During half term we were invited to the Mondrian Hotel for a special Skylanders Academy screening.
The screening itself took just a couple of hours, leaving us with plenty of time to explore some of the sights that London has to offer.
A few weeks ago we took a sightseeing trip along the Thames with City Cruises and during the onboard commentary they mentioned that there was a FREE alternative to The Shard, where you could see London from above – Sky Garden in Fenchurch Street, affectionately know as the Walkie Talkie.
It is important that you book your tickets in advance as they do get snapped up quickly, so we booked for the afternoon of our visit to London which left a couple of hours to explore after we had finished with Skylanders.
The Mondrian Hotel is just across the River Thames from St Paul’s Cathedral so we took the short stroll across the bridge to have a look around.
St Paul’s Cathedral, with its world-famous dome, is an iconic feature of the London skyline and was designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the devastation of the Great Fire of London in 1666.
It has been quite a few years since my last visit and I had forgotten how green it was around the outside of the building.
As a Cathedral I had assumed that entry would be free, but it was £44 for a family ticket to go inside which we decided was too expensive for something the kids were not really interested in seeing, so Hubby and I will return when we visit without them in tow.
We are big fans of the TV series First Dates which is set at the Paternoster Chophouse Restaurant in Warwick Court, just behind St Paul’s, so we couldn’t visit and not pose for a photograph outside.
It was about a 20 minute walk from here to Fenchurch Street to visit Sky Garden. We arrived 15 minutes before our time slot and were surprised by the queues outside to get in, however they were fast-moving and after our bags had been scanned we entered the fast lift to take us up to the 35th floor.
155 metres up, the spectacular Sky Garden offers views across the capital and far beyond, even on a murky October Day.
The famous enlarged glass dome is dedicated to three storeys of exquisitely landscaped public gardens and London’s most exclusive social spaces, including observation decks, an open air terrace, a restaurant, brasserie and cocktail bar.
It is a truly awe-inspiring visit with 360° views of the city and the kids loved seeing what they could spot from the windows.
The landscape designer behind Sky Garden is award-winning landscape architecture practice Gillespies. The designers opted for a series of richly planted terraces for Sky Garden and the planting is dominated by drought resistant Mediterranean and South African species.
It is probably the open air terrace that is the most fascinating part of the building with views over the River Thames, Tower of London, City Hall and the London Eye.
Although the terrace is open air, there is a large glass window that stands about 6ft high in front of you and it is covered above so you are sheltered from the elements so I was happy for the kids to run, dance and enjoy themselves.
The advantage of visiting Sky Garden is that it is free, however, we have visited The Shard and the viewing platform is higher and it has interactive screens and audio to help you understand where to look and what you can see.
You get an hour to enjoy the gardens and view before it is time to return to the ground. As it is a 5 minute walk to Pudding Lane we decided to go and see the Monument to the Great Fire of London too.
I didn’t realise you could go inside the Monument for a small extra charge, but as it was half term the queue was huge so we have added it to our list to do another time.
By now our feet were starting to ache from all the walking so we decided it was time to head back to the car, but with another list of things we want to do next time we visit London.
Where is your favourite place to visit in London?