Hidden London: The Roof Gardens
How could I have missed this out? Mainly because although I used to go there every Sunday night for years when it was cheap and fun, it was subsequently taken over by Richard Branson and adopted such a complicated and pricey door policy that it fell off my radar. Located one hundred feet above Kensington High Street, The Roof Gardens used to be on the top of Derry and Tom’s department store, which opened in 1933. Unlike other roof gardens, this has had decades to grow in and feel entirely separate from the world below. There are three themed gardens with over 70 full size trees, a flowing stream stocked with fish and the resident flamingoes Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks.
The Roof Gardens employs over 100 staff. The entire floor below is needed for soil to keep the trees rooted. I’ve been here at Christmas when they’ve wheeled the grand piano on the snowy lawn for carols, but now getting in is a typically complex London affair; on some nights it’s a private club, on others a restaurant, a bar or closed for private events, so it’s no longer a place where you can just drop in. However, with a little perseverance (and a fat wallet) you can be in the country above the centre of the city. Click on each picture for a panoramic view.