Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

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London’s rooftop bars are one of the best outdoor activities in London, drawing day-drinkers and sunset-seekers to ivy-covered terraces and cool hideouts from Mayfair to Peckham. These are our favourite spots for a sky-high cocktail.

THE FOLLOWING ROOFTOP BARS ARE OPEN NOW

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    FORZA WINE

    The team behind Peckham staple Forza Win (headed up by Bash Redford and River Cafe’s Michael Lavery, but currently shuttered and looking for a new venue) have applied their aperitivo expertise to pop-up sister space Forza Wine, where a rotation of seasonal ingredients such as oily tomatoes and garlicky pesto are scooped up with fat fingers of flatbread, and crunchy, aioli-drizzled cauliflower fritti give the underrated vegetable a good name. Skip the soft serve and order a sgroppino (lemon sorbet, vodka and prosecco), and don’t be surprised if otherwise elegant cocktails are served in tumblers – up here, the wind has a habit of knocking over flutes, but it’s worth the gamble with the British weather to bag a table on the terrace with views across neighbouring Frank’s of the cityscape beyond. Anna Prendergast

    Address: Forza Wine, 133 Rye Lane, Peckham, London SE15 4BQ


    Website: forzawine.com


    Open: Sunday-Thursday 12pm-12am; Friday and Saturday 12pm-1am

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  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    SKYLIGHT ROOFTOP BAR AT TOBACCO DOCK, WAPPING

    Place it on top of a car park and Londoners will flock there; first Frank’s, now Skylight at the Tobacco Dock in Wapping. Three floors of fake grass are home to incredible views of the city’s skyline and mellow bar areas. Expect day time yoga classes, DJ residencies and Greek pitas with halloumi and chicken from Yiro to accompany your cocktails. This summer, they’re replacing lawn games such as croquet and pétanque courts with more tables, to allow for social distancing. We suggest booking a table.

    Address: Skylight Rooftop Bar, Pennington St. Car Park Entrance


    Wapping, London E1W 2SF


    Website: skylightlondon.com


    Open: 12pm-3pm daily

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    THE CULPEPER, SPITALFIELDS

    A pub in the heart of East London is not the place you’d think to find views like the one on The Culpeper’s roof. Set in the midst of an urban garden that grows food for the restaurant below – its seasonal menu changes weekly and centres around sustainability – it’s an eclectic spot that feels distinctly British. Look out onto the metropolitan sprawl and one of London’s most famous buildings, the Gherkin, while enjoying a cocktail whipped up below and delicious bar snacks that just might have been grown right beside you.

    Address: The Culpeper, 40 Commercial Street, London E1 6LP


    Telephone: +44 20 7247 5371


    Website: theculpeper.com

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    AVIARY, THE CITY

    At the top of Montcalm Royal House hotel in Finsbury Square, the Aviary is slap-bang in the centre of London, making it a favourite haunt of city slickers for after-work drinks. It’s low-lounge seats and carefully placed trees give the space a comfortable coolness. Get here early to bag a table with a view, as this place gets seriously crowded when the sun shines.

    Address: Aviary Rooftop Restaurant and Terrace Bar, 10th Floor, Montcalm Royal London House, 22-25 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1DX


    Telephone: +44 20 3873 4060


    Website: aviarylondon.com

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    PERGOLA PADDINGTON CENTRAL

    A chilled-out sun-trap in the middle of Paddington? Pergola on the Roof’s little sister venue has been open since 2017, adding to the area’s ever-growing list of surprisingly cool places (Darcie and May Green; The Pilgrm). Two floors of communal benches sprawl out beneath leaf-covered trellises. There’s two open bars, plus street food from D/F Mexico, Mam and Patty & Bun. Grab a taco and a beer and take to the fairy-lit terrace for a sundowner with a view. When it turns chilly (or, let’s face it, starts to rain) head downstairs to the covered lower deck for more of the same.

    Address: Pergola Paddington Central, 5 Kingdom St, London W2 6PY


    Website: paddingtoncentral.com


    Open: Wed 6pm–11pm; Thurs–Sat 12pm–11pm; Sun 12pm–10.30pm

    THE BOUNDARY

    If you’re more familiar with too-cool-for-school Redchurch Street at people-gawping pavement level, this gives you a fresh new angle. Placed atop Sir Terence Conran’s warehouse project – hotel rooms, bar, restaurant and bakery – it’s an expansive space perfumed with Provençale herbs and the nostalgia-tugging scent of a wood fire. Conran’s been in thrall to the Med since the days when a garlic press was an exotic object of desire – and the romance endures. No mac’n’cheese here, but lots of herby, garlicky and lemony flavours – half a lobster glazed with parsley butter, salads of frisée aux lardons and grill-scorched chicken skewers, table-conquering platters of fresh shellfish. It’s a good place to muse on other boundaries: between good and bad taste, gentrification and authenticity. And between having one bottle of Languedoc Minervois or two. By Rick Jordan

    Address: The Boundary, Redchurch Street, London E16


    Website: theboundary.co.uk


    Open: Monday–Sunday 11.30am–11pm

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    UPSTAIRS AT THE DEPARTMENT STORE, BRIXTON

    Downstairs, hurried commuters spill from the station, stressed shoppers navigate London’s most cramped Sainsbury’s and locals collect on pavements to chat and play music. Upstairs is different, a little bit like a member’s club, without the hushed tones or intimidating staff (you can either get a guest pass for the evening or pay a membership fee to go whenever you want. Hot tip: the waiting list is opening up again soon). You’re greeted by name, and then left well alone to enjoy your evening, whether that involves a game of ping pong or table football, cocktails at the bar or supper in the sun. Inside, the design is more Brooklyn than Brixton, with industrial wooden beams and low lighting, and the atmosphere is more New York than London too – people actually welcome conversation with strangers. The food menu is sourced from the rooftop garden where possible: a beetroot salad is fantastically fresh and the jerk chicken celebrates the area’s cultural diversity. Skip pudding and get cocktails; Remember The Thyme is herby and refreshing, made with Balfour Brut Rosé and burnt orange marmalade. The bar also scores points for stocking Picpoul de Pinet, a French wine I always look for and can never find. By Anna Prendergast

    Address: Upstairs at The Department Store, 248 Ferndale Road, Brixton, London SW9 8FR


    Telephone: +44 20 3598 6970


    Website: upstairsbrixton.com


    Open: –Wednesday 5pm–11pm; Thursday 5pm–12am; Friday 5pm–1am; Saturday 11am–1am; Sunday 11am–8pm


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  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    ALTO BY SAN CARLO AT SELFRIDGES ROOFTOP

    Strung with flowers and positioned on top of one of London’s most iconic department stores, Alto by San Carlo is the London rooftop to visit for a hit of Italian charm. Decorative sprinklings of citrus fruits and rattan furniture lend a distinctively summery feel and while on first impressions the tables seem a tad close together, in the end this just adds to the jovial atmosphere. Weary shoppers happily guzzle refreshing Aperol Spritzes in fishbowl sized glasses as they peruse the extensive wine list. Those with an appetite will find delicious Italian plates – truffle and pecorino ravioli, bruschetta with broad beans, mint and ricotta, and sea bass served simply with olive oil, lemon and parsley. This isn’t a rooftop that needs to be saved for good weather. Blankets are doled out the second a chill hits the air, and if it starts raining (let’s face it, it could) a retractable roof and walls are on hand to save the day. By Olivia Holborow


    Address: Alto by San Carlo at Selfridges rooftop, 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB


    Website: sancarlo.co.uk


    Open: Mon–Sat 11.30am–11pm; Sun 11.30am–6pm

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    NETIL 360, HACKNEY

    Netil360 is a sprawling space in gritty East London that’s ideally positioned for soaking up every bit of light the day has to offer. By sunset, the impressive 360 (the hint’s in the name) degree views take the limelight as orange skies melt into a web of twinkling city lights. The bar is casual (definitely no suits or stilettos) – at least until that seminal sundown moment when the atmosphere shifts and the party starts. On the menu is made-to-order pizza and local craft beer, plus spirits at reasonable prices. Although slightly rough-around-the-edges, this rooftop bar has charm – perhaps best illustrated by a scruffy rooftop dog named Tres and a pleasingly out-of-place disco ball that bounces speckles of sunlight around the place. By Olivia Holborow

    Address: Netil360, 1 Westgate Street, Hackney, London E8


    Website: netil360.com


    Open: Wed 12pm–10pm; Thurs–Sat 12pm–11pm; Sun 12p–10pm.

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    12TH KNOT AT SEA CONTAINERS LONDON, SOUTHBANK

    This glass-walled bar on top of the retro Sea Containers London gives the impression you’re floating on the top deck of the ship — all part of the nautical, good-time vibe throughout this buzzy Southbank hub. The terrace leads drinkers out of the plush indoor bar (there’s a lot of velvet) to the long deck with unbeatable, all-encompassing riverside views. Expect to be mesmerised by glittering St Paul’s, and even more so by the drinks – Away From The Craze, made with Hayman sloe gin, Jensen’s Old Tom Gin, Lavender port wine, cacao and citrus, will kick off a summer evening the right way.

    BAR ELBA, WATERLOO

    Coming from the team behind quite possibly the most photographed sign in London (Tonight Josephine’s neon ‘well behaved women don’t make history’), Bar Elba is a sunny, trellised escape above Waterloo. Named after the island Napeolean was exiled to with 600 mates and a horse in the 19th century, there’s snap-friendly graffiti – expect the ‘Liberté, Egelité, Rosé’ sign to crop up on your feed soon – as well as a decent happy hour (even on weekends!) and gravy-dipped burgers on the menu.

    Address: Bar Elba, Rooftop Mercury House, 109-117 Waterloo Rd, London SE1 8UL


    Website: bar-elba.co.uk


    Open: Sun–Thurs 5pm–12am; Fri–Sat 4pm–12am

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    AQUA LONDON, SOHO

    Overlooking Regent Street, escape the madness of Oxford Circus for a sunset above the crowds on one of the three terraces at Aqua London, one of the best bars in Soho. No reservations are taken, so arrive early, and order a cocktail to kick off pre-or-post-dinner drinks: either plump for a Japanese-inspired Jasmine of the Valley vodka, Passoa, Kummel, yuzu, jasmine tea, honey and egg) or a Spanish El Toro (gin, fig liqueur, passion fruit syrup, lemon, tonic, bitters and mango foam).

    Address: Aqua London, 240 Regent St, Soho, London W1B 3BR


    Website: aquanueva.co.uk


    Open: Thurs–Fri 5pm–11pm, Sat–Sun 12pm–11pm.

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    RADIO AT ME LONDON, THE STRAND

    The rooftop bar of the ME London hotel is set on top of the former BBC building on Aldwych and the Strand – hence the name. The vibe is something between City swagger and Euro strut. It’s high in the absolute heart of London so the views are fantastic, with enough landmarks in sight to keep you entertained even on the most boring of dates. Look out past the Savoy and Waterloo Bridge to the South Bank and the Gherkin, The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye; and across the rooftops of Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament.

    Address:Radio Rooftop Bar, ME London, 336-337 The Strand, London WC2


    Website: radiorooftop.com


    Open: Mon–Wed 12pm–1am; Thurs–Sat 2am–2am; Sun 12pm–12am

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    COQ D’ARGENT, THE CITY

    This roof garden was designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd, who has won numerous awards and gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show. The concept for the design of the striking apex garden emanated from images of ploughed fields. Look over the famous Square Mile and landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Mansion House, Monument and the Bank of England. Avoid the weekday rush and visit at the weekends, when the City is quiet. On a Sunday, there’s a live jazz band to enjoy too.

    Address: Coq d’Argent, 1 Poultry, the City, London EC2


    Website: coqdargent.co.uk


    Open: Mon–Fri 11.30am–12am; Sat 12pm–12am; Sun 12pm–5pm

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    THE ROOFTOP BAR AT HOTEL INDIGO, LEICESTER SQUARE

    Perched nine storeys above the usually-better-avoided hustle and bustle of Leicester Square is newly-opened Hotel Indigo’s sleek, window-lined rooftop bar, which is all about the view. A sunny outdoor terrace that looks out over the expanse of the city towards the London Eye runs the length of the building, where a single line of bar tables means there’s tonnes of room to stand. On the menu are twists on the classics, including a burnt peach Bellini and a potent rooftop highball mixed with vodka, chambord and absinthe. We’d suggest opting for a simple, well-prepared, slow-drinking negroni and sitting back to make the most of this little pocket of calm in one of London’s busiest squares. By Olivia Holborow

    Address: The rooftop bar at Hotel Indigo, 1 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7NA


    Website: ihg.com


    Open: Mon–Sun 12.00pm–10.00pm

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    FRANK’S CAFE, PECKHAM

    The rooftop bar that first put Peckham on the map: here young Peckhamites (and now, cool types from across the city too) sip Campari in various forms: Negronis, Americanos and Campari Spritz among them, all while overlooking a slightly grubbier view of the London skyline than some of the slicker bars on this list. Not that has its own charms: this gritty bar is on most summer must-visit lists for a reason.

    Address: Frank’s Café and Campari Bar, 10th floor Peckham multistorey car park, 95a Rye Lane, Peckham, London SE15


    Website: frankscafe.org.uk


    Open: Tues–Fri 5pm–11pm; Sat–Sun 11am–11pm

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    DALSTON ROOFPARK

    The view from this Dalston institution includes less sparkly skyscrapers and more of the surrounding Victorian buildings, with their iron-cast fire escapes and faded paint jobs. But while the vibe is gritty, and the crowd is full of east London hipsters rather than slick City types, there’s something joyful about a London rooftop that doesn’t try too hard. With lurid astro-turf, fake palm trees and colourful, tropical murals, it’s all a bit kitsch. Plus, it’s a community space with local green-fingered folk able to help out with the allotment. DJs are a common feature, playing a chilled-out soundtrack until the early hours, drinks are strong and if the weather’s good, you can happily settle in for the day.


    Address: Dalston Roof Park, The Print House, 18-22 Ashwin St, London E8 3DL


    Website: bootstrapcompany.co.uk


    Open: Tues–Thur 5–11pm; Fri 5pm–12am; Sat 3pm–12am; Sun 3–10pm

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    BŌKAN 38 BAR & 39 ROOFTOP, CANARY WHARF

    Get past its uninspiring Canary Wharf location and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Bōkan, a three-storey restaurant and bar at the top of the Novotel. With Mad Men-style, mid-century-modern furniture, exposed industrial fixtures on the ceiling, and warm, statement lighting, we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to stay inside. But on a glorious summer’s day, Bōkan’s terrace is the place to be for an after-work drink, a Saturday brunch and live jazz on Sundays – all served up alongside breathtaking views of London.

    Address: 40 Marsh Wall, Isle of Dogs, London E14 9TP


    Telephone: +44 20 3530 0550


    Website: bokanlondon.co.uk

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    THE QUEEN OF HOXTON

    This Shoreditch rooftop changes its costume every season, with a new (often fairly whacky) theme each summer to draw in East London’s rooftop dwellers. Views look out over Shoreditch’s brown brick buildings and street art, and the terrace is so big that you can always find a seat (not a given at some of London’s hot-ticket al-fresco spots). In 2019, drinkers were transported to the secret den of the Luchadores (aka lady wrestlers) in San Christabel, Mexico. The rooftop had a fluorescent makeover, with brightly coloured walls, an arm wrestling ring and a taco shack to soak up copious frozen margaritas and tequila cocktails.

    Address: Queen of Hoxton, 1 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3JX


    Website: queenofhoxton.com


    Open: Monday–Wednesday 4pm–12am; Thursday 4pm–2am; Friday–Saturday 12pm–2am; Sunday 12pm–12am

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  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    ROOF GARDEN AT QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL

    One of London’s prettiest terraces, with bright, bold flowers and a great view of the London Eye looming over the city’s rooftops. This truly is a garden: with fruit trees and allotments, plus plenty of grass to stretch out on in the sun. Head up for lunch and stay as the afternoon stretches into the night. Be sure to order a Bellini as you enjoy one of the city’s most picturesque sunsets.

    Address: Roof Garden at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX


    Website: southbankcentre.co.uk


    Open: Mon–Sun 12pm–8pm

  • Rooftop bars in London: our 21 favourite terraces in the capital

    THE ROOFTOP AT THE TRAFALGAR ST JAMES

    Overlooking Trafalgar Square, this is exactly the kind of plush bar you would expect to find on top of a smart hotel – a minimalist aesthetic, smooth service that anticipates your every move and an extensive drinks list. And yet it’s still incredibly cosy – there are snuggly cashmere blankets to keep you warm, a laid-back atmosphere, helped by the tropical house soundtrack, and brilliantly made cocktails (make sure to order the Old Fashioned for a perfect after-work kick).

    Address: The Rooftop, 7th Floor, The Trafalgar St James, 2 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2TS


    Website: rooftopstjames.com


    Open: Mon–Tues 12pm–12am; Wed–Thurs 12pm–1am; Fri–Sat 12pm–3am; Sun 12pm–7pm

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