London has lots of rooftop bars. Look: here are loads of the best ones. Supping on a cold boy, surveying the city from on high as the sun goes down. Nothing quite like it.
You know what makes a rooftop bar particularly good? A decent rooftop. Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many rooftop bars in London are sited on glorified fire escapes, affording drinkers sweeping views of alleyways, hospital car parks and the Lidl goods-in entrance.
What follows is the five (or six, depending on how you count) rooftop bars with the best views of the capital.
Madison Terrace Bar & Lounge
Picture it: London, 2021. You’re crossing your arms behind your back, Sherlock-style. You survey the city beneath you, then fix your gaze straight ahead. You’re looking at the curve of a gorgeous dome – it’s St Paul’s. Then you sit back down and order a Barrel Aged Rum Old Fashioned from the Madison Terrace Bar & Lounge’s drinks menu. Is there a more perfect way to spend an evening in the city? And did you know it’s a ‘protected view’? It is actually illegal to not be able to see the cathedral from various vantage points across the capital.
Madison, New Change, EC4M 9AF.
The Standard Rooftop
There is, surely, no cooler New York-inspired spot in London than the Standard hotel in King’s Cross. You may think it’s not as desirable because it’s not in town: you are wrong. The cocktails are top quality and pretty reasonably priced, for a hotel. But the view is dominated by the St Pancras Renaissance, right opposite. It's not a covered rooftop so you might have to pray to the sun gods but the place even serves up Manhattan-style hotdogs from a cart. How can you resist?
The Standard, 10 Argyle St, WC1H 8EG.
Frank’s Café and Bussey Rooftop Bar
These are two venues that share the same stunning view of the city, in, we reckon, London’s coolest neighbourhood, Peckham. The views of the skyline are virtually unobstructed and you’ll want to spend a long old evening in this tropical oasis. At the Bussey, do not miss the Share a Slice pizza – this Pop Brixton social enterprise donates a pizza for each one you buy to its food drive. Frank’s, though, wrote the book on south London up-high drinking, and it’s back for the sunny (better be!) summer. Don’t get distracted by the most-snapped staircase in the city (it’s pink, okay, we get it). Eyes on the prize: order a Joan Collins, darling, or a spiced lemonade and take a look across the rooftops.
Frank's Cafe, Bold Tendencies, 7th-10th Floor, Multi-Storey Car Park, 95a Rye Lane, SE15 4ST.
Bussey Rooftop Bar, Roof B Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST.
In regular times, this bar in Moorgate would be full of braying City boys, slamming another ton on the company credit card. But now, well, it might be a bit quieter – and those who might have been put off should definitely give it a look. The views are stupendous. There are two huge statues of peacocks. The vibe is very leafy, with the blues and greens of the modernist geometric-patterned sofas. You won’t want to miss the classic cocktails but if you fancy making like a banker, get a good old reliable glass of champagne. You deserve it.
Aviary, Royal London House, 10th Floor, Montcalm, 22-25 Finsbury Square, EC2A 1DX.
In an old council college and office block on the corner of Mare Street and Westgate Street, Netil House combines 90 studios with public spaces in which it holds film screenings, exhibitions and the like. The Platform Cafe and Bar has its own terrace, but the Netil 360 roof terrace, with its panoramic sweep of the whole city (and London Fields), is the big attraction. Be warned: it’s the full nine flights of stairs to get to the roof bar.
Netil 360, 1 Westgate St, E8 3RL.
All the other best rooftop bars in the city of London.
Don’t like heights? How about one of the capital’s best beer gardens instead?