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-1.30am.
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: Mon-Sun: 10am-10pm.
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: Sun-Wed: 12pm-1am & Thu-Sat: 11am-2am.
Gardening Society Rooftop | Oxford Circus
Never knowingly under cover, John Lewis’ Gardening Society rooftop is back for the summer, with Asian and Middle Eastern fusion tacos from Foley’s; bookable summerhouses with their own private herb garden out front; plus what is possibly Britain’s smallest pub, The Gardener’s Arms.
It’s literally pint-sized.
Opening Hours: Sun-Wed: until 9pm (last entry 8pm) & Thu-Sat: until 11pm (last entry 10pm)
Pergola Paddington Central | Paddington
A sibling rooftop to the wildly successful Pergola on the Roof in White City, PPC is commandeering a sprawling, canalside, 850-capacity space for its aerial shenanigans. The design takes more of an urban, sophisticated direction than its sibling, with smooth, natural decking and miniature jungles proliferating over trellises and sprouting out of planters. This also means more permanent-looking stalls for the truly amazing food traders…VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Weds-Sun: 12pm-11pm
Aqua Kyoto | 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.
Sisu | Marble Arch
Perched up on a roof above Oxford Street, you can merrily watch the throngs of shoppers haplessly hunt for bargains below while you sip on cocktails from either the bartender or the vending machine (yes, cocktails from a coin-op) – then soaking it all up with some street food. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 12pm-10pm & Sat-Sun: 10am-10pm
Skylight | Wapping
Following hot on the astroturfed heels of the Social Fun & Games Club on Roof East and last year’s pétanque lawns at Pergola on the Roof, Skylight is going big on the high-altitude activities. Decked out like a souped-up English garden party, the venue boasts multiple areas for croquet, pétanque and lawn bowls… VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Thurs-Sun: 12pm-11pm
SUSHISAMBA | Liverpool Street
Perched atop the Heron Tower, Sushisamba combines Japanese cocktails with incredible city views and 3am Friday and Saturday opening hours. And a life-size, fake orange tree. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Wed: 11.30am-1am, Thur: 11.30am-2am, Fri-Sat: 11.30am-3am & Sun: 11.30am-12am.
Shoreditch Sky Terrace | Shoreditch
Going by the stage name “Shoreditch Sky Terrace”, this rooftop bar’s 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-Sun: 4pm-10pm
Queen of Hoxton | Shoreditch
This is probably the hardest working rooftop in the capital; in winter it’s covered in a giant wigwam, while in summer it hosts popup cinemas, bars, events, BBQs, DJs, and you. And as of May it will become Neverland… VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Wed: 4pm-12am, Thurs-Sat: 4pm-2am & Sun: 12pm-3am.
Golden Bee | Shoreditch
They’ve got sofas, fire pits, and a cinema club running all spring/summer. And they’ve just had a very nice refurb… VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon: 6pm-11pm (cinema only), Tue: 5pm-12am, Wed: 5pm-1am, 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: Mon-Wed: 6pm-12am, Thurs-Sat: 6pm-1am & 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. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 5pm-11pm.
Skylounge | Bank
When you call your place “Skylounge”, you’d better be willing to step up. And they have, with not one, but TWO terraces on the 12th floor. And this year, they’re running a Cuban-style ‘Casa Havana’ theme… VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 11am-2am & Sun: 11am-1am.
Madison | Bank
A rooftop cocktail and tapas bar directly overlooking St. Pauls Cathedral – which is nice. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 11am-1am & Sun: 11am-9pm.
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-Fri: 4pm-12am, Sat: 12pm-12am & Sun: 12pm-11.30pm.
Dalston Roof Park | Dalston
DRP actually began life as a series of allotments, and since then it’s owners have carefully cultivated popup bars, cinemas, restaurants, gigs, and more. Which is some impressive gardening work. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon: Closed. Tue-Fri: 5pm-11pm, Sat: 3pm-12am, Sun: 3pm-10pm.
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: 10am-9pm, Thurs-Sat: 10am-11pm & Sun: 10am-9pm.
Angler Rooftop Restaurant and Terrace | Moorgate
Sitting on top of The South Place Hotel, Angler is one of the sleeker rooftop venues in the city. The fact that the restaurant it’s attached to has a Michelin star is just window dressing, really. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 12pm-10pm & Sun: Closed.
Culpeper Roof Garden | Spitalfields
The Culpeper’s roof spot has its own bar serving signature cocktails, a garden supplying herbal tinctures for said cocktails, a bespoke grill from the London Log Company, a view of the City’s towering skyline, AND, an intimate, 12 – 14 seater glass Greenhouse. Just in case. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 12pm–11pm & Sun: 12pm-10pm.
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: 12pm-10pm, Sat: 5pm-10pm & Sun: Closed.
Roof East | Stratford
Roof East are really upping their games. Because the car-park rooftop summer spot is returning for its fourth year next month, and thanks to the expert curation of the Social Fun & Games Club, it’s going to host a rooftop rollerdisco, a baseball batting cage club, and hip-hop inspired pétanque from De La Bowl. Oh, and crazy golf. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Tue-Fri: 5pm-11pm & Sat-Sun: 12pm-11pm.
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-10.30pm, Sun-Thur: Closed. Tickets required, buy them here.
Pergola on the Roof | White City
Boasting the probably uncontested – but no less impressive – title of Europe’s largest temporary pergola, PotR is out this year to recreate a summer in The Hamptons, with whitewashed wood, swaying palm trees and your run-of-the-mill thirteen-seater day beds. And naturally, some of the best street food in the land. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Wed–Fri: 6pm–11pm – Sat: 12pm–11pm – Sun: 12pm–9.30pm
The Roof Gardens | Kensington
Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks – Kensington Roof Garden’s resident flamingos – are ready and waiting for you. So you won’t be the only party animal with sophisticated cocktails, panoramic views and smooth, live jazz. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Fri-Sat: 10pm-3am & Sun-Thur: Closed.
Paradise By Way of Kensal Green | Kilburn
Frequented by a fashion-forward crowd, you’d expect Paradise by Way of Kensal Green to hold a few surprises. And, as always, you’d be right. And one of them is a roof terrace. It’s got a conservatory on it now, in order to keep it going in the colder months, but it’s still a blast. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Wed: 4pm-12am, Thur: 4pm-1am, Fri: 4pm-2am, Sat: 12pm-2am & Sun, 12pm-11.30pm.
The Driver | King’s X
The people behind Driver are so dedicated to the idea of rooftop drinking 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 roof for it. Instead, it has wood decking, sofas, and a dedicated BBQ chef for the summer months. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Thur: 4.30pm-12am, Fri: 12pm-12am, Sat: 6pm-12am & Sun: Closed.
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 roof terrace. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs: 9am-11pm, Fri-Sat: 9am-12am & Sun: 10am-10pm.
The Lock Tavern | Camden
Filled with achingly cool people listening to achingly cool music, thankfully the Lock provides a rooftop where you can sooth those aches. Via booze. VIEW DETAILS
Opening Hours: Mon–Thur: 12pm-12am, Fri–Sat: 12pm-1am & Sun: 12pm-11pm.
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: Mon–Wed: 9.30am-12am, Thurs–Fri: 9.30am-3am, Sat: 9am-3am & Sun: 9.30am-12am.
Brixton Beach | Brixton
South London now has a little more in comon with South America, thanks to Brixton Beach. Back for a second year, this time they’re running with a Cuban theme, with music, street food, and drinks-a-plenty.
Opening Hours: Reopening on the 26th of May. Thurs: 6pm-10pm – Fri: 6pm-12am – Sat: 11am-12am – Sun: 12pm-11pm
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: Re-opening May 2017, 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. VIEW DETAILS
Opening hours: Mon-Wed: 11am-11pm, Thur: 11am-12am, Fri: 11am-2am, Sat: 10am-2am, Sun: 10am-10:30pm
Main image: Aqua Kyoto
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