10 of the best rooftop bars in London for cocktails and good times
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Rooftop bars can be a fun way to see a different part of a destination while enjoying a beverage or three. Rooftop bars in London aren’t quite as common as you might think, perhaps due to both the design and centuries-old age of much of London’s architecture and the fact that there are lots of days where the weather isn’t conducive to extended exposed socialising.
Nonetheless, when the sun does peek from behind a cloud there’s still plenty of options across the city. You’ll want to plan ahead as trying your luck on a glorious day may result in disappointment as other Londoners have the same idea.
Here are 10 of the best rooftop bars in London.
Just a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street station is the highest outdoor dining terrace in Europe. An astonishing 38 floors up in Bishopsgate’s Heron Tower you’ll find Sushi Samba, serving a mix of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, and 360-degree views across London. It’s upmarket and fairly pricey — bespoke cocktails start at £13 each. They serve food and drinks until 3am. Thursday to Saturday which is great if the venue you are in closes before then, but you aren’t quite ready to go home yet.
Sushi Samba also has venues in Las Vegas and Dubai.
Related: How to spend a Sunday in London
With a name like this and a location in the heart of the City Mile, you won’t be surprised to find refined French cuisine served for lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday. What might surprise you is the surprising views across the city, where you easily spot urban landmarks like The Shard and The Fenchurch Building (more commonly known as the Walkie-Talkie). Its rooftop terrace garden is a fabulous place for afterwork drinks with colleagues but don’t leave your arrival too long after 5pm as the space with the best views is small and fills up quickly with suits knocking off.
Warm and sunny days aren’t a guarantee in London, even in the middle of summer. So when the skies are blue and the temperatures high, Londoners flock to rooftop bars across the city and they can reach capacity before lunchtime. You’re unlikely to encounter this problem at the sprawling Netil 360 rooftop bar in Hackney. There’s plenty of room to spread out. Leave your Sunday best at home and park yourself on the astroturf with hundreds of other Londoners to enjoy this unfussy slice of fun. The vibe is more rustic than luxe — pints in plastic cups moreso than artisan cocktails, but the benefit of this is you won’t be waiting long for a drink, even on the busiest of days.
There’s also a hot and cold sauna on the rooftop if the mood takes you.
The old Curtain hotel is now the Mondrian, joining the Accor Live Limitless programme. The top to tail refurbishment of the hotel includes a small but gorgeous rooftop bar and swimming pool. You’ll be transported to South Beach Miami, with the geometric designs, bright pastel colours and abundance of plant life so many stories up. The best part? This oasis is in the heart of busy Shoreditch. The downside? After midday, entrance is restricted to hotels guests who have booked directly through the hotel (and not through third party booking sites) and members of the private members club that shares the same building.
But hey, its never too early for a mimosa, right?
Also in hipster Shoreditch, you never know quite what you will find at the huge Queen of Hoxton rooftop bar. The venue is known for unusual themes including Wizard of Oz and Luchadores wrestling. Right now the theme is Alice in Winterland — you can travel down the rabbit hole until March 2022.
Always a talking point, it’s a great spot for a first date if you fear you may run out of things to talk about. Bookings for tables are recommended.
While you won’t enjoy a panoramic view of the city as a result of only being a floor or two up, you jaw will likely drop when you walk into this incredibly lush multi-level beer garden, hidden away at the back of an unassuming pub in Finsbury Park. Think ‘treehouse vibes’ and you’re getting close. On a sunny day, the impossibly green space is glorious — there’s plenty of nooks and crannies for a cheeky pint, with live sport shown on a giant screen inside downstairs. Think of it as a playground for adults, but they don’t take table bookings so arrive early to grab a spot in this very unusual venue.
On the 14th floor of the Dorsett City Hotel in Aldgate, just next to the famous Gherkin building and St Botolph’s Church, this bar has an Asian-inspired cocktail menu including jasmine-tea shaken with spirits. The design of the bar itself stretches up and across the ceiling forming a canopy in the shape of a giant pineapple.
Their take on a traditional Negroni includes Baijiu, a traditional Chinese spirit, replacing the traditional gin. Outdoor tables are available for walk-in guests on a first come, first served basis.
Downstairs there’s a restaurant serving dim sum and Peking duck.
South of the river you’ll find lively and colourful Brixton, with its rich Caribbean culture. The Prince of Wales has a popular terrace spread over two levels. Try a rum cocktail and check out their excellent wood fired pizza too. For dessert, you can try a deep fried Mars bar. It’s open from 5pm every day except Mondays and until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.
Expect DJ’s playing soul, disco, houser and hip-hop on the rooftop and live music downstairs.
The former BBC building is now the ME London hotel in the heart of London. The 10th floor rooftop bar, named Radio enjoys views of famous London landmarks including the Gherkin, St Paul’s cathedral and the London Eye observation wheel. Bookings are essential and you can expect your wallet to take a beating at this luxurious location with cocktails averaging a hefty £18 each.
There’s something for everyone at the Culpeper: a pub, a restaurant, a hotel and on the fourth floor, a rooftop garden and bar. Mixologists make use of the property’s greenhouse (which is also on the roof) to craft unique botanical cocktails like the Lemon-Thyme Ambrosia, which is made with brandy, calvados and Prosecco. It’s a beautiful building from top to bottom. If you like what you taste, in normal times, the Culpeper also hosts regular cocktail-making workshops on its rooftop — and the occasional astronomy lesson.
London’s best rooftop bars can be a little tricky to find and fill up quickly on a sunny day, but they’re well worth the effort to grab a drink, a snack and take in a different view of the city of London.
Featured image courtesy of The Culpeper’s Facebook page.
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