I love cocktails. I love a roof garden. I’m quite into going to exciting new pop-ups in London. I’m really not very keen on being on Oxford Street in London for any extended period of time. I can go there and run into Primark (the Tottenham Court Road end, not Marble Arch, obviously), grab a few things and pay but after that, I am done. Get me out. Get me away from all of these people and someone, please, force my card back into my purse.
So hearing that John Lewis has set up a pop-up on the top of their Oxford Street store was a blessing in disguise. I can pick up my Primark bits and then escape. Away from all the chaos.
The rooftop is hidden away on the top of John Lewis on Oxford Street. It took me a little bit of searching to get there, not helped by a broken escalator in store. The final staircase that you have to take at the end had been decorated with a shrub pattern which helps you find your way. When you walk out onto the roof, it really is pretty incredible to think that you’re still on Oxford Street.
There are hundreds of plants, a bird feeder wall, sheds and bushes. It has the air of being at a posh garden centre, in a proper English garden out in the countryside or at the Chelsea Flower Show. There are a lot of herbs too, all labelled so you know exactly what you’re looking at. And so you can get ideas to take home.
There are a lot of benches and tables scattered around, but as I went on a hot Saturday afternoon, there weren’t quite enough benches and tables to sit on. We had to perch on the end of a very touchy feely couple’s table before we managed to hunt down our own spot.
One of my big tips is that you can actually reserve your own garden shed on the roof to drink and eat in. Each one is differently themed, from music to travel to the 70s. If you do reserve a shed, you get your own little patch of garden too, surrounded by a white picket fence and a buzzer to have someone come and take your drinks order. A much more civilised way of doing things.
Plus, if you get hungry you can head to Foleys who are currently taking up residency on the roof.
It’s pretty incredible to me that you can be on one of the busiest streets in London without really noticing it. Once you’re on the top of that roof, you can’t hear any of the traffic and noise from below. You really do feel like you’re in a classic British garden somewhere, surrounded by lovely plants. The only way you can really tell that it’s not a real garden is the giveaway AstroTurf rather than the real grass.
One thing I was a little disappointed about is that John Lewis advertise being able to get a spectacular view of London from the roof. I really don’t think you can. Or, you can if you poke your head around a corner and lift it up. And maybe if the planets are aligned in the right way. Or the wind is in the right direction.
I mean, there are a lot of other benefits to drinking on this particular rooftop. The view isn’t one of them. So I don’t really understand why John Lewis had to sell it like that?
One of the things I loved about the cocktail menu is that they all feature things that can be grown in your own garden.
I started with a ginger shandy cocktail. It’s not my usual kinda thing, but I hadn’t had a whisky cocktail in ages. I was quite surprised by how genuinely refreshing it was for something made out of whisky and ginger.
Afterwards, I treated myself to a lovely rosemary and grapefruit gin spritzer. I would have loved to have tried more, but the sun got to me. As a bit of a vampire, being on a roof is something I can only do in short bursts!
And hey, if you don’t fancy going up there for cocktails you could always go up for yoga instead. They’re running special classes early in the morning for a tenner each.
I’ll stick to the cocktails though, thanks.