Jason Allen 04/01/22
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 for 2023. And so get ready to raise your glass…
…several floors up.
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 lowly ground dwellers below you. (Ironically, of course.)
Details: 30 Argyll Street, W1B 3BR | Walk-in only
Radio Rooftop Bar | Aldwych
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, Tate Modern, Somerset House, The London Eye, and the Houses of Parliament at the same time.
Details: ME London, 336-337 Strand, WC2R 1HA | Book here
Seabird | Blackfriars
This stunning seafood restaurant is a collaboration with Brooklyn’s Maison Première. And if those New Yorkers know how to do anything, it’s swanky cocktail bars surrounded by skyscrapers. Also pizza and bagels, but you can’t get those here.
Details: Top floor of The Hoxton, 40 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8PB | Walk-ins only for drinks
Queen Elizabeth Hall Rooftop Garden | South Bank
An unexpectedly verdant spot atop a brutalist landmark with riverside views, vibrant flower beds stocked with over 200 species of plant life, and a shed bar shaking up cocktails inspired by the garden itself.
Details: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | Walk-ins only
The Rooftop | 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 retractable canopies that have been stitched onto this centrally-located rooftop bar.
Details: 2 Spring Gardens, Trafalgar Square, SW1A 2TS | Book here | Please note there is a min. spend of £35pp Mon-Thurs, and £50pp Fri-Sun
12th Knot | Southbank
We’re going to level with you here: 12th Knot has a very small outdoor area – it’s just a balcony, essentially. But… the drinks are delicious, and the views take in one of the nicest bits of the Thames. So on balance, it’s totally worth it.
Details: 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PD | Book here
Roof East | Stratford
A high-altitude rooftop playground set on an old car park, whose charms include a crazy golf course from Birdies, batting cages, giant jenga, ‘disco’ lawn bowls, ping pong, archery, and a cinema courtesy of Rooftop Film Club. Plus, a generous collection of three street food stalls and five bars.
Details: Stratford Multi-Storey Car Park, Great Eastern Way, E15 1XE | No table bookings, but you can book games here.
The Rooftop Bar at 100 Shoreditch | Shoreditch
This pink-hued drinkery is set along a long stretch across the front of 100 Shoreditch, with a slanted roof sitting above a tile floor. The place is covered in green desert plants housed in rough terracotta pots, and if you step outside onto the terrace, you’ll see a beautiful panoramic view looking out over the city across to the west…
Details: 100 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JQ | No bookings
Laurel’s on the Roof | Shoreditch
Laurel’s on the Roof is inspired by the vibe of “Hollywood in the ’70s”. So it’s appropriate that it’s extremely high. You’ll find it on the sixth floor of the new Mondrian Hotel in Shoreditch, and the space it’s taking up is a hell of a looker. Our recommendation? Go for the view, stay for the cocktails, and grab a bite to eat at Manteca, which is literally a few yards away from the hotel…
Details: 45 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3PT | Book here
TT Liquor | Shoreditch
TT Liquor already has a cellar cocktail bar, a bottle shop, a dedicated masterclass workshop and a hidden cinema… but now they’ve added a festoon-lit rooftop bar for good measure, too – featuring pizza from the World Famous Gordo’s…
Details: 17b Kingsland Road, E2 8AA | Book here
Netil 360 | London Fields
It’s part workspace, part gallery, part café… but despite all their adorable attempts to get your attention, all you really care about here is the rooftop bar.
Details: 1 Westgate Street, E8 3RL | No bookings
Boundary | Shoreditch
Shoreditch has seen it all: nuns, factory owners, criminals, and prostitutes. Now it boasts a firepit-laden roof terrace with 360-degree views across the chimneys of the East End. And hipsters.
Details: 2-4 Boundary Street, E2 7DD | No bookings for drinks
Sushisamba Heron Tower | Liverpool Street
Perched atop the Heron Tower, Sushisamba’s rooftop bar combines Japanese cocktails with incredible city views and 2am opening hours. And a bright orange, life-size, tree.
Details: 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY | Bookings for meals, drinks on a walk-in basis
Culpeper Roof Garden | Spitalfields
The Culpeper’s rooftop has its own bar serving signature cocktails, a garden supplying herbal tinctures for said cocktails, a grill restaurant, firepits, urban gardening masterclasses, and a view of the City’s towering skyline.
Details: 40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP | Bookings for meals, drinks on a walk-in basis
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. Oh, and they have a contortionist… ready to serve your martini with a twist.
Details: 9 Aldgate High Street, EC3N 1AH | Book here
Chiringuito | Bethnal Green
This rooftop bar sits neatly on top of a former public loo in Bethnal Green’s Museum Gardens – it’s not the most staggering view (given that it’s on the first floor), but it makes up for it with plush comfort and a laid back, beach bar vibe.
Details: Museum Gardens, Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA | Book here
Madison | Bank
A rooftop bar directly overlooking St. Paul’s Cathedral – where you’ll also be treated to DJ sets, Josper grilled steaks & Italicus cocktails (try the signature Spritz).
Details: Rooftop Terrace, One New Change, EC4M 9AF | Book here (although you can’t guarantee an outdoor table)
Coq d’Argent | Bank
Sitting atop the incomparable 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.
Details: 1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ | Bookings for meals, drinks on a walk-in basis
Upper 5th Shoreditch | Shoreditch
Going by the stage name “Upper 5th Shoreditch”, this Shoreditch rooftop bar is one of those places where you can sip on expertly-mixed signature cocktails (including originals like the Red King, with local Hoxton gin, Campari, port and raspberry) 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’s rooftops.
Details: Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch, 335-337 Old Street, EC1V 9LL | Book on 0203 310 5555 – or just turn up
Abbey Tavern | Kentish Town
Aside from a pretty stellar live music program, burgers and mezze from Aviv’s Kitchen, and a truly excellent lineup of craft beers… the Abbey Tavern also has a chilled-out roof terrace. It’s the very nearly literal cherry on top.
Details: 124 Kentish Town Road, NW1 9QB | Book here
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.
Details: 19 Perth Road, N4 3HB | Walk-ins only
Studio Franzen | Knightsbridge
Studio Franzen is already a pretty incredible restaurant, so adding a roof terrace really is just gilding the lily. And as gildings go, this one’s absolutely lovely. The top floor space is awash with wood, stone, and greenery, all illuminated by the glow festoon lighting. And the view? Well, you’re on top of Harrods overlooking one of the prettiest parts of London, so it’s not terrible. The drinks are all inventive & delicious, ranging from the punchy Nobel (with cherry wine, aquavit, and liquorice), to the Hartass, which involves lingonberry, blackcurrant, sloe gin, yuzushu, champagne, and gold. Oh, and it’s got a roof juuuust in case.
Details: Harrods rooftop, 87-135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL | Book here
Aerial at The Broadcaster | White City
Aerial is the shiny new crown sitting on top of The Broadcaster, a pub & restaurant from the people behind The Lighterman, which sits in the White City space whose hallowed halls once bustled with the legends behind virtually every hit the BBC had over the last half century. Head on up to the venue’s open-air rooftop, and you’ll find a large, wood-filled space running the length of the roof itself lined by tables & olive trees, and covered with an extremely useful retractable roof. It all looks down over the iconic courtyard below, and you can see the BBC’s familiar white-dotted Television Centre logo right there at eye-level…
Details: The Broadcaster, 89 Wood Lane, W12 7FX | Book here
Cha Cha | Ladbroke Grove
First floor views over a railway line may not win the prize for ‘most jaw-dropping panoramic skyline at a rooftop bar’… but that melts into insignificance when you’re enjoying a ginger-spiked margarita beneath sunny-hued parasols.
Details: Sister Jane Townhouse, 36 Golborne Road, London W10 5PR | Book here
Roof Garden at Pantechnicon | Knightsbridge
One of our favourite rooftop bars in West London, partly because you’d never expect it to be there. It’s perched on top of Pantechnicon, a five-storey hub of all things Japanese, filled with shops, cafés, bars and restaurants – the loveliest of which is right at the top. Despite being a little off the beaten track, it’s always buzzy with drinkers and diners, and what it lacks in views (being only a few storeys off the ground), it more than makes up for with excellent cocktails, music and dishes.
Details: 19 Motcomb Street, London SW1X 8LB | Book here
Pergola On The Piste | Paddington
Pergola Paddington has commandeered a sprawling, canal-side, 850-capacity space for its aerial shenanigans, with festoon lighting, DJs, bookable chalets and tables, and miniature jungles proliferating over the pergolas overhead. Currently, it’s in its winter coat in the form of Pergola On The Piste, and ski-inspired hideaway. As ever, they serve up some mean cocktails, while food comes in the form of burgers, mac & cheese, Japanese snacks and Alpine dishes.
Details: 5 Kingdom Street, W2 6PY | Book here
Skylark | Paddington
With its frozen cocktails, fresh pizzas and jaunty striped parasols, Skylark would feel a million miles from London – were it not for the rooftop views of the city all around you.
Details: 10th Floor, 4 Kingdom Street, London, W2 6BD | Book here
The Lyric | Hammersmith
Perched on top of the Lyric Hammersmith, the theatre’s roof terrace threatens to steal the show with verdant palms, booze, and a healthy dose of sun.
Details: Lyric Hammersmith, Lyric Square, W6 0QL | Book here
Bar Elba | Waterloo
Setting itself apart from other rooftop bars, Elba (named after the island that Napoleon was exiled to, naturally) combines bottomless sunset booze sessions, outdoor film nights and burgers, with sweeping views of the London skyline.
Details: Mercury House, 109-117 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UL | Book here
Midnight Apothecary | 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.
Details: Brunel Museum Rooftop, Railway Avenue, SE16 4LF | Open Fridays & Saturdays | Book ahead, from £8
Skylight Peckham | Peckham
Skylight took everything that was great about their Wapping rooftop bar, gave it a little spit and polish, and set it down on top of a rooftop in Peckham. Their sophomore spot is a little smoother round the edges than the original, with plenty of seating and some truly spectacular views. In summer, they fire up the BBQ, and there’s regular DJ and live music nights, meaning you can get down, very high up, until 1am.
Details: 120 Peckham Hill Street, SE15 5JT | Book here
Bussey Rooftop Bar | Peckham
The Bussey Building’s rooftop bar has everything a good rooftop bar should have: cocktails, street food (from Share A Slice), and several floors beneath it.
Details: Copeland Park and Bussey Building, 133 Copeland Road, SE15 4SL | Book here
Forza Wine | Peckham
Sister to Camberwell’s Forza Win, this rooftop bar also dishes up glorious Italian cooking, cocktails and natural wine. And the panoramic views are alright, too.
Details: Floor 5, 133a Rye Lane, Peckham, SE15 4BQ | Book here
The Corin | Tooting
Sitting three floors above the busy Tooting Broadway intersection, The Corin not only boasts a pretty spacious and well-dressed roof terrace, but also frequently fills that terrace with live musicians. Add to that some interesting cocktails, pan-Asian dishes, and plenty of quirky touches, and this bar wouldn’t look out of place in Soho.
Details: 54A Tooting High Street, SW17 0RN | Book here
Frank’s Cafe & Campari Bar | Peckham
97% of the people who visit multi-storey 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: the original and best rooftop-bar-on-top-of-a-Peckham-car-park-specialising-in-classic-Italian-aperitivi, where you can take in the setting sun over the London skyline with a negroni in hand.
Details: 10th Floor, Multi Storey Car Park, 95A Rye Lane, SE15 4ST | Walk-ins only | Please note Frank’s Café & Campari Bar is closed until summer 2023.
If you like rooftop bars…then chances are you’ll like these viewpoints in London, too
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