Rooftop Bars in London | Taking Cocktails Up A Level
Last Updated 3rd May 2018
If there’s one thing that’s better when done on a rooftop, it’s literally everything.
And that includes drinking.
Which is why we’ve nobly taken it upon ourselves to put together a comprehensive guide to the very best rooftop bars in London. And so get ready to raise your glass…
…several floors up.
Rumpus Room | Southbank
We’re going to level with you here: the Rumpus Room has a very small outdoor area – it’s just a few chairs, essentially. But… the drinks are delicious, and the views are of one of the nicest bits of the Thames. So on balance, it’s totally worth it. Plus, they’ve had a whole new ultra-slick refurb. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Tue-Wed: 5pm-1am & Thur-Sat: 5pm-2am.
OXO Tower Bar | Southbank
You’ve seen it from the outside, now see it… from the outside again, as you’ll be on their river-facing terrace. The drinks here are pretty decent, and we put a lot of, ahem, stock in their cocktails. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 12pm-11pm & Sun: 12pm-10pm.
Southbank Centre Roof Garden | Southbank
You probably didn’t think there would be a picnicking spot on this list. And that would be entirely reasonable, but totally wrong. Because the Roof Garden has a damn meadow with over 150 species of native wildflowers, plus fruit trees, allotment boxes, a tunnel of scented flowers, a woodland garden, and yes, a picnic lawn. You can bring your own picnic, or just get one from the onsite cafe. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Daily 12-8pm (10am-10pm after 25th May)
Radio Rooftop Bar | Covent Garden
The cocktails lean towards the expensive side… but what you’re really paying for here is the view: you can see Tower Bridge, The Shard, St. Paul’s, The Tate Modern, Somerset House, The London Eye, and the Houses of Parliament, at the same time. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Daily from noon (11am weekends)
Trafalgar St. James | Trafalgar Square
Now not only can you have a cocktail whilst practically locking eyes with Lord Nelson, you can do it all year round, thanks to the new retractable canopies that have been stitched onto the terrace… VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Tues: 12pm-12am, Wed-Thurs: 12pm-1am, Sat: 12pm-3am, Sun: 12-7pm
Aqua Spirit | Soho
Like a tranquil island of booze-laced bliss in the chaos of Central London, Aqua sits high above Oxford Street ready for you to kick back, order a cocktail, and laugh haughtily at the teeming masses below you. (Ironically, of course.) VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 12pm-10.30pm.
John Lewis Summer of Sound
As of this Saturday, John Lewis on Oxford Street are reopening their roof garden – one of the largest in London – as a live music venue. You’ll be able to listen to bands like Slow Club, acoustic acts, DJ sets, and more while eating fried chicken sandwiches from Butchies & drinking G&Ts from their Fever Tree bar.
Details: Opening 5th May | 5th Floor, John Lewis, 300 Oxford Street, W1C 1DX
THE CITY & EAST LONDON
Skylight | Wapping
Skylight is vying for one of the most activity-laden rooftop bars in London. Decked out like a souped-up English garden party, the venue boasts croquet and pétanque lawns, big screens for Wimbledon, DJs, spritzers and street food… VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Thurs-Fri: 5-11pm, weekends 12-11pm
SUSHISAMBA | Liverpool Street
Perched atop the Heron Tower, Sushisamba combines Japanese cocktails with incredible city views and 2am Friday and Saturday opening hours. And a life-size, fake orange tree. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Sun-Tues: 11.30am-1.30am, Wed-Sat: 11.30am-2am
Shoreditch Sky Terrace | Shoreditch
Going by the stage name “Shoreditch Sky Terrace”, this rooftop bar is one of those places where you can sip on expertly-mixed signature cocktails (including originals like their sloe gin & prosecco Ball & Chain, or the rum & chilli Solitary) and listen to DJ sets while nibbling on bar snacks and soaking up not only the sun’s rays, but also an unlimited quantity of photo opps in front of a beautiful panoramic view across London. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 3pm-11pm, weekends: 12-11pm
Queen of Hoxton | Shoreditch
This is probably one of the hardest working rooftop bars in London. In winter it’s covered in a giant wigwam; in summer it hosts popup cinemas, bars, events, BBQs, DJs, and you. And this sunny season it’s home to a utopian, eco-warrior filled ‘Lost’ Vegas… VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Open 4-10pm daily
Golden Bee | Shoreditch
They’ve got sofas, fire pits, and DJs to see you into the early hours. And they’ve recently had a very nice refurb… VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Tue & Wed: 5pm-12am, Thurs: 5pm-2am & Fri-Sat: 5pm-3am.
Boundary | Shoreditch
Shoreditch has seen it all: nuns, factory owners, criminals, and prostitutes. Now it boasts a roof terrace with 360-degree views across the chimneys of the East End. And hipsters. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am-11pm
Coq d’Argent | Bank
Sitting atop the incomparably postmodern monolith that is No.1 Poultry, Coq d’Argent resides upon ancient ruins which date back to 47AD. In case you want to get a little Roman. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Thur: 11.30pm-midnight, Fri-Sat: 11.30-1am, Sun: 12-4pm.
Madison | Bank
A rooftop cocktail and tapas bar directly overlooking St. Paul’s Cathedral – which is nice. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Daily 11am – late (from noon on Sundays)
The Fox | Haggerston
Next time you find yourself thinking “Man, I’d love to go drink on a rooftop, but I just can’t find one with a wide enough selection of craft beers, which to be specific, is at least 100” …just head down to The Fox. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs: 4pm-12am, Fri: 2pm-12am, Sat: 12pm-12am & Sun: 12pm-11pm.
Netil360 | London Fields
It’s part workspace, part gallery, part cafe… but despite all their adorable attempts to get your attention, all you really care about here is the bar, and the fact that it’s on the roof. They serve draught from Five Points Brewery, and spirits from East London Liquor Company. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Tue: Closed. Wed: 12-8.30pm, Thurs-Sat: 12-10.30pm & Sun: 12-8.30pm.
Angler Rooftop Restaurant and Terrace | Moorgate
Sitting on top of The South Place Hotel, Angler is one of the sleeker rooftop bars in London. The fact that the restaurant it’s attached to has a Michelin star is just window dressing, really. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 12pm-11pm, Sat: 5-11pm & Sun: Closed.
Culpeper Roof Garden | Spitalfields
Credit: Veerle Evens
The Culpeper’s rooftop – redesigned as PICULPEPER for the summer – has its own bar serving signature cocktails, a garden supplying herbal tinctures for said cocktails, urban gardening masterclasses, a view of the City’s towering skyline, AND a bonus game of spot difference between The Gherkin and their giant gherkin. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Tues – Sun: 11am – 10.30pm (10pm Sundays)
Jin Bo Law | Aldgate
They say no-one’s above the Jin Bo Law…
…probably because it’s on the 14th floor of the Dorsett City Hotel in Aldgate. And while the inside view’s pretty great (the bar is in the shape of an illuminated pineapple), the outside view drops you right in the middle of the City’s eclectic skyline. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Daily 5pm-1am
Bird of Smithfield | Smithfield
What do you get if you cross the ex-head chef of The Ivy with a ground floor lounge, a tweed-dressed restaurant, a private dining room, a late-night subterranean cocktail den and a sun-drenched roof terrace overlooking Smithfield Market? Answer: this place. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-midnight, Sat: 5pm-1am & Sun: Closed.
Roof East | Stratford
Roof East are really upping their games. Because the car-park rooftop bar is returning for its fifth year next month, and thanks to the expert curation of the Social Fun & Games Club, it’s going to host baseball batting cages, hip-hop inspired pétanque, crazy golf, summer food by Jimmy Garcia, the Rooftop Film Club, flaming cocktails, and a car full of clowns. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Open from 3rd May
Midnight Apothecary at Brunel Museum | Rotherhithe
The term “rooftop campfire botanical cocktail bar with marshmallows” gets thrown around a lot these days. Oh, wait, we’re thinking of the other one. It gets thrown around almost never. But in the case of Midnight Apothecary, it’s justified. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Fri-Sat: 5.30pm-10pm, Sun-Thur: Closed. Tickets required, buy them here.
The Driver | King’s Cross
The people behind Driver are so dedicated to the idea of rooftop bars that they decided to grow the 200 plants they use in the UK’s first vertical garden, just so that they didn’t have to use the space on the 4th floor rooftop for it. Instead, it has wood decking, sofas, and a dedicated BBQ chef for the summer months. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 5pm-12am, Sat: 6pm-12am & Sun: Closed.
FEST | Camden
A new opening for this year, FEST is taking its first tentative steps atop Camden Market’s former horse hospital by keeping things simple, with craft beers, pizza, cocktails, guest DJs, ‘blingo’, live music, themed private party booths, karaoke, movie karaoke, and neon-lit indoor carnival parties on a Saturday night.
Opening Hours: Sun-Weds: 12pm-11pm; Thur-Sat: 12pm-2.30am
Faltering Fullback | Finsbury Park
One of the quirkier, more unusual pubs in London, the FF is virtually hidden within its own foliage. Soak up the atmosphere inside, then soak up the sun outside. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Thur: 12pm-12am, Fri-Sat: 12pm-1am & Sun: 12pm-11.30pm.
Abbey Tavern | Kentish Town
Aside from a pretty stellar live music program, regular games of Cards Against Humanity, and a truly excellent lineup of craft beers… they also have a roof terrace. It’s the very nearly literal cherry on top. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Sun-Thurs: 12pm-12am & Fri-Sat: 12pm-1am.
Vivo | Islington
Vivo takes its Italian-ness to 11, with Neapolitan pizza, Sardinian lager, and prosecco cocktails, all of which can be enjoyed on a pretty damn good-looking rooftop terrace. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 9am-late & Sun: 10am-9.30pm.
The Lock Tavern | Camden
Filled with achingly cool people listening to achingly cool music, thankfully the Lock provides a rooftop where you can soothe those aches. Via booze. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon–Thur: 12pm-12am, Fri–Sat: 12pm-1am & Sun: 12pm-11pm.
Pergola Paddington Central | Paddington
Back for a second summer, PPC is commandeering a sprawling, canal-side, 850-capacity space for its aerial shenanigans. The design takes more of an urban, sophisticated direction than its White City forefather, with smooth, natural decking and miniature jungles proliferating over trellises and sprouting out of planters, while food comes courtesy of Patty & Bun, Canard, MAM and DF Mexico…VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Weds-Sun: 12pm-11pm (10.30pm Sunday) from 26th April
The Lyric | Hammersmith
Perched on top of the Lyric theatre, the roof terrace threatens to steal the show with verdant palms, booze, and a healthy dose of sun – none of which you can find inside the theatre. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: noon-11pm, Sun: closed
Bar Elba | Waterloo
Setting itself apart from other rooftop bars, Elba (named after the island that Napoleon was exiled to) serves some of the best Frozé in London. Theirs has vodka, rosé, strawberry purée, grapefruit, and agave nectar…VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Sun-Thurs: 5pm-12am; Fri-Sat: 4pm-12am
Bussey Beer Garden | Peckham
The London Beer Factory’s rooftop bar has everything a good rooftop beer garden should have: beer, BBQ, and several floors beneath it. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Reopens in May
The Prince of Wales | Brixton
The Prince has a perfectly lovely roof terrace, but the best part of the place is Sovereign Loss; the cocktail bar underneath it all. It’s small, speakeasy-like, and is one of the best kept secrets in South London. Grab a drink there, and head upstairs for a chaser. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: See events HERE
Frank’s Cafe & Campari Bar | Peckham
97% of the people who visit multi-story car parks after dark do so with the primary intention of scoring a ‘non-pool related’ eight-ball. The other 3% are there for Frank’s Campari Bar. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon: Closed, Tue-Fri: 5pm-11pm & Sat-Sun: 11am-11pm
The Exhibit | Balham
The Exhibit has pretty much everything – bar, restaurant, cinema, dance floor, gallery, and yes, roof terrace. It’s small, but perfectly formed. And if it gets too busy, you can head down to their al fresco garden instead. VIEW DETAILS
Opening hours: Mon-Tues: 3pm-11pm, Wed: 3pm-12am, Thur: 3pm-1am, Fri: 3pm-2am, Sat: 11am-2am, Sun: 11am-10:30pm
Main image: Shoreditch Sky Terrace
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