The Ultimate Guide to London’s Rooftop Bars

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When the sun comes out in London, finding hidden outdoor drinking spots is always top of the agenda. So with that in mind we have put together a list of the best rooftop bars in London, so you can enjoy your sunshine drinks from on high, away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets.

From cool cocktails overlooking the river to hidden terraces with a view, this is your ultimate guide to London’s rooftop bars.

Vista

Best for: Rooftop romance

Vista from The Trafalgar

Opening times: Mon-Sat: 12pm–Midnight, Sun: 12pm–11pm (cover charge of £5 after 4pm (£1 of which goes to their partnered charity)
Signature Drink: Vista Boulevard (£12): Melon Liqueur, fresh lemon juice and agave syrup with vodka, ginger ale and marshmallows.
Getting there: The Trafalgar, 2 Spring Gardens, Trafalgar Square, London, SW1A 2TS
Nearest tube: Charing Cross
Prices: ££££
Website

Rooftop review:

With a name like Vista, you’ll no doubt be expecting a stunning view and fortunately, this bar delivers. Overlooking iconic Trafalgar Square (you are practically eye level with Nelson on the top of his column) and the National Gallery, this is one of the best sunshine spots in the heart of Central London.

The vibe:

Fun, chilled and cheeky, with cracking cocktails including bespoke sharing jugs and a seasonal menu.

Need to know:

They’re closed when it rains, but there are heaters and blankets to keep you warm on a dry evening. When it’s busy, you can wait in the downstairs hotel bar – the staff will give you a buzzer to will tell you when your table is ready. And it’s well worth the wait.

LOOKS FAMILIAR? The episode of Doctor Who, when the TARDIS lands in the square, was filmed from the bar’s terrace. It’s also popular with reality TV shows, with everything from filmed interview links for Britain’s Got Talent to “scenes” from Made in Chelsea popping up on the small screen.

The Sky Lounge

Best for: Commuter cocktails

Cuervos Cantina

Opening times: Main bar: 11am – 2am, outside terrace: 11am to midnight (weather permitting)
Signature Drink: Frozen Margaritas from their pop-up bar, Cuervo’s Cantina
Getting there: Doubletree by Hilton, 7 Pepys Street, London EC3N 4AF, United Kingdom
Nearest tube: Tower Hill
Prices: ££££
Website

Rooftop review:

Just a few minutes walk from Tower Hill, this glamorous rooftop bar has views of The Shard, The Gherkin and the Tower of London.

The vibe:

Sleek and sophisticated inside, chilled and funky out.

Need to know:

This summer the outside terrace hosts one of the hottest pop-ups of 2014, Cuervo’s Cantina. This quirky Mexican-themed part of the roof garden (open from 4pm) serves everything from bespoke Tequila Sangrias to frozen Margaritas and authentic burritos and nachos. Tables are available on a first come first served basis, so get down there early. Vamos!

Coq d’Argent

Best for: Super swanky Champagne in the city

Coq d'Argent Terrace

Opening times: Mon-Fri: 11.30am – 11pm, Sat: 12pm-11pm, Sun: 12pm-5pm
Signature Drink: Champagne, darling!
Getting there: No.1 Poultry, London EC2R 8EJ
Nearest tube: Bank
Prices: £££££
Website

Rooftop review:

The bane of expense accounts across The City, this is a swish and sophisticated oasis bang in the heart of London’s financial centre. Tucked inside the entrance to No1 Poultry, take the funky orange lift straight up to the top for views of famous city landmarks like The Gherkin.

The vibe:

Seriously suited. Popular with business lunches during the week, it is a little more relaxed at the weekend.

Need to know:

Terraces along this bars famous garden are covered and heated, and this summer it has been transformed into a French Riviera-inspired retreat – Yacht d’Argent. There’s even a menu dedicated to its fabulous fizz selection. Get on board!

Radio Rooftop Bar

Best for: Rooftop riverside views

Radio Bar at night

Opening times: Mon to Wed: 12pm-1am, Thur to Sat: 12pm–3am, Sun: 12pm til midnight
Signature Drink: Bespoke seasonal cocktails
Getting there: ME London, 336-337 The Strand, London, WC2R 1HA
Nearest tube: Charing Cross
Prices: ££££
Website

Rooftop review:

This ultra-modern, light and bright bar has incredible riverside views across the city, from Big Ben and the London Eye, right across to The Shard. It has an exclusive feel, and has hosted celebrities ranging from Graham Norton to One Direction. New this year is a decently priced tapas menu, reflecting the hotel’s Spanish roots. However, you can just pop in for a drink in the enclosed bar.

The vibe:

Chilled out during the day and a party place at night. With a DJ spinning the tunes at volume, this is the perfect pre-clubbing venue for those looking to splurge.

Need to know:

Access is from a separate side entrance of the five-star ME hotel. They operate a guest list and queuing system, as it can be up to a two-hour wait on busy nights. Reserving an outdoor table requires a minimum spend of £50 per person from 5pm (£100 from 9pm).

Madison

Best for: Sensational views of St Paul’s Cathedral

Madison rooftop bar inside

Opening times: Mon-Sat: 10am – Midnight, Sun: 10am – 9pm
Signature Drink: Serendipity (£9) Bombay Sapphire, vanilla liqueur, crème de mure
Getting there: Rooftop Terrace, 1 New Change, St Paul’s, London, EC4M 9AF
Nearest tube: St Paul’s
Prices: ££££
Website

Rooftop review:

This rooftop bar is so good it even has a separate viewing area alongside it so tourists can capture the perfect picture of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The vibe:

Laidback European café-culture

Need to know:

After a bit of retail therapy in the New Change shopping and business centre, catch the interior glass lift six floors up to the bar. You’ll find an excellent cocktail list and comfy sofas to recline on while admiring the iconic dome of St. Paul’s across the road.

Aqua Spirit

Best for: Sun worshipping in the West End

Aqua Nueva main terrace

Opening times: Mon-Sat: 12pm – 1am, Terrace Lunch: Mon-Sat: 12pm- 3pm, Terrace Drinks: 3pm onwards
Signature Drink: Nueva Cobbler (Tio Pepe sherry, Crème de Mure, fresh blackberries and raspberries muddled with vanilla sugar)
Getting there: 5th Floor, 30 Argyll Street (entrance opposite The London Palladium), London, W1F 7EB
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
Prices: ££££
Website

Rooftop review:

Take a break from shopping on Oxford Street and visit the uplifting Aqua Spirit. The brand new cocktail menu for summer 2014 features a drink called “Cherry on Top” as well as a divine Cava and brandy combination. Relax and enjoy your drinks in the sunshine with only a muffled backdrop of noise from London’s busiest street below.

The vibe:

Fabulous fusion in chic and chilled surroundings

Need to know:

The discrete and slightly intimidating entrance (think moody lighting and velvet curtains) is right opposite the Palladium Theatre. But don’t worry, a warm welcome awaits when you venture in and take the stylish lifts to the top. Walk past the charcoal-ringed bar through to the two wonderful roof top terraces where you can grab lunch – Japanese (on the Kyoto side) or Spanish (on the Nueva side) – you won’t need a reservation to sit outside.

SUSHISAMBA

Best for: Skyscraper Sushi

Sushisamba

Opening times: Mon-Sun 4pm–1am
Signature Drink: NINA FRESA® (£13) An updated SUSHISAMBA classic with Ketel One vodka, strawberry, grapefruit and guava shaken with rhubarb bitters, lime and sugar. Served ‘up.’
Getting there: Floors 38 & 39, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY
Nearest tube: Liverpool Street
Prices: £££££
Website

Rooftop review:

With the highest outdoor terrace in Europe, this has to be on the list for those wanting to take their nights out to new heights. With breathtaking views across the City and an array of contemporary cocktails with a twist; this is outdoor drinking in London on an epic scale.

The vibe:

Dress to impress

Need to know:

This destination bar has a finely tuned cocktail list and a fabulous fusion menu, taking in Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine. It has three small bars, including the outdoor roof terrace, which are accessed by taking the express glass lift on the side of the building straight up to the 38th Floor. Yes, it’s that high! You don’t have to book to visit the bar, but entry is based on space availability.

The Boundary Rooftop

Best for: Sophisticated Shoreditch sunshine

Boundary rooftop - Long Table

Opening times: Mon to Fri: 12pm-11.30pm, Sat-Sun: 10am-11.30pm (May to September)
Signature Drink: Rooftop Passion (£9.50) Ketel One vodka, Passoa, raspberry, passionfruit, lime
Getting there: Entrance on Redchurch Street, 2-4 Boundary Street, Shoreditch, London, E2 7DD
Nearest tube: Shoreditch High Street
Prices: £££
Website

Rooftop review:

This incredible rooftop bar is tucked away down a side street at the top of a boutique hotel (catch the lift from reception). Expect wooden floors and chic furniture, along with a pretty vine-entwined canopy; a stylish surprise hidden away from the urban sprawl outside.

The vibe:

Mediterranean meets East London

Need to know:

Open all year round thanks to its new weatherproof pergola, you can begin with brunch (10am-12pm Sat-Sun), sample their seasonal cocktails, or tuck in to their Mediterranean lunch and dinner menu. They don’t take bookings for small tables in the bar, so walk-ins are welcome. Booking is advised for larger parties.

Terrace Restaurant

Best for: Cultured cocktails

Terrace Restaurant

Opening times: Mon to Sat: 5pm to 11pm (also opens for Midweek and Sat matinees noon to 2pm and Sun matinees noon to 2pm)
Signature Drink: Pumpkin Martini (£7.60) – Sipsmith vodka, pumpkin puree, Vanilla.
Getting there: National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX
Nearest tube: Waterloo (from the south side of the river) or Embankment (north side of the river)
Prices: £££
Website

Rooftop review:

As well as being a cultural treasure, The National Theatre also has a very high-up terrace with romantic riverside views. The theatrical influence can be seen in the seasonal cocktail menu, with quirky drink titles like “Murder in Berlin” (Tia Maria, Morgan spiced rum, liquorice syrup, lemon juice). If the mixologists can’t tempt you, then try the locally brewed Meantime beer or choose from their decent wine list.

The vibe:

Theatrical tipplers

Need to know:

The NT is bigger than you think, so head straight to level 2 on the Lyttelton side of the building. Booking is advisable for eating, they do a great range of cheese and charcuterie if you want something to share. Otherwise, just pop in, order a drink and head out onto the terrace.

The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden

Best for: Fabulous flora and fauna

Southbank Centres Roof Garden

(c) Belinda Lawley

Opening times: 10am-10pm (depending on the weather)
Signature Drink: For an English garden, it has to be gin & tonic – chin chin!
Getting there: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London, SE1 8XX
Nearest tube: Waterloo
Prices: £
Website

Rooftop review:

There are roof gardens…and then there are roof gardens. Where else can you enjoy a drink and outstanding riverside views of the London skyline in the middle of an English meadow?

The vibe:

Sit back, relax and soak up the sights and smells of the countryside

Need to know:

Open from April through to September, venture above the Brutalist concrete architecture of the Southbank Centre to discover 100 native UK species of wildflowers and woodland while you drink. This huge space is the perfect place to while away the hours surrounded by nature.

“It is a bit of a secret, it rewards the adventurers who are willing to go up the yellow staircase and I’d like people to explore the woodland garden more. A lot of people just stay in the front section of the garden so I’d say keep exploring when you’re up there and you’ll be rewarded” – Julian Cox –Roof Garden Guru.

The Print Room: 21

Best for: Covent Garden cocktails

The Print Room 21

(c) Duncan

Opening times: Mon-Tues 12pm–midnight, Wed-Thurs until 1am, Fri-Sat until 2am, Sun- 10.30pm
Signature Drink: Tomartini (£8) Basil-infused vermouth with cherry tomato and thyme gin with a splash of Kalamata olive essence
Getting there: 21 The Market, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8RD
Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square if CG is shut
Prices: £££
Website

Rooftop review:

A hidden Italian-themed bar in the heart of Touristville, if you like a bit of live street performance with your piazza drinks then 21 is the place to be. Even if the view is a little limited, there’s always people watching to be done.

The vibe:

A young, cool and chilled-out crowd

Need to know:

The entrance isn’t that obvious (it’s on the corner of Henrietta and Southampton Street), but once you have climbed the stairs you will find yourself on two fabulous balconies with great views over the piazza. The “La Dolce Vita” happy hour from 5pm-7pm offers exceptional value (£2.95 for a beer for example) and you can pick a few nibbles to snack on while you soak up the sun. They have just refreshed the cocktail menu for the summer so expect some seasonal sensations.

Queen of Hoxton

Best for: Regal rooftop revelry

Queen of Hoxton

Opening times: 12pm daily during the summer until late (check their Twitter or Facebook pages for changes to times)
Signature Drink: Paloma Slushie (£6)- Grapefruit and Tequila – yum!
Getting there: 1-5 Curtain Rd, London EC2A 3JX, United Kingdom
Nearest tube: Liverpool Street
Prices: ££
Website

Rooftop review:

A fun and funky bar with fabulous views over Canary Wharf, you’ll certainly need a drink after climbing up all those stairs! They’ve brightened it up for the summer, and then some; it has to be the most colourful rooftop bar in the capital.

The vibe:

By day – chilled out sun-worshippers – by night – jam-packed for post-work drinks with pals

Need to know:

Now open rain or shine thanks to some additional cover, if sticky –glazed BBQ chicken skewers washed down with Ginger beer (spike it with added rum) sounds like your kind of afternoon / evening, then you can’t go wrong. Visit the “Rooftop Summer Club”, where organisers have created a space to forget your responsibilities and be spontaneous doing crafty workshops. On some days, they close at 9pm for their Rooftop Film Club screenings (www.rooftopfilmclub.com) so check before you go.

Golden Bee

Best for: Creating an alfresco buzz

Golden Bee

Opening times: Tues-Thurs 5pm-Late, Fri: 5pm–3am, Sat: 5pm-3:30am. Rooftop closes at 11pm
Signature Drink: Golden Bee (£8.50)- Tequila, banana liqueur, passion fruit, sugar, lemon & cloudy apple juice
Getting there: Singer Street, Shoreditch, EC1V 9DD
Nearest tube: Old Street
Prices: £££
Website

Rooftop review:

For post-work or pre-club drinks, the Golden Bee’s large rooftop garden is hard to beat. Think comfy sofas and wooden decking, along with a cracking cocktail menu, and all within a stone’s throw of Old Street station.

The vibe:

Laidback clubbers quaffing cocktails in a stylish setting

Need to know:

Tuesday through to Friday they have a happy hour between 5 and 7pm. Although the rooftop closes at 11pm, you can head down the spiral staircase to one of the club nights at the weekend. It’s free entry before 9pm but afterwards door charges apply. When the sun goes down the fire pit and moveable heaters will ensure that the atmosphere remains warm and welcoming.

Dalston Roof Park

Best for: Music and movies with your membership

Dalston Roof Park

(c) Matthew Black

Opening times: The bar is open from 5pm weekdays and 3pm weekends. Closes 11pm Tue-Thurs and Midnight Fri-Sat, 10pm on Sun.
Signature Drinks: Keep it local with the Meantime Brewing Company’s lager and pale ale.
Getting there: 18 Ashwin Street, London, E8 3DL
Nearest tube: Highbury and Islington – but right next door to Dalston Junction on the Overground.
Prices: £
Website

Rooftop review:

Describes itself as a urban utopian oasis; and who are we to argue. This is basically a park on a roof with amazing views across the East London skyline. 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 vibe:

Laidback people enjoying a bit of Park-life in Dalston.

Need to know:

When you think “membership” you think big bucks, but here for the princely sum of £5 you can have access to a host of free music, movie and lifestyle events throughout the summer; check their Facebook page for listings as sometimes it is ticket only. It might seem like a magical mystery tour to get to the top, four floors and no lift, but it’s well worth the climb.

Rooftop recommendations

Please let us know your thoughts on our best rooftop bar selection by leaving a comment below. Have we have missed off one of your favourites? If so we would love to hear about it and any other outdoor bars, pubs or terraces we haven’t discovered yet. And don’t forget to check out the weather forecast before you venture out!

Image credits: Duncan and Matthew Black via Flickr creative commons

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About Author

Kirsten Beacock

Kirsten is the chief blogger here at lastminute.com. A former newspaper journalist (don’t hold that against her), having taken extensive trips to China, America and Australasia, she is now pouring her passion for travel into writing blogs and features for the lastminute.com website. Arriving in London via exotic Scunthorpe, Kirsten has made it her mission to try out as many pubs and restaurants as she possibly can in the capital.

7 Comments

  1. Chris Zavos on

    Very interesting places hidden well in crowded areas everyone has visited before. I will bookmark this page and visit a couple of them next time I am in London.

  2. Pingback: Up on the roof... - Beauty & Fashion Tips

  3. I loved the Queen Elizabeth hall roof garden, had a really good evening there with my pals. It had a lovely view and it was nice to have a garden in the middle of London to relax at. Conveniently close to waterloo as well.

  4. My wife and I tried going to the Boundary bar early on a Sunday lunchtime, and were turned away by the receptionist who stated that they were booked for weeks!!! Stating that they don’t take bookings for the bar is not accurate.

    • Kirsten Beacock
      Kirsten Beacock on

      I’m sorry to hear that Alan. The information at the time of publishing, and as stated, was that they took some group bookings in the bar but it was mainly first come, first served basis for the smaller tables (i.e. one or two of you). This clearly may since have changed – and like all rooftop bars, when the sun shines they get busy. I know you need to book well in advance for dining.
      Thanks for letting us know Alan – I’ll contact the bar and check.

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