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seabird rooftop
Photograph: Seabird

The best rooftop restaurants in London

Rooftop restaurants in London make for a dazzling setting for dinner in the clouds. Here’s a handful of the best up-high eateries

By Time Out London Food & Drink
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Food tastes better when you’re eating it in the sky. Come summer time, dining up on a roof is the ultimate London experience. From sushi joints and gastropubs to a herb garden in the City – we’ve rounded up the very best rooftop restaurants in town that are back open for business.

While tables at rooftop restaurants were already in high demand during spells of good weather, you can expect them to be more popular than ever, with outdoor spaces offering a little more safety for diners right now. You’re best off booking ahead (and if you do make a booking, be sure to stick to it or notify the restaurant in advance if you can no longer make it) and checking in with individual restaurants on the changes you can expect on arrival. Beyond that, it’s time to take in those views with your food.   

Rooftop restaurants in London

allegra at stratford
allegra at stratford
Photograph: Luke Hayes

Allegra

Restaurants Contemporary European Stratford

On the seventh floor of the fancy Stratford Hotel, Allegra is almost comically swish, with gently dimmed lighting, stone surfaces, funky plants and smooth jazz music. The food is great, though, from savoury choux bun snacks to poached Cornish brill and wild venison loin. Staff add to the glitz and glamour with friendly service – even pouring all the posh sauces for you.

Open: year-round

Aviary

Restaurants Global Moorgate

A smart bar/restaurant perched ten floors up at Finsbury Square’s Montcalm Hotel, Aviary’s got city views to die for. You can drink in the skyscraping panorama all year round – there are fire pits and heat lamps a-go-go to keep you warm in winter months (though you could just work through the cocktail list). The restaurant’s better set up for eating, but you can still snaffle the short bar menu alfresco if you prefer – think padrón peppers, Lindisfarne oysters, shorthorn cheeseburgers, duck-fat chips and so on.

Open year-round.

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Boundary Rooftop

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Shoreditch

Although there are only a few floors between the frenetic Shoreditch streets and Boundary’s inviting rooftop restaurant, the two seem worlds apart. Getting in was always a bun fight when the restaurant opened only seasonally – now, with a clever removable glass roof and wall panels in the orangery-style dining room, it pulls in the punters all year round. The Mediterranean menu heightens the holiday vibes: order grilled lobster with aioli fries to accompany your sundowners in summer or share a decadent raclette in winter.

Open year-round.

buck street market in camden
buck street market in camden
Photograph: Alexia Clarke

Buck Street Market

Restaurants Camden Town

It’s not a restaurant, per se, rather a collection of lots of them. Camden’s all-new container village has a rooftop court where you can grab from street-food residents like Lord of the Wings and Magic Falafe to chow down on high.

Open: year-round.

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The Castle

Restaurants Pentonville Road

As a one-storey Islington gastropub, the Castle doesn’t boast the highest rooftop in London (views are limited to the other low-rise buildings flanking Pentonville Road), but that doesn’t stop locals competing for a place when the sun comes out. The partially covered terrace has everything that hardcore all-weather diners require: heaters and blankets for winter (place your order inside); a Gin Gems Bar, Burger Shack and table service when the warm days begin. You must book a table here – and that’s not as easy as you might think.

Open year-round (weather dependent).

Coq d'Argent

Restaurants French Bank

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to Coq d’Argent’s four view-tastic terraces – just like every other City slicker in town. Book lunch on the restaurant terrace for a side of sunshine with your dover sole or roast rack of lamb. Otherwise, keep the bills in check by snacking on a cheeky miniature croque monsieur or some garlicky escargots from the bar menu on the garden terraces. There’s also an alfresco lunchtime grill – all the better for emptying your wallet and filling up on steak in the open air.

Terrace open year-round.

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Culpeper

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Whitechapel
The famous rooftop garden/bar attached to this excellent City gastropub-with-rooms is reborn every summer with a different foodie theme. Meanwhile, Culpeper’s green-fingered team will be nurturing and harvesting throughout the season, providing vital ingredients for dishes such as ash-roasted potatoes with sour cream, tropea onion and smoked garlic aïoli or herb-marinated Yorkshire pork neck steak. Look out for special events and workshops too.

Open in summer months. Food served Tuesday - Saturday noon-3pm, 6-9.30pm; Sunday noon-4pm.

The Lighterman

Bars and pubs Gastropubs King’s Cross

Sat on the corner of Granary Square (a foodie hotspot that’s also home to Caravan, Dishoom and so on), The Lighterman is an airy bar/gastropub with an even airier first-floor wraparound terrace overlooking the plaza and bordering the canal. It’s not technically on the roof, but it’s as good as – and an ideal place to hack through a lovely-sounding menu of modern British plates. Expect anything from pea and mint croquettes, flatbreads and salads to beer-battered fish and hunks of charred flesh sizzling from the wood-fired grill.

Open year-round.

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Marksman

Bars and pubs Gastropubs Hackney Road

A spruced-up roof terrace on the first floor of this cherished Hackney gastropub entices drinkers from its cosy interior out into the sun. On bright days, there’s space for around 20 on a first-come, first-served basis. Those lucky enough to bag a spot can enjoy booze and bar snacks or a full Marksman meal – try one of the much-lauded savoury buns, mussels with kohlrabi and wild fennel or a chicken, leek and tarragon pie (to share). Then watch those envious eyes glaring from the top of the number 55 bus as it rolls past.

Open year-round (weather-dependent).

No 32 The Old Town

Bars and pubs Clapham

No 32’s first-floor terrace (or ‘honorary rooftop’, as we like to think of it) has a relaxed, social feel thanks to its communal tables, tranquil views of Clapham Common and an indulgent menu that sees courgette crostini and crispy polenta squid lining up alongside burgers and kimchi fried rice. Try to time your visit for a bloody mary-fuelled breakfast, lazy Sunday roast or sundowner cocktails with sharing platters.

Terrace open early March-late November.

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Orrery

Restaurants French Marylebone

Here’s some good news for anyone partial to a central London rooftop: Orrery’s chic, sleek terrace, hidden from Marylebone’s madding crowds, is an all-weather zone. The long, narrow alfresco space with its bright yellow awnings offers a lunchtime carte full of delicate modern European dishes, featuring dishes such as seafood ravioli or Jerusalem artichoke risotto. Not hungry? Just enjoy a cocktail or two as the sun goes down.

Open year-round.

London - Sunset View
London - Sunset View
Jonathan Reid

OXO Brasserie

Restaurants British South Bank

Eight floors above the South Bank, Oxo might not dish up rooftop dining per se, but it offers more height, fresh air and feelings of space than many of the capital’s rooftop terraces. There are corking views of the Thames and its landmark buildings, plus modern European food. There’s no heating out there, however, so time your visit carefully.

Open year-round (weather-permitting).

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seabird rooftop
seabird rooftop
Photograph: Seabird

Seabird

Restaurants Seafood Southwark

Southwark’s Hoxton Hotel is home to ‘sea-to-table’ restaurant Seabird, which has a delightful terrace and indoor tables with a view – plus sunny California vibes aplenty. A Med-influenced all-day menu includes the likes of croquetas, peri-peri monkfish and leeks in romesco sauce. And it would be rude not to oder from an oyster list claiming to be London’s longest.

Open: year-round.

'Smiths' of Smithfield Farringdon

Restaurants Contemporary European Farringdon and Smithfield

Three floors of fun and games in the City, Smiths of Smithfield has been given a bit of a freshen-up by its current owners Youngs Brewery – and it looks tickety-boo. Those hankering after that singular rooftop experience should bypass the ground-floor bar and head up to the Number 3 restaurant on the Top Floor, with its lovely outdoor terrace and views of London’s towering landmarks. Eat from a menu of well-crafted modern Brit dishes featuring plenty of prime red meat from the nearby market and gussied-up ideas such as lemon sole with cockles, preserved lemon and charred romanesco.

Open year-round.

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Sushisamba restaurant aerial shot and views of london
Sushisamba restaurant aerial shot and views of london
Ming Tang-Evans

Sushisamba

Restaurants Brazilian Liverpool Street

Previously only open for walk-ins in fine weather, Sushisamba’s sought-after dining terrace is now taking bookings while its indoor restaurant stays closed. Needless to say, the views are incredible. Sushi in the sun with views of one the world’s greatest cities: that’s about as good as it gets.

Open year-round.

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