Imagine navigating your way through the crowds of the South Bank.
It’s hot; it’s sweaty; the onlookers surrounding the floating-yoda-who-hasn’t-blinked-in-12-hours are blocking your way.
But then you discover an innocuous cement staircase veiled in bright yellow paint; a beacon of light above the teeming hordes. Ascending it, you’re welcomed by a rare sight: a roof terrace in central London. Behold the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden Bar & Café.
Contrary to popular belief, not all rooftop bars sit atop disused carparks; this one is found above the illustrious Southbank Centre, encircled by its iconic brutalist architecture. You’ll be able to sit back and enjoy a cold beer (or wine, soft drink, tea or coffee) whilst admiring the views over the Thames and London’s famous skyline. If you’re keen to indulge in something a little more solid; you can also get a variety of sandwiches and other snacks.
The area itself is pretty large and prides itself on being a very welcome green space amongst, and quite literally surrounded by, a concrete jungle. You can take a seat on a bench, or lounge picnic-style on the unexpected lawn. There are wildflowers, trees and allotments, all of which are maintained by Grounded EcoTherapy – a charity and team of volunteers who’ve all faced homelessness, addiction and mental health problems. An outlet and purpose, the gardens have helped transform these people’s lives.
Arguably, it might just be one of the South Bank’s crowning glories.
NOTE: Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden Bar & Cafe is open from 10:00am to 10:30pm until the 1st September and then 12pm – 9pm from 2nd September until 27th October, before closing for the winter. Entry is free, but adverse weather may effect opening times. Click here to find out more.
Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden Bar & Café | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
Like bars with a view? Check out your ultimate London rooftop bar guide