A wise* man once said: “I’d rather live in a cave with a view of a palace than live in a palace with a view of a cave.” In other words, better to be in an ugly building than looking at one.
20 Fenchurch street – also known as The Walkie Talkie for its resemblance to the clumsy handheld communications device – is a famously ugly building. In fact, it is so ugly that in September of this year it was awarded the 2015 Carbuncle Cup, making it (to some extent officially) the ugliest building in the UK, with one judge calling it “a gratuitous glass gargoyle graffitied onto the skyline of London”.
With this in mind, I decided that it must be the ideal spot in the city for dinner with a view, and booked me and the boyfriend in for a Friday night.
(A note on reservations: when we initially booked (three weeks in advance, no less), the best available slot was at 9.30pm. But reservations can be cancelled free of charge up to 48 hours before your due in – and it seems that people do cancel, because on the Wednesday I was able to move our reservation to the perfect time of 8pm. So don’t be afraid to hedge your bets last minute.)
Anyway, of the two restaurants (Darwin and Fenchurch), I chose Darwin for the simple reason that it is cheaper. This turned out to be a good decision not only for the purse strings but because – bizarrely – it also occupies the space with the better views. By quite a long way. We were also lucky to have a table just next to the window. Perhaps not ideal for anyone with vertigo, but otherwise very impressive.
The food, wine and service were all great. But if I’m honest this wasn’t the main attraction. The view – obviously – stole the show.
We particularly enjoyed the freedom to roam around the Sky Garden with a glass of wine afterwards. The Sky Garden has – surprise surprise – also received it’s fair share of criticism for such things as being “like an airport lounge” and not like a garden. While I concede that this is true, I for one rather like airports. And music. And wine. And panoramic views of London that don’t feature the Walkie Talkie.
And so I ended the night a happy – and slightly tipsy – bunny with every intention of revisiting during the day (and perhaps at sunset) to see the city in another new light.
*This was Karl Pilkington of An Idiot Abroad.