Rooftop Bars in London | Taking Cocktails Up A Level
Last Updated 29th August 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.
It’s chilly out there. Perhaps you’d rather see our pick of London’s best winter rooftop bars?
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.) READ MORE
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 12pm-10.30pm.
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 ultra-slick refurb. READ MORE
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. READ MORE
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 on-site cafe. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Daily 10am-10pm
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, The Tate Modern, Somerset House, The London Eye, and the Houses of Parliament, at the same time. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Daily from noon (11am weekends)
John Lewis Summer of Sound
John Lewis on Oxford Street have reopened their roof garden – surprisingly, one of the largest in London – as a live music venue. You can kick back and listen to bands like Slow Club, acoustic acts, DJ sets, and more while eating gravy-dipped burgers from Nanny Bills & drinking G&Ts from their Fever Tree bar.
Details: Sun-Wed 12-9pm, Thur-Sat 12-11pm until 23rd September 2018 | 5th Floor, John Lewis, 300 Oxford Street, W1C 1DX
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… READ MORE
Opening Hours: Mon-Tues: 12pm-12am, Wed-Thurs: 12pm-1am, Sat: 12pm-3am, Sun: 12-7pm__
THE CITY & EAST LONDON
Skylight | Wapping
Skylight is a strong contender for one of the most activity-laden rooftop bars in London, combining an upcycled bar area alongside croquet and pétanque lawns, big screens for sports, DJs, sunshine and street food… READ MORE
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 opening hours. And a bright orange, life-size, fake tree. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Sun-Tues: 11.30am-1.30am, Wed-Sat: 11.30am-2am
Chiringuito | Bethnal Green
This one 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 a the first floor), but it makes up for it with plush comfort and a laid back, beach bar vibe. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Daily 7am-10pm
Martello Hall | London Fields
London Fields’ favourite co-working space/pizzeria/craft beer den/gin distillery/brunch spot has added another string to its bow, in the form of a small but cosy rooftop terrace with excellent cocktails… READ MORE
Opening Hours: Daily 12-10pm
Upper 5th Shoreditch | Shoreditch
Going by the stage name “Upper 5th Shoreditch”, this 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. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 3pm-11pm, weekends: 12-11pm
Madison | Bank
A rooftop cocktail and tapas bar directly overlooking St. Paul’s Cathedral – which is nice. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Daily 11am – late (from noon on Sundays)
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… READ MORE
Opening Hours: Open 4-10pm weekdays, 12-10pm weekends
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… READ MORE
Opening Hours: Tue & Wed: 5pm-12am, Thurs: 5pm-2am & Fri-Sat: 5pm-3am.
Netil360 | 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 bar, and the fact that it’s on the roof. They serve draught from Five Points Brewery, and spirits from East London Liquor Company. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Mon-Tue: Closed. Wed: 12-8.30pm, Thurs-Sat: 12-10.30pm & Sun: 12-8.30pm.
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. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am-11pm
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. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 12pm-11pm, Sat: 5-11pm & Sun: Closed.
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. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Mon-Thur: 11.30pm-midnight, Fri-Sat: 11.30-1am, Sun: 12-4pm.
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. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Fri-Sat: 5.30pm-10pm, Sun-Thur: Closed. Tickets required, buy them here.
Culpeper Roof Garden | Spitalfields
Credit: Veerle Evens
The Culpeper’s rooftop – currently going by the adorable moniker of PICULPEPER – 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 actual Gherkin, and their giant gherkin. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Tues – Sun: 11am – 10.30pm (10pm Sundays)
Dalston Roof Park | Dalston
Dalston Roof Park is almost entirely self-explanatory. But presumably, ‘Dalston Roof Park With Two Bars, Astroturf, Bar Food, A Retractable Awning And Regular Club Nights’ was deemed a touch too long. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Roof open weekdays 9-3pm, bar open Tues-Thurs 5-11pm, Fri 5pm-12am, Sat 3pm-12am, Sun 3-10pm
Bird of Smithfield | Smithfield
What do you get if you cross a former The Ivy chef 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. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-midnight, Sat: 5pm-1am & Sun: Closed.
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. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Daily 5pm-1am
Roof East | Stratford
Roof East are really upping their games. Because the car-park rooftop bar is back for its fifth year, and thanks to the expert curation of the Social Fun & Games Club, it’s hosting 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. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Tues-Fri 5-11pm, weekends 12-11pm
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mr. Fogg’s Residence | Mayfair
The perfectly adorable terrace at Mr. Fogg’s looks like a Victorian garden party crash-landed onto a New Orleans verandah. The result? Eclectic furnishings; fairylights in the evening; and some of the city’s most unusual cocktails. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Weekdays 4pm-2am, Sat 1.30pm-2am, Sun 3pm-12am
Pergola Paddington Central | Paddington
Back for a second year, PPC is commandeering a sprawling, canal-side, 850-capacity space for its aerial shenanigans, with festoon lighting, day beds, and miniature jungles proliferating over the pergolas overhead. As ever, they’re serving up some mean spritzers, while food comes courtesy of Patty & Bun, Canard, MAM and DF Mexico…READ MORE
Opening Hours: Weds-Sun: 12pm-11pm (10.30pm Sunday) | Closed Oct 1st-18th for a seasonal makeover
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. 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, of course) serves some of the best Frozé in London. Theirs is made with 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. READ MORE
Opening Hours: Open Wed 5.30-9.30pm, Thur 4.30-9.30pm, Fri-Sat 12-10.30pm, Sun 12-9pm
The Prince of Wales | Brixton
It may now be Brixton’s only roof terrace, but the Prince of Wales has many other charms besides pure necessity – like themed parties, a rooftop burger shack, and an entirely blue, neon-filled cocktail bar downstairs. 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 | Until 22nd September 2018
The Exhibit | Balham
The Exhibit has pretty much everything – bar, restaurant, cinema, dance floor, gallery, and yes, a balcony. 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: Upper 5th Shoreditch
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