London's best rooftop bars

Get a taste of the high life with our pick of London's best spots to enjoy cocktails in the clouds

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As much as we love London's dark and dingy pubs, there are occasions when tatty banquettes and yellowed walls don't quite cut it. For a classier night of inebriation, get yourself to one of London's best rooftop bars. Here, you'll find swish cocktails, plush lounges and gourmet snacks galore, not to mention a front-row seat to the sexiest skyline on the planet.

  1. London's best rooftop bars
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On the Roof with Q

  • Price band: 2/4

There’s no James Bond genius on this roof, masterminding his weaponry and gadgets. But there is an element of stealth and intrigue to this summer spin-off from Camden’s Q Grill. It’s reached by an express lift to the eighth floor from a discreet entrance opposite a Selfridges’ perfume counter. You’re whisked high above Oxford Street to a lair that would be the envy of Ian Fleming’s hero. The flags of many nations fly along the parapet; beautiful people cluster around a cocktail bar; attentive staff are at your beck and call from brunch time until late evening. Discreet, too: no views, but also no prying eyes.

Open now until September 27 2014 (weather permitting).

  1. Selfridges Roof Top, 400 Oxford Street, W1H 6HB
Book online

Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden Bar & Café

First planted as part of the Festival of Britain in 1951, this rooftop area was left to become concrete tundra for decades. But with guidance from the Eden Project, this rooftop is now replanted every summer. In addition to the Astroturf there is now a real lawn, large planters of vegetables and a wildflower ‘meadow’. The café is run by caterer Company of Cooks, so expect a selection of decent pastries and savoury snacks (with the occasional hot sarnie, too), plus glasses of Pimm’s or pink gin lemonade (both £6.90).

Open now until Autumn 2014 (weather permitting).

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, (Belvedere Road), SE1 8XX. Waterloo tube/rail.
More info

Radio Rooftop Bar

The name Radio derives from the location – a grand art deco edifice once known as Marconi House, but now the fancy ME London hotel. Radio is on the roof, ten floors up, where transmission aerials once stood. The terrace is equipped with a retractable roof, big sofas and space heaters. It mainly faces south (oh look – there’s the Oxo Tower and Big Ben). The bar attached to this view is great too. This is a sleek, glammed-up, ‘Sex and the City’ destination for long-legged model types and ski-holiday–brochure chaps with unseasonal tans. A man with a clipboard decides where you can sit; a DJ keeps it upbeat.

Open all year (weather permitting).

  1. ME London, 336-337 The Strand, WC2R 1HA. Temple tube.
More info

Boundary Rooftop

This unsurprisingly popular spot is perched atop the Terence Conran-designed Boundary Project hot and restaurants. It was remodelled in 2013, with a weatherproof pergola allowing the bar and dining area to stay open in all weathers, and heaters to keep the chill off.

Open all year (weather permitting). 

  1. 2-4 Boundary Street, E2 7DD. Old Street tube/rail or Shoreditch High Street tube.
More info

Sushisamba (bar)

Faster than a bullet train, the express lift up the side of the Heron Tower builds the excitement on the ascent to Sushisamba. Occupying the top floors of one of the highest buildings in the City, it offers breathtaking views down over the adjacent Gherkin; further afield you can see the Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral and much else besides. Sushisamba has two small bars, plus an outdoor roof terrace bar; tell the door staff you do not have a meal reservation but are going to the bar, then take the lift to the 38th floor and walk straight in. Cocktails are pricey and the list short, but this is still a destination bar par excellence, with unbeatable views, a crowd who are blinged up for the occasion, and relatively easy access.

Open now until Autumn 2014 (weather permitting). Note: may close due to high winds.

  1. Floors 38 & 39, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY. Liverpool St tube/rail.
More info

Vista

Perched on the top of the Trafalgar Hotel in Trafalgar Square, this smartened up bar has impressive views – Nelson's Column spears the skyline, plus there's the London Eye and Big Ben. The drinks are tailored for tourists and expense accounts, with cocktails costing over twelve quid apiece.    

Open now until Autumn 2014 (weather permitting).

  1. The Trafalgar, Trafalgar Square, (2 Spring Gardens), SW1A 2TS. Charing Cross tube/rail.
More info

Aqua

Visiting the terrace bars at either of the two Aqua restaurants feels like walking into a set for a music video with a London skyline. The two ritzy roof terraces serve up exotic cocktails (from £9.50) to a well-groomed clientele. Aqua Kyoto's terrace bar has an extensive saké list too.

Open all year (weather permitting).

  1. 5th Flo5th Floor, 30 Argyll Street, W1F 7EB. Oxford Circus tube.
More info

Frank's Cafe

NB  Only reopens in summer 2014 for a few months.

Frank's Café is a summer-only bar which emerged on top of Peckham's multi-storey car park in summer 2007 as part of a sculpture exhibition. Peckham is not famed for being scenic, but sit under the illuminated red canopy at twilight and you can drink in unparalleled views across London along with your Campari-based cocktail, prosecco or bottled beer.

Due to open summer 2014 until autumn 2014 .

  1. 10th floor, Peckham multi-storey car park, 95a Rye Lane, SE15 4ST
More info

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  2. More rooftop drinking options

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Users say

3 comments
bigsands
bigsands

The Roof-Top bars are a step up from the pubs. The service is much better and you will be served your wine in a spotlessly clean glass. The toilets are also cleaner. Pubs need to step up. The Roof Gardens is my favourite, then Vista at the Trafalgar Hotel. However, they can all benefit from having live ensembles performing background music to create the best ambiance.

Sophie
Sophie

Surely the Roof Gardens Kensington should be included...Babylon's terrace for evening cocktails is unbeatable!

C.A.
C.A.

1 New Change rooftop bar - great views of St. Paul's.