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aqua rooftop, best bars in soho

The best rooftop bars in Soho and Covent Garden

From Oxford Street to Leicester Square, sip some high-altitude cocktails and take in some awesome views

By Bobby Palmer
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It was Leonardo da Vinci who said, ‘Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward.’ And while we can't guarantee that he was talking about the joy of drinking in rooftop bars, it must have at least crossed his mind.

These are the best rooftop bars in central London, concentrated around Soho and Covent Garden and with such breathtaking views of Piccadilly, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and the like, you'll start to feel jealous of Nelson up there on his column, drinking it all in. They can be tourist traps at the height of summer, and there’s a chance of racking up a drinks bill as tall as the setting – but for views like this, it should all be worth it. 

Central London’s best rooftop bars

Alto by San Carlo

Restaurants Italian Oxford Street

It doesn't get much more Insta-friendly than Alto, a florally bedecked rooftop bar and restaurant on top of Selfridges that takes Italian extravagance to a whole new level. Back off, Gloria, they did it first.

Venue says Stunning rooftop restaurant, bar and alfresco terrace, open until 11pm, Mon-Sat. Serving breakfast with a view Fri-Sun, 9.30-11.30am.

Aqua Spirit

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Soho

Classic cocktails revamped in a moody rooftop setting, Aqua Spirit is decked in dark colours to make sunsets all the more atmospheric. Not to be confused with Aqua Nueva and Aqua Kyoto, the equally classy (and equally roofy) Spanish and Japanese restaurants on the same premises.

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John Lewis Roof Garden

Restaurants Italian Marylebone

You might read the words ‘John Lewis’ and run a mile, fearing an evening of comfortable slippers and burnt orange kitchenware. But that’s not so here. John Lewis's Oxford Street bar is actually a stalwart of the London rooftop scene, with ever-changing themes, cocktail menus put together by Background Bars (the crew behind Night Tales), tasty food and live music.

Radio Rooftop

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Aldwych

Since first opening in 2013, Radio Rooftop has secured its status as one of central London’s prime rooftop drinking destinations. The terrace is much like a slick Ibiza sun lounge – although you probably won’t find such plush blankets and patio heaters in the Balearic Islands. 

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The Rooftop St. James

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Trafalgar Square

As Central London views go, this one is iconic – the bar on top of the Trafalgar Hotel is in the direct eye line of Admiral Nelson. For that alone, this rooftop deserves a visit. Selfie stick optional.

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The Terrace on Piccadilly

Hotels Boutique hotels Piccadilly

It might not have the most enormous or glamorous open-air area, but rooftops on Piccadilly really are hard to come by. Besides, the attached greenhouse-style Terrace restaurant and bar is a sight to behold in its own right.

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LSQ Rooftop

Restaurants British Leicester Square

A rooftop cocktail bar overlooking Leicester Square and the rest of Central London from the Hotel Indigo’s ninth floor. With its wraparound balcony, come here for good views. Look – you can even see the London Eye!

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