, friends and families were there for special occasions, such as birthdays and engagements, so is a nice venue to treat yourself. I will be back… am particularly curious about visiting at 3am as the restaurant is open 24 hours a day!

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Sweet tooth: Bananas Brûlée Belgian Waffle served with Homemade Nutella, Vanilla Ice Cream and Peanut Crunch

  • Duck & Waffle, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information and booking, visit the Duck & Waffle website.

For Metro Girl’s review of Duck & Waffle’s sister restaurant downstairs, SushiSamba, click here.

To read more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.

Duck & Waffle on Urbanspoon

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Silent Disco at View From The Shard: Shaking your booty at 800ft

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Best view in London – looking at Tower Bridge and Docklands from the 72nd floor of The Shard

Silent Discos have been growing steadily in popularity in recent years. To an outsider, they admittedly do look rather bizarre to see people singing and dancing to no audible music. I’ve been to a festival with a Silent Disco before which I didn’t partake in and it was quite weird to watch the participants and trying to guess which song they were listening to. I have long wanted to go up The Shard since I watched the inauguration laser light show of the building back in July 2012, but had held off due to the ticket price. However, when I heard there was an event taking place – a Silent Disco – I leaped at the chance to buy tickets, so finally visited this week.

In conjunction with Time Out, The View From The Shard – the viewing platforms on the 69th and 72nd floor – are hosting Silent Discos on selected dates monthly. Priced at £37.50, tickets include access to the floors over four hours and a pair of wireless headphones, which can pick up three different DJs and their mixes, depending on your taste. Upon arrival at reception, we put our coats in the cloakroom and were whizzed up to the 68th floor via two lifts, with a break halfway up the building. I had totally forgotten from the publicity at the time of The View From The Shard’s opening that the toilets have floor-to-ceiling windows with views over the City of London. I must admit I felt a sort of stage fright about using the facilities against a window – something I am sure many visitors feel a bit apprehensive about – until you remind yourself no one can see you at that height.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Listen to the blue, green or red DJs through wireless headphones

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Stage fright? The toilets have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the City

The main focus of the action was on the enclosed 69th floor viewing gallery. The three DJs were linked to three colours blue, green or red, so you could switch your wireless headphones to which one you wanted to listen to. Personally, I was a Team Blue girl – listening to dance anthems and old school soul and hip-hop, but did flirt with Team Green often throughout the evening. Whatever your music taste, there was definitely something for everyone. The clientele was a mix of 20 and 30somethings, mostly groups of friends, but some couples. There were several bars dotted around, with themed cocktails and champagne besides the usual spirits, wines and beers. We opted for £7 Mile High Cocktails (Vodka, Triple Sec, cranberry, lime topped with sparkling water and garnished with orange), which was refreshing and tasty. When I first arrived, I was a bit distracted by the view as it was my first time at The Shard. However, after taking in the sights at the 69th and open air platform on level 72 (which was rather freezing I must admit!), I was ready to ‘disco’. My apprehension about dancing to music through headphones soon vanished and soon my friend and I were singing along and dancing our feet off to the familiar tracks.

Music, dancing and drinking aside, the event is also an opportunity to enjoy the stunning 360 degree views of London at a height of up to 800ft, which are of course available all year round. The 69th floor includes interactive touchscreen telescopes so you can zoom in to your favourite landmarks. During the disco, we ended up finding a spot overlooking Tower Bridge and St Paul’s – a unique view for the average London dancefloor! Despite being at such a heady height, I must admit it didn’t actually feel as high as I expected. I thought the streets below would be even tinier, but you could easily identify buses, etc. Overall, my friend and I had a really good night out. There was a great atmosphere, really fun and friendly. The combination of dancing, great music, cocktails and the best view in London made for a unique and entertaining night out.  Get tickets if you can!

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

View of the West End, London Eye and River Thames

  • The View From The Shard. Silent Disco tickets £37.50, available through Time Out London. The View From The Shard, Joiner Street, SE1 9SP. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information and booking, visit The View From The Shard website.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

SushiSamba London review: A delicious, unique culinary experience with views to die for

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Fusion: Wagyu Gyoza – LEFT – (kabocha purée, sesame and su-shoyu dipping sauce), Salmon Anticucho – FRONT RIGHT – (Peruvian skewers with salmon, orange miso and peruvian dark chocolate) and Pork Ribs (with barbecue miso and pickled yuzu apple) – BACK RIGHT

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

SushiSamba is located on the 38th and 39th floor of the Heron Tower

In 2012, SushiSamba finally made its long-awaited arrival in London. Situated towards the top of the Heron Tower in the City of London, the restaurant is a welcome and unique addition to the city’s dining scene, with its fusion of Brazilian, Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. Like many women of my age, I first heard of SushiSamba on an episode of seminal TV show Sex And The City when the New York venue featured in a scene. I remember admiring the venue and hoping to visit one day. While I’ve never got round to visiting SushiSamba on my New York trips, I did enjoy a meal at the Las Vegas branch at the Palazzo last October and was enthralled (read Metro Girl’s review of Vegas and its SushiSamba here.

This month, I finally got round to booking a table at SushiSamba London. Over a year after it opened, SushiSamba is still hugely popular so you need to book far in advance for peak times. I booked a table for five (four weeks in advance) to celebrate my mother’s birthday, opting for a Sunday lunchtime slot. One thing that sets the London branch apart from its international ‘sisters’ are the stunning views from the 38th and 39th floors from the Heron Tower on Bishopsgate.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Rock Shrimp Tempura – snap pea julienne, spicy mayonnaise, black truffle vinaigrette

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Vista: The view across East London (left) and Docklands (right)

Upon arrival at the entrance to the Heron Tower, we were shown to the lift, where we were whizzed up in moments to the 38th floor – be ready for your ears to pop! Before reaching the restaurant, we passed through the bar area, featuring one of SushiSamba’s three kitchens, seats and tables on both the 38th and 39th floor atrium with views looking over the City of London looking west over the capital. Upon entering the dining room, we were shown to a semi-booth facing outwards with views over East London, including the Olympic Stadium.

To start, we spent ages perusing the extensive cocktail, wine and sake list. There are some imaginative cocktails, averaging around £12-£13 each, with bottles on the wine list starting from £26. We opted for a bottle of El Muro Macabeo, a really lovely, fruity Spanish white featuring peach, apple and citrus.

SushiSamba’s food menu is quite unique – there are three separate kitchens, with many of the dishes being served in smaller ‘tapas’ style servings, or some large plates for those who want to keep their meal to themselves. Fortunately, my party were up for a culinary adventure and decided to order a variety of dishes from the ‘Small Plates’, ‘Robata’ and ‘Aperitivos’ sections of the menu. One of my particular favourites was the Rock Shrimp Tempura served with snap pea julienne, spicy mayonnaise, black truffle vinaigrette. SushiSamba’s version of Calamari – Chicarron De Calamar – was totally sumptuous. The batter was thinner than usual, with less oil, leaving the flavour of the squid coming through, fusing nicely with the fried plantain, tomatoes, onion, mint and tamarind.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Chicarron De Calamar – squid with fried plantain, tomatoes, onion, mint and tamarind

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Sweet tooth: Chocolate Banana Cake with maple butter, plantain chip and vanilla rum ice cream

The Peruvian kebabs were also very popular amongst my party. The salmon, in particular, was cooked in a way I had never had before, with orange miso and peruvian dark chocolate giving a unique flavour sensation from the fusion of savoury and sweet. Despite the volume of food we had, we weren’t left with that horrible ‘stuffed’ feeling, but rather content. Our party was unanimous in our praise of the unique combinations of dishes, each rich in flavour in their own individual way. Despite the variety of plates, they all complemented each other well. I’ve eaten in some of London’s best restaurants over the years, but personally, I would consider SushiSamba one of my new favourites.

Finally to finish, we ended up sharing Chocolate Banana Cake, served with maple butter, plantain chip and vanilla rum ice cream – a delicious, but light pudding providing a perfect end to an amazing lunch. Overall, my party were unanimous that it was one of the best dining experiences we had had in London. The combination of views, food and service made it an enjoyable and relaxing culinary adventure. While admittedly it cost a bit more than a usual meal out, it’s the perfect location for a special occasion.

  • SushiSamba London, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY. Tel: 0203 640 7330. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information and booking, visit the SushiSamba London website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

One of the outdoor terraces overlooks the neighbouring Gherkin

For a review of SushiSamba’s sister restaurant upstairs Duck & Waffle, click here.

For a list of all Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.

Click to add a blog post for Sushi Samba on Zomato

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

History of the BT Tower in Fitzrovia | A revolving restaurant and communications hub

The story behind one of London’s iconic landmarks.

BT Tower © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Lofty: The BT Tower in Fitzrovia stands tall at 581ft, with the aerials bringing it to 620ft

It’s a dominant symbol on the London skyline, yet many city dwellers don’t quite have the same affection for the BT Tower as other lofty landmarks. Maybe this is because most of us haven’t had the opportunity to have a shared history with the building because it’s been closed to the public for over three decades. Many visitors to the capital may be surprised to know the building has been hovering over the streets of Fitzrovia since the 1960s and is a Grade II-listed monument.

Originally commissioned by the GPO (General Post Office) and designed by Eric Bedford (1909-2001) and GR Yeats, the tower’s main function was to carry telecommunication signals from London to across the country. Although construction began before the Millbank Tower (387ft), the latter was erected quicker and was briefly the tallest building in London until the BT Tower was completed in 1964. At 581ft high, it reigned supreme as the tallest in London until Tower 42 was built in the City of London in 1980. Opened by the then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson (1916-1995) in October 1965, the £2.5million BT Tower included 37 floors and two elevators. Seven months after the official opening, the building was open to the public with quite a variety of amusements to keep them occupied in May 1966.

Bt Tower © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

The BT Tower looms over bustling Fitzrovia

BT Tower © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

The Tower is still used by TV and satellite companies, as well as to monitor air quality

One such attraction was the Top of the Tower revolving restaurant. When I was a child growing up in London in the Eighties, I remember my parents talking about the restaurant on the 34th floor, which was sadly closed in 1980 due to terrorism fears. In 1971, an IRA bomb exploded in the men’s toilets at the restaurant. I remember for years not realising it had actually closed and in my young girl’s mind, fantasising about hanging on to my table for dear life as the restaurant whizzed around at speed. Actually it was a gentle revolution every 22 minutes. Also towards the top of the building were public viewing galleries and a gift shop. However, a year after Top of the Tower closed, public access was also halted.

Of course, while telecommunications have changed drastically over the past 30 years, the BT Tower is still used by TV and satellite companies, as well as to monitor air quality. Since 2009, a 360 degree LED display has been wrapped around the Tower at the 36th and 37th floors projecting messages and the BT logo.

Although we are spoiled for choice when it comes to seeing London from a height – most recently with The Shard and The Orbit at the Olympic Park, I believe there would be demand and many willing, paying customers who would love the chance to eat in the BT Tower’s revolving restaurant again. While this appears unlikely to happen at the moment, who knows what the future will hold…

  • BT Tower, 60 Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 4JZ. Nearest stations: Warren Street or Goodge Street.

Monument view St Paul's BT Tower © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Dwarfing the great dome: The BT Tower stands over 200 feet higher than London’s previous tallest building St Paul’s Cathedral (as seen from The Monument)

For Metro Girl’s other blog posts on London’s tallest buildings, read about Tower 42, the Lloyd’s Building, the inauguration of The Shard laser or Galvin at Windows at the Hilton.

For more of Metro Girl’s history blog posts, click here.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Vertigo 42 Champagne Bar review: Hope you’ve got a head for heights… and bubbles

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

What a view! The stunning vista from Vertigo 42 in Tower 42

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Tower 42 stands tall at 183 metres

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.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

The Shard (left) doesn’t look so big from up here, or gaze down on St Paul’s (right)

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.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Tower 42 (top left) is the 2nd tallent building in the City of London after the Heron Tower and is 3 metres taller than The Gherkin

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 12pm-4.30pm, Mon-Sat evenings 5pm-11pm. Phone 0207 877 7842 for reservations. Nearest stations: Bank or Monument. For more information, visit Vertigo 42’s website.

Inside out | A rare chance to step inside the Lloyd’s Building at Open House London

The Shard inauguration laser light show – gallery