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Best rooftop bars in London: A definitive guide to the best summer drinking spots

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Megan Murray
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Looking for the best rooftop bars in London? You’ve come to the right place…

When the clock strikes 5pm in those summer months, office workers all over the city make a communal mad dash to get to the best rooftop bars in London.

What could be more enjoyable than spending an evening looking out over unparalleled views across the capital with a cocktail in hand? 

Catching some rays, admiring the sights and enjoying the plethora of street food and entertainment that can be found atop many of the sky-high bars and restaurants dotted around the city, it seems the only way is up for switched-on Londoners.

To help you get ready for your hit of high-rise frolics and reach that vitamin D quota, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite rooftop bars in London for when the weather eventually bucks up its ideas. 

Cheers!

Spirit of Summer Terraces, Radio Rooftop Bar, Strand 

Picture of a blue bartop, with plants and a Bombay Sapphire cocktail.

Lounge around on stylish outdoor furniture and enjoy the sights of Tower Bridge, the Shard and St Paul’s from the 10th floor of the ME London Hotel. History fans will be interested to hear that the venue’s name is a nod to the building’s heritage, with the first radio broadcast taking place from there in 1922. This year the roof will play host to two different pop-ups: a Mexican Hacienda and an English Botanical Garden - something to satisfy every drinker. 

Both cabanas offer unique cocktails and food menus. Punters can choose to plump for an quaint country garden experience while sipping on Bombay Sapphire Gin blends while those with a taste for Latin America can expect cacti and Patron Tequila drink combinations. 

Radio Rooftop Bar is open all year round.

Savage Garden, City 

Savage Garden London

Savage Garden is transforming part of its rooftop space into a Californian Winery, straight out of Napa Valley.

Opening on 19 April, the pop-up will give Londoners a taste of The Golden State, with a menu full of Californian wines to tickle the tastebuds. There will also be Californian-inspired morsels available throughout the day to enjoy alongside the new cocktails and wines on offer.

Come summer time, picnics will be available for guests to pre-order to enjoy whilst watching the sun set over the London skyline. Sounds like perfection, right?

Aqua Nueva, Soho

Aqua Nueva

Contemporary Spanish tapas venue, Aqua Nueva, has a gorgeous rooftop in addition to its low-lit indoor bar and restaurant. The chic but relaxed space, which looks out to the London Eye, is a wonderfully informal spot to while away an afternoon.

We recommend trying one of the imaginative cocktails, like the sweet escape with Pampero Blanco rum, Chambord, peach liqueur, bergamot, passion fruit liqueur, vanilla, and snacking on the restaurant’s award-winning black seafood and aioli croquetas.

Duck and Waffle, Bishopsgate 

Duck and Waffle, London

Duck and Waffle 

What we love about this 40-storey skyscraper bar – along with almost everything, of course – is the city style opening times. They welcome guests for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks 24/7.

One of the best places for sunset drinks in the capital, reservations are available in the bar and booking in advance is highly recommended.

Duck and Waffle is not open air and therefore open all year round. 

The Rooftop Cafe at The Exchange, London Bridge

Looking for an intimate tête-à-tête? You’ll be hard-pushed on London’s in-demand rooftop terraces, unless you book a table at The Rooftop Cafe at The Exchange.

This London Bridge cafe should do just as good a job at dishing up views to go with seasonal, straightforward food on the daily-changing menu which has an emphasis on sustainability.   

After dinner, you can wander out onto the terrace, making this a bit of a South London sanctuary.

The Rooftop Cafe is open all year round. 

Frank’s Cafe, Peckham

Franks Cafe, Peckham

Frank’s Cafe

If you have your fingers on the pulse of London, you’re probably fully aware of Frank’s Cafe on the top of a Peckham multi-storey car park. 

Now in it’s tenth year, Frank’s provides a classic drinks offering for the thousands of visitors to the rooftop each summer, including beers, wines, and cocktails. The restaurant is open every day all summer long, including brunch service on the weekends.

Many people are blissfully unaware of the other functions performed by this prime South East rooftop spot, Bold Tendencies Car Park. The space also acts as an arts hub, meaning there’s likely to be even more cool cats flocking here once the bar opens again, usually in June. 

Frank’s Cafe is not yet open for summer, but you can check the website for updates.

Dalston Roof Park, Dalston 

Dalston rooftop garden

Dalston Roof Park

Described as an urban utopia on top of four floors, this is the best park on a roof a girl could hope to visit. Nestled between Hackney’s Victorian buildings, its amazing views across the East London skyline are a huge draw, as is the infectious community spirit. 

The garden began as a collection of allotments cared for by a group of local volunteer gardeners and the organisers still actively encourage young people to engage in the garden and events, asking for budding gardeners, photographers, painters and DJ’s to get in touch. 

So either pull up a plastic chair or find a nice grassy spot to relax on – it’s perfect for groups of friends looking for a fun evening in the sunshine.

The bar plays host to a range of free music, movie and lifestyle events throughout the summer - see their Facebook page for listings.

Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, Southbank 

Queen Elizabeth rooftop bar, Southbank

Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden

Soak up some of the best riverside views in the capital in the beautifully botanical roof garden atop of the Southbank Cente. As enticing for lunch as it is after-work drinks, the award-winning space is kept pretty by volunteer gardeners who keep it topped up with fruit trees and wild flowers. 

It was originally created in partnership with the Eden Project in 2011, to celebrate of the Festival of Britain’s 60th anniversary, and has been one of London’s best kept secrets ever since. Here, you’re treated to the best of both worlds - a country garden overlooking the vibrant London skyline.

The rooftop garden is currently pegged to re-open in summer 2019, but you can keep an eye on the website for more details. 

Bird of Smithfield, City of London  

Bird of Smithfields

Bird of Smithfield

If you’re a sucker for London’s gorgeous Georgian architecture, you’ll love the 19th century, five-story townhouse that Bird of Smithfield has made its home. Inside you’ll fine two chic, sophisticated-style bars and an award-winning food menu, but it’s what’s upstairs, above the rooftops that we’re more interested in this summer.

Brightly coloured, mismatched furniture and strings of fairy lights decorate the roof garden, which feels like a hidden gem, in the middle of one of the busiest cities on Earth. 

The rooftop bar is open all year round, although outside service may be limited in the winter months. 

The Boundary, Shoreditch

The Boundary Shoreditch

The rooftop bar, atop of this Redchurch Street boutique hotel, is no slave to the temperamental British summer. The Victorian warehouse building caters for its guests daily, from noon all year round, calling time on open-air drinks at 11pm. 

The menu changes seasonally, serving grilled meats and fish, alongside fresh and simple salads and southern French delicacies. For those looking to snack, fabulous olives, tapenade, and charcuterie should hit the spot, all washed down with an ice-cold Provencal rose.

The Boundary Project is open all year round.

Queen of Hoxton, Shoreditch 

Queen of Hoxton

What it lacks in greenery, Shoreditch more than makes up for in roof terraces. The Queen of Hoxton does a playful, beachy take, with barbecues and decent DJs. 

The concept of the open air space changes seasonally, which increases it fun-factor tenfold. This summer is transforming into a Latin American inspired drinking hole, with theme ‘Las Mexicanas’. Expect Donald Trump piñatas and edible insects - makes a change to the standard wasabi peas bar snack.

Queen of Hoxton’s rooftop is open all year round, from 4-10pm. 

Coq d’Argent, Bank

Coq d'Argent

Coq d’Argent

Unwind with City suits at the peak of the gothic-looking No.1 Poultry building, which offers stunning views of the famous financial district. 

After being whizzed up in a glass elevator, guests make their way to an immaculate terrace surrounding the swish restaurant. Whisky cocktails, fine wine and - of course - bubbles, are all favourites here. Thoughtful outdoor throws, in case it gets chilly, are a nice touch.

This rooftop hang-out is open all year.

Sky Garden, Monument

Housed on the 35th floor of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building, the Sky Garden claims to be the capital’s highest public garden and boasts unparalleled views of the City.

Wine and dine in the exclusive Darwin Brasserie and Fenchurch Restaurant or opt for relaxed snacks in the lower level cafe. Come evening, watch as the whole city lights up and take your pick of the experimental cocktails on offer. A word of warning, though, it can get pretty nippy even inside at nightfall, so take a jacket. 

Sky Garden is open for visits all year round.

Sushi Samba, Bishopsgate

Sushi Samba

Sushi Samba

It has been at the top of every hipster food list since it opened, but Sushi Samba is much more than just a trendy venue. 

Taking a prime spot near the top of the imposing Heron Tower, the phenomenal views are matched by the complex fusion menu that perfectly balances a plethora of flavours and textures. If it’s only these and the delicious cocktails that you visit for, it’s worth the trip.

Sushi Samba’s views are there to be enjoyed all year round.

Madison, St Paul’s

Madison

Madison

Yes, it’s a roof terrace on top of a shopping centre, but this is a pretty high-end shopping centre in the heart of the financial district. 

A buzzy bar with sun-soaked views of St Paul’s, you’ll mingle with City workers and groups who’ve headed in from out of town. Step inside the glass-sided restaurant for a delicious, Manhattan-style menu complimented by impeccable service. 

Madison is open all year round.

Skylight, Tobacco Docks

Skylight rooftop bar overlooking the London skyline
Skylight, Tobacco Docks

Skylight is famous for its insulated igloos over the festive period. But it’s also the place to be when it comes to summer, with panoramic views of London, day-beds and even a spot of croquet.

The rooftop hosts Yiro, which serves the perfect summer Greek pittas and halloumi fries, burger joint Flip Side, and a bar that pours the most perfect cocktails to compliment. We can’t wait to try the Jalisco Sky, which includes marshmallow infused tequila.

Images: Getty Images / Courtesy of venues / Additional words: Sofia Zagzoule 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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