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Waterloo bars

Swerve the rush hour chaos and dive into the best bars in Waterloo for after-work drinks or pre-train pints

By Laura Richards
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Why battle your way through the crowds at the obvious spots – here’s the inside track on the best bars in Waterloo. Escape to rooftop bars with banging views high up above the rush hour frenzy or dive into basement cocktail joints where happy hours and anthems on the stereo guarantee to get the party started. Or if you’re just after a civilised pint before your train, there’s craft beer galore, like in any other respecting part of town. Get to work on our list of Waterloo’s best bars.

RECOMMENDED: Find more fun nearby in our Waterloo area guide

The best bars in Waterloo

12th Knot

4 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs Hotel bars South Bank

This chic rooftop bar has one of the best views in town, with a terrace overlooking St Paul’s and DJs to lure sophisticated after-workers and Friday night socialites. Inside is just as blingy, and the drinks are skillfully mixed. Grab a champagne cocktail at sunset to feel like you’re living your best life.

Baltic

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Eastern European Southwark

Check out this Southwark bar for Polish-themed drinking in low-key surrounds. There are more than 50 cocktails on the lengthy list, but the speciality is vodka – it’s served by the shot or three sizes of carafe, and includes everything from the standard Finlandia to the luxe likes of Chopin and Snow Leopard.

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Bar Elba

4 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Waterloo

Welcome to party island, a rooftop bar with a rather loose Napoleon theme. It's a buzzy oasis and the ideal place from which to wait out the rush hour. With fairy lights, communal benches and a sizeable cocktail list (frosé included), this rooftop bar is more about the (bona)party than the nineteenth-century military leader.

Venue says Join us for rooftop bottomless brunches every Saturday & Sunday, or head on up for our outdoor cinema Tues, Wed & Sundays. Book Now!

Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden Bar & Café

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants South Bank

This rooftop allotment/woodland/wildflower meadow (tended to by volunteers) is packed for sunny lunchtimes, but choose it for a tipple, too. Food and drink come from a smart wooden bar area. Things stay civilised, with a slightly otherworldly vibe thanks to a cap on crowds and a smoking ban. Perfect for a sundowner as the world passes by down below.

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Lyaness

5 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs Cocktail bars South Bank

Most people embrace the mantra ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Not Mr Lyan. London’s leading mixologist has built up bars only to tear them down - take Lyaness, which replaces the world-renowned Dandelyan. The powder-blue makeover adds freshness, but the real overhaul is saved for the menu: seven newly created ingredients feature, with three different drinks made from each. 

Venue says Lyaness is launching Fancy Tea, a tongue-in-cheek take on a high-end 80s dinner party with a bold Lyan twist & cocktails created by the team

Skylon Bar

5 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs Cocktail bars South Bank

Pass through the Royal Festival Hall foyer and head on up. Skylon is a blend of contemporary style and retro chic, and it makes terrific use of its cathedral ceilings and vast windows, which afford views of river, skyline and people on the move. In the middle of the room, surrounded by restaurant tables, is a cocktail oasis serving both classics and signature drinks.

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Tonight Josephine

3 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Waterloo

Tonight Josephine, a tiny basement bar in Waterloo proper, wants your night out to become a photo shoot. Bask in its insta-ready glow and catch the vibes from motivational messages on the walls, like: ‘Why the fuck can’t I have fun all the time?’. Cocktails are equally brash and sugary sweet. Bring a gaggle and get down to ‘90s pop.

Venue says Bottomless brunch every Saturday? Yes please! Join Josephine for bottomless Prosecco, brunch, showgirls, burlesque dancers and more ✌️💋🌸

Vaulty Towers

4 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs Café bars Waterloo

Part pub, part theatrical production, this boozer is owned by the brains behind The Vaults (the arts company in the tunnels under Waterloo station) – and you can tell. The place is littered with humungous props that whisper of onstage antics. Beer-wise, there aren’t many craft options beyond Lagunitas, but there’s espresso martini on tap, draft negronis and boozy lychee or Pimm’s slushies. Fun with a capital F.

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Waterloo Tap

4 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs Craft beer pubs Waterloo

Sister pub to the Euston Tap, this craft beer haven is also very close to a station. But this outpost is housed in a hip railway arch. The beer selection is British-focused, with the North especially well represented. The 20-strong keg selection (plus six on cask) is presented on big TV screens either side of the bar – compelling viewing indeed.

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