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The Bussey Building
Photo: Rob Greig

London’s best rooftop bars

Our favourite London spots for sinking a few bevvies high above the madding crowds

Written by
Laura Richards
,
Sarah Cohen
&
Angela Hui
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From swanky City skyscrapers to informal warehouse hangouts, Londoners have always really, really loved rooftop bars. Even in the colder months, that blessed combination of wicked city views and lovely drinks ticks our collective boxes, whether it's in hippest Shoreditch or buzzing Soho and Covent Garden. Time to soak up some sunsets (perhaps while wearing a very big coat). 

A lot of these places are always in high demand, so we recommend booking tables as early as you can, although some of these bars are walk-in only.

Fancy a square meal high up in the air? Check out London's best rooftop restaurants.

Prefer to keep your feet on the ground? Here are London’s best beer gardens

 

The best rooftop bars in London

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Stratford
  • price 4 of 4

What is it? Whether or not your budget stretches to actual jet-setting, you can get 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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho

What is it? Two terraces that work as slick and moody sunset spots.

Why go? Less about the views and more about the booze. Enjoy exotic cocktails on high.

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  • Restaurants
  • Moorgate
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? A roomy, open-air, tenth-floor terrace which brings all the City workers out from their offices.

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

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Waterloo
  • price 2 of 4

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

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

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Big Chill House
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • King’s Cross

What is it? The King’s Cross branch of this buzzy bar harbours one of the area’s best rooftops – an expansive, attractive space with wooden shacks.

Why go? Graze on modern pub grub such as halloumi fries and bulging burgers, plus boozy brunches on sunny weekends.

  • 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? The kitchen offers Mediterranean grub, even if the London climate doesn’t always match it.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Peckham

What is it? A Peckham rival to Frank’s Café that’s open in the spring and summer. But it still has heaters and blankets, ’cos you know how unreliable our spring and summer weather is.  

Why go? For a huge cocktail menu, with decent virgin options. And for every pizza ordered from the rooftop’s resident kitchen, Share a Slice, one will be donated to someone in need. Reduced-guilt pizza!

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Bank

What is it? Half the City heads up here in summer, and although many come for its restaurant, the bar also slings out a solid number of Pornstar Martinis.

Why go? Coq d’Argent’s verdant rooftop garden has a neatly trimmed lawn, trailing vines, a ringed walkway and stunning London-wide views.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Aldgate
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? You’ll get double the gherkin at this idyllic spot near the famous pickle-shaped office block, since The Culpeper’s rooftop space is used to grow veggies for its kitchen.

Why go? The cocktails from the cute greenhouse bar are of real quality and pack in loads of herbs from the neighbouring beds.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Dalston
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? E8’s happening rooftop bar with a cause that has snowballed into a multi-faceted events space. 

Why go? It’s closed in the winter, but from June onwards, expect natural wines, beer from 40ft and pizza from Gordos, along with film screenings, day parties and club nights.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Wine bars
  • Peckham
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A spin-off bar from the folk behind Italian restaurant Forza Win (see what they did with the name there?).

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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Peckham
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Peckham’s most popular summer-only bar, unglamorously perched on a multi-storey car park.

Why go? Frank’s has gained cult status, and its reopening in late May kind of heralds the start of summer. Head up for a Campari at sunset and to check out always-interesting art installations.

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Golden Bee
  • Bars and pubs
  • Shoreditch

What is it? This rooftop bar in Shoreditch has a bit of an Ibiza feel (plus pollution) with its palm trees, rattan furniture and DJs playing out house hits. 

Why go? Happy-hour cocktails and buckets of beer, plus customers who bring the craic.

  • 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’.

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The Loft
  • Bars and pubs
  • Wimbledon

What is it? The Alexandra, a south London all-rounder, has a roof terrace that’s the pride of SW19 and has a burger menu and a craft beer range.

Why go? Although only open from springtime, The Loft has patio heaters, a sheltered bar and lots of seats to squabble over.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • London Bridge

What is it? A 200-capacity venue that’s a good place to get in a few bevs and soak up those rays. When they arrive.

Why go? For big-screen sports, pints, cocktails, views of the Shard and the river, Spanish food, DJs and lads (we assume). NB: the bar is six storeys up and there’s no lift.

 

 

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  • 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? For brilliant close-up views of St Paul’s Cathedral, just ignore the generic house beats and suits.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Fitzrovia
  • price 3 of 4

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

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.

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Netil360
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • London Fields

What is it? A Hackney rooftop bar up nine flights of stairs (there’s no lift). But boy, when you get up there, it’s simply divine.

Why go? To drink and dance your way around the panoramic bar and garden for full-circle views of our fair city. And there are saunas!

NT’s Loft
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • London Fields
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? The indoor/outdoor space above Netil House is taking group bookings. Entertainment comes from DJs and live jazz acts.

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.

 

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Pergola Paddington
  • Restaurants
  • Pop up restaurant
  • Paddington

What is it? A leafy bar that offers a mixture of open-air spaces and sections covered by a see-through perspex roof.

Why go? There are DJs every weekend, bookable day beds, cocktail menus and bottomless brunch on Sundays. You’ll also find a great, occasionally changing, menu that features street-food classics like fried chicken and burgers. 

Prince of Wales Feathers
  • Bars and pubs
  • Pubs
  • Warren Street
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A brightly painted first-floor drinking terrace at a modern Fitzrovia pub.

Why go? A skyward space is a rare asset in this part of town.

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  • Clubs
  • Shoreditch

What is it? The downstairs bit of this grungy bar and club is better suited to nocturnal drinking, but the partially covered rooftop space is bright and airy.

Why go? For beer and burgers in a colourful space. Head downstairs for parties and shows.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Aldwych
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Radio Rooftop Bar, high above the Strand, has secured its status as one of central London’s prime high-altitude 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 elevation. And to convince yourself that your lifestyle is a lot more chi-chi than it actually is – or that you’ve won a weird holiday. 

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Roof East
  • Things to do
  • Stratford

What is it? Every summer this massive rooftop play space and bar offers drinks, views, mini golf, batting cages and hip-hop lawn bowls (‘bringing the banter back to bowls’ *shudder*). Feed yourselves from street-food vendors or catch a film under the stars.

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

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 eyeline 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? You can probably justify the elevated prices here as that view is pretty spectacular.

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Sabine Rooftop Bar
Photograph: Sabine

Sabine Rooftop Bar

What is it? A botanical themed rooftop bar on the seventh floor of the Leonardo Royal Hotel. The outdoor terrace embraces a Love Island aesthetic, but comes with a retractable roof, because Mallorca this is not.

Why go? Top tier bar snacks. Plus, the only way you’d get any closer to St Paul’s is if you were ringing the bells.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Craft beer pubs
  • Caledonian Road
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? There’s a secret beer garden on the roof of this small but handsome, wood-panelled pub.

Why go? It’s not the most glossy or bucolic spot, but it’s a handy retreat from the comings and goings of King’s Cross station, with ample parasol-laden benches.

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  • Things to do
  • Quirky events

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

Why go? Multiple seating options – open-air, outdoor but covered and heated, igloos, huts etc – and a range of activities that changes throughout the year, including ice skating, pétanque, table tennis and croquet.

  • Hotels
  • King’s Cross

What is it? A spring- and summer-only astroturfed eleventh-floor terrace bar at the first venue outside of the US from hip hotel group The Standard. 

Why go? For an up-close view of the Gothic spires of St Pancras International just opposite, and to dance and drink the night away to live music and DJs with a New York vibe.

 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Liverpool Street

What is it? Sky-high rooftop bar on the thirty-eighth floor of the City’s Heron Tower, named the Tree Bar thanks to the prettily lit tree at its centre.

Why go? On sunny days it attracts crowds like Rio Carnival, but it’s worth the scrum for the serious cocktails and sensational widescreen views.

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