London rooftop bars

Best rooftop bars in London

Make the most of London’s skyscrapers, historic buildings and all that glitters in between from a range of London rooftop bars. While you sip your next favourite drink, there’s ample opportunity to soak up the superlative views from the comfort of your seating area, whether it’s a private booth, round-curved sofa or standing on a balcony. There are rooftop bars far and wide, from north to south, east to west; and you may find that your favourite isn’t necessarily slap-bang in the heart of the city, but further out, where you can appreciate lesser-known views and more

Madison

Offering dazzling views over St Paul’s Cathedral, Madison’s is the type of bar that Londoners would recommend if you asked them what rooftop bar to go to in London. There’s an indoors restaurant, or simply enjoy the views and the atmosphere from the terrace, with its covered seating, stylish decorations (think potted palm trees, fairy lights, plush sofas) and more. It’s even more stunning in the evening, where you can watch the sun set over the city with a St Paul’s Sunset (vodka, black cherry & red wine liqueur) cocktail or glass of champers in hand. They also serve snacks and light dishes, such as rosemary focaccia and fish tacos.   

Area: St Paul’s

Vibe: Affordable luxury

Sky Garden

If it’s unbeatable views, lots of space and a green-feel interior design you’re after, Sky Pod Rooftop Bar could well be your favourite rooftop bar in London. Access is via 20 Fenchurch Street (the Walkie Talkie skyscraper), where following a quick security check you’ll whizz up the escalator to the top floor. It’s free to visit the Sky Gardens themselves, but treat yourself to a drink at day or night to really complete your experience. Plus, there’s live music on the weekends.  

Area: Monument/Tower Hill

Vibe: Greenscapes in London

Bar Elba

Just a stone’s throw from Waterloo Station and The Old Vic Theatre sits Bar Elba, a lively rooftop bar that is very much underrated for what it offers. It’s named after the island that French military leader Napoleon was exiled to; expect to see quotes of his (as well as pink statues) dotted around the place while you sip your wine, froze (frozen rose) or delicious cocktails. 

If you’re considering London holidays, Waterloo is a convenient place to base yourself; it’s well connected with public transport, there’s a range of restaurants and cultural institutions, and some of the surrounding accommodation might be slightly more affordable than other areas listed in this article. 

Area: Waterloo

Vibe: Colourful, tropical island

Lost in Brixton

This rooftop bar in Brixton is perfect for rainy days, as it’s all undercover. But stepping into Lost in Brixton is like entering a parallel universe, worlds apart from the commotion of busy Brixton life on the streets below. The place is filled with booths, long tables and high tables, while the decor has flowers rippling across ceilings, flagpoles and walls alike. On the drinks menu are the likes of wine, sangria. Spritzers, cocktails and beer – it’s easy to get lost in the menu.   

Area: Brixton

Vibe: Rooftop jungle

The Castle

For a low-key rooftop bar, head to Islington’s The Castle, which is located on Pentonville Road. If the green exterior wasn’t appealing enough, the low-set roof terrace is filled with wooden tables and overlooks the road below. Take your pick from real ales, wines and spirits, with a tasty range of bar snacks to keep you going.  

Area: Islington

Vibe: Fancy pubs

No. 32 The Old Town

Venture south of the river and into Clapham, where among many fun bars, pubs and restaurants to choose from, No.32 The Old Town is one of the best. This rooftop bar is also a restaurant, and has more of a village-like feel to it, as it overlooks Clapham Common and is situated in the quieter, pedestrian-heavy Old Town part of Clapham. This rooftop bar is cosy yet stylish and has overhead coverings in cooler months, along with blankets. It’s a perfect spot for catching up with friends over a beer, cocktail, G&T or whiskey.  

Area: Clapham

Vibe: Cosy yet bougie

12th Knot

The seriously swish 12th Knot makes the most of its open-plan layout so you can admire the views both inside and out. The equally swish design and decor features bright rugs, striking decor and plush chairs, while views look over the river and city skyline beyond. You can also head outside to the balcony for a spot of fresh air. The cocktails are deluxe (as are the prices); with tipples like P.O.S.H, that tells you all you need to know. There’s also a wide range of spirits, liqueurs, wines and champagnes, too. Note that the dress code is smart casual. 

Area: Southwark

Vibe: Boutique style luxury

The Rooftop

With a name like The Rooftop, the Trafalgar St James' bar does what it says on the tin. Overlooking the lastminute.com London Eye, the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square (you're practically eye level with Nelson on the top of his column), this is one of the best sunshine spots in the heart of Central London. Open year-round, The Rooftop offers an open fireplace, heaters and a selection of blankets to keep you warm and dry, even when the typical British weather is out in force. Be sure to make room for the Korean and Japanese sharing plates while you're there - you won't be disappointed. 

Area: Trafalgar Square

Vibe: Fun, chilled and cheeky

Savage Garden

Just a few minutes walk from Tower Hill, this glamorous rooftop bar has views of The Shard, The Gherkin and the Tower of London. Tables are available on a first come first served basis, so get down there early. Alternatively, make a booking through the website to be sure you get a table. 

Area: Tower Hill

Vibe: Sleek and sophisticated inside, chilled and funky out

Coq d'Argent

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. Terraces along this bars famous garden are covered (and heated in the winter). There’s even a menu dedicated to its fabulous fizz selection. 

Area: Bank

Vibe: Seriously suited

Radio Rooftop Bar

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. If you're feeling peckish, it serves a decently priced tapas menu, reflecting the hotel’s Spanish roots. However, you can just pop in for a drink in the enclosed bar. With a DJ spinning the tunes at volume, this is the perfect pre-clubbing venue for those looking to splurge. 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). And be sure to dress to impress. 

Area: Charing Cross

Vibe: Chilled out during the day and a party place at night

Aqua Spirit

Take a break from shopping on Oxford Street and visit the uplifting Aqua Spirit. The bar has several cocktail menus, including twists on classics and a range inspired by Japanese flavours. Relax and enjoy your drinks in the sunshine with only a muffled backdrop of noise from London’s busiest street below. 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. 

Area: Oxford Circus

Vibe: Fabulous fusion in chic and chilled surroundings

Sushisamba

With the highest outdoor terrace in Europe, this has to be on the list. With breathtaking views across the City and contemporary cocktails with a twist; this is outdoor drinking in London on an epic scale. 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. 

Area: Liverpool Street

Vibe: Dress to impress

The Boundary Rooftop

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. 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. 

Area: Shoreditch High Street

Vibe: Mediterranean meets East London

Terrace Restaurant

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 drinks being themed around the plays being performed. If the mixologists can’t tempt you, then try the locally brewed Meantime beer or choose from their decent wine list. 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. 

Area: Waterloo

Vibe: Post work, pre theatre

The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden

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? 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. 

Area: Waterloo

Vibe: Casual. Sit back and relax.

Queen of Hoxton

 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. The summer themed-bar, Bangarang, is inspired by Peter Pan, with the Lost Boys' hideout housing the bar and a pirate ship to explore. Now open rain or shine thanks to some additional cover, if sticky –glazed ribs, burgers and fairy-themed cocktails 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. 

Area: Liverpool Street

Vibe: By day – chilled out sunshine. By night - jam-packed for post-work drinks with pals

Golden Bee

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. Tuesday through to Friday they have a happy hour between 5 and 7pm. Although the rooftop closes at 12am, 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. 

Area: Old Street

Vibe: Laidback clubbers

Dalston Roof Park

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. And it's been newly refurbished for 2017, so why not head down to see what they've done with the place. When you think “membership” you think big bucks, but here for the princely sum of £12 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. 

Area: Highbury

Vibe: Laidback people enjoying a bit of Park-life in Dalston

Netil 360

This is a place for both day and night time - as its now part workspace, café, gallery and bar. You can watch the sun set over East London where you get glorious views. Take a pew on the wooden seating and try some local drinks. At the top of Hackney's Netil House, they got a licence in late 2015 which means they can put on pop-up parties throughout the year. Try and combine a visit with a trip to Netil Market which takes place on Saturdays. 

Area: London Fields

Vibe: East London culture vultures

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