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The Bussey Building
Photo: Rob Greig

London’s best rooftop bars

Our favourite London’s spots for sinking a few bevvies high above the maddening crowds

By Laura Richards
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Londoners have always loved a rooftop bar. And come April 12 (ish) we’ll love them all the more. That’s the date when outdoor hospitality opens up again, meaning the capital’s rooftop bars will be kosher once more (as long as there aren’t more than six of you in a group). Time to soak up some sunsets and/or wear a big coat. 

We’ve got the lowdown on exactly which sky-high bars are reopening and will keep you updated as even more places share info on being able welcoming back customers for a drink to remember. Obviously, it’s worth booking as early as you can. These places are popular anyway; right now they’re alfresco gold. For specific safety details, check with the venues before you visit. But otherwise, cheers to a spring of getting up on the roof.    

Still not ready to brave the outside world? Here are the bars delivering cocktails to your door.

The best rooftop bars in London

Photograph: Haydon Perrior
Photograph: Haydon Perrior
Photograph: Haydon Perrior

1. Skylight

Things to do Quirky events

What is it? Although Skylight is primarily an all-weather playground over at Tobacco Dock, it also offers a prime position for rooftop drinking with unparalleled panoramas.

Why go? This April the outdoor benches and covered booths are opening for groups of six. You can expect tasty street food, and the venue’s games areas will reopen through the summer: outdoor pétanque from May 17, and indoor and outdoor croquet from June 21. 

Open for bookings: 3pm-10pm Thu-Fri; noon-10pm Sat-Sun.

forza wine
forza wine
Photograph: Sam Harris

2. Forza Wine

Bars and pubs Wine bars Peckham

What is it? A spin-off bar from the guys behind Italian restaurant Forza Win (see what they did with the name there?). It’s back in action from April 12. Woo-hoo!

Why go? The bar snacks are serious stuff and spiced rum hot toddies suit the colder temperatures. Plus, you can shelter indoors and still enjoy the views.

Open for bookings: Mon-Thu, Sun noon-midnight; Fri-Sat noon-1am.

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Bussey Rooftop Bar, Peckham
Bussey Rooftop Bar, Peckham
Photograph: Bussey Rooftop Bar

3. Bussey Rooftop Bar

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Peckham

What is it? Frank’s Cafe’s rival rooftop at Peckham’s Bussey Building will be reopening for your gang of six. Last year it had heaters and blankets to seal the deal.  

Why go? The cocktail menu has had a revamp last year. And for every pizza ordered from the rooftop’s resident kitchen Share a Slice, one will be donated to the homeless. Reduced-guilt pizza!

Open for bookings: 5pm-11pm Mon-Fri; noon-11pm Sat-Sun.

4. NT’s Loft

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars London Fields

What is it? The indoor/outdoor space above Netil House is taking group bookings. DJ sets and live jazz acts complete the line-up.

Why go? Head here if you like your rooftops all jungly and plant-filled: fronds dangle from the ceiling indoors and on the terrace, palm trees fan out on the perimeter.

Open: Wed-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 4pm-11pm, Sun noon-11pm

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allegra at stratford
allegra at stratford
Photograph: Luke Hayes

5. Allegra

Restaurants Contemporary European Stratford

What is it? Okay, it’s not been your average jet-setting year, but you can still recreate some posh holiday vibes on the seventh floor of glossy hotel The Stratford.

Why go? Yes, the bar and terrace of Allegra restaurant have views across to Westfield Stratford, but once you discover the joy of its deckchairs that slip around on rails among the wildflowers and water features, well, you might as well be sitting under the Provençal sun. Just bring your coat!

Open: Tue-Wed 4pm-11pm; Thu-Sat noon-11pm, Sun noon-5pm.

The Nest rooftop bar
The Nest rooftop bar
Photograph: Simon Brown

6. The Nest Rooftop Bar

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Fitzrovia

What is it? Up on the sixteenth floor and affording 360-degree views of the capital from its centre, the Nest Rooftop Bar is a foliage-filled hangout. It’s perched on top of the Treehouse, a hotel with a focus on sustainability.

Why go? There’s an outdoor terrace that wraps around the building and is filled with loungers. We also love the bar’s blossoming living wall.

Open from Apr 12: Mon-Sun noon-11pm

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7. The Rooftop St James

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Trafalgar Square

What is it? As London rooftop views go, this one is iconic. The bar on top of the Trafalgar Hotel is in the direct eye line of Admiral Nelson on his lofty column. Warning: selfie-takers! As a posh central hotel, it also offers a slick menu of well crafted and curated drinks. 

Why go? Well, we’ve all been locked down for a long time, so for once you can probably justify the elevated prices here. And that view is pretty spectacular.

From Apr 12: daily noon-midnight.

aviary rooftop igloo
aviary rooftop igloo
Photograph: Aviary

8. Aviary

Restaurants Moorgate

What is it? Roomy open-air terrace with views up on floor ten, which in a former life brought all the City workers out from their offices. Probably be different vibes this year.

Why go? Stupendous views of London. And two huge peacock statues, naturally. That’s what you’ve been longing for, right?

Open for bookings: 11am-10pm daily from Apr 12.

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bar elba
bar elba
Sebastian Barros

9. Bar Elba

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Waterloo

What is it? This buzzy rooftop oasis offers swoonsome views of the city’s skyline from its position near Waterloo and named with heavy irony after the island Napoleon was exiled to.

Why go? Boozy brunches and cocktails, with an idyllic atmosphere. 

Open for bookings: Mon-Fri 3pm-11pm; Sat-Sun 1pm-11pm, from Apr 12. 

jin bo law
jin bo law
Scott Chasserot

10. Jin Bo Law

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Aldgate

What is it? Fourteenth-floor City sky bar with a pineapple-inspired decor.

Why go? Asia-influenced cocktails and views right across to the Gherkin, so you can play ‘This is small, that is far away’.

Open for bookings: 5pm-11pm Mon-Wed, noon-11pm Thu-Sun from Apr 12.

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boundary rooftop
boundary rooftop
Photograph: Boundary

11. Boundary Rooftop

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Shoreditch

What is it? Boundary does rooftop drinking in style, with a glass roof for protection from the elements in inclement conditions.

Why go? From Easter, the kitchen offers Mediterranean grub even if the London climate doesn't always match it with Mediterranean weather.

Open for bookings: 3pm-11pm Mon-Thu, noon-11pm Fri-Sun from Apr 12.

Thomas Alexander

12. Madison Terrace Bar & Lounge

Bars and pubs St Paul’s

What is it? A surprising rooftop terrace bar in the One New Change shopping centre. It attracts a crowd of City slickers and hen nights (NB: costumes not allowed).

Why go? Brilliant close-up views of St Paul’s Cathedral, if you don’t mind generic house beats and a fair few suits (although, no guarantee these will still be in place with City offices mostly closed!). WFH: not all bad.

Open daily noon-1am from Apr 12.

Venue says Join us on our rooftop terrace from 12pm and tuck into seafood platters and steaks whilst taking in the best skyline London has to offer.

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Me London - Radio bar terraces by night
Me London - Radio bar terraces by night
Thierry Delsart

13. Radio Rooftop

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Aldwych

What is it? Radio Rooftop Bar high above the Strand has secured its status as one of central London’s prime rooftop drinking destinations. The terrace is like a slick Ibiza sun lounge – although you probably won’t find such plush blankets and patio heaters in the Balearic Islands. It can be a strange mix of people here, spanning the lad crew, old American tourists and fashionistas in funny hats.

Why go? Mainly for the views and the altitude. And to convince yourself that your lifestyle is a lot more chichi than it actually is, or that you’ve won a weird holiday. 

From May 17: Mon-Thu, Sun 7am-midnight; Fri-Sat 7am-2am.

 

14. Roof East

Things to do Stratford

What is it? Massive rooftop play space and bar, Roof East offers drinks, views, mini-golf, batting cages and hip hop lawn bowls (‘bringing the banter back to bowls’ *shudder*). Feed and yourselves from Cheeky Burger or catch a film under the stars, (make sure to pick the bottomless popcorn option).

Why go? If that little lot sounds like it’s right up your alley, it’s a good laugh. If not, probably avoid. 

Open now for bookings: from Apr 12: Mon-Fri 4pm-10pm, Sat-Sun noon-10pm. From Apr 22: Thu-Fri 4pm-10pm, Sat-Sun noon-10pm.

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