When the sun is shining London comes to life, and alfresco restaurants and bars become a huge attraction. Emyr Thomas shares his tips on the best rooftop bars in London, so that you’re ready when the sun finally does shine through.
Aqua consists of two restaurants at the top of the former Dickens & Jones department store on Regent Street, with over 250 seats in total. Aqua Nueva serves contemporary Spanish food while Aqua Kyoto features Japanese cuisine.
Both restaurants have a large and impressive roof terrace, both of which are deservedly popular destination in the summer months and offer two of the best rooftop bars in London.
The Sanctum Soho is an edgy but glamorous boutique hotel in Soho. The rooftop garden has a 24-hour residents’ bar complete with open-air hot tub, ideal for some hedonistic fun. Along with the adjoining indoor bar, the roof terrace makes a great event space. There are even two bedrooms on the same floor for those who can’t make it to the lift.
Rooftop at the Boundary, Shoreditch
One of the latest venture from Prescott & Conran, the rooftop restaurant at The Boundary, a 48-seat grill, has 360° views of London and includes a designer garden, a large bar, an open fireplace and luxury blankets for the chilly evenings. The Rooftop at the Boundary is one of the best rooftop bars in London.
Kensington Roof Gardens
Located one hundred feet above Kensington High Street in central London, The Roof Gardens and Babylon restaurant are truly spectacular. There are three themed gardens, with over 70 full size trees, a flowing stream stocked with fish and the resident flamingos.
Vista at The Trafalgar Hotel
The revamped rooftop at The Trafalgar Hotel, which has recently doubled in size, is right by Trafalgar Square and has some of the best alfresco views of London’s landmarks and statues, with Nelson’s Column almost at eye level.
The rooftop bar serves a selection of tapas plates, salads and sharing platters. Reservations can be made up to seven days in advance for a minimum number of six, but a £5 cover charge and minimum spend applies. With such a central location and views of iconic landmarks, this is one of of the best rooftop bars in London.
Century is a private members’ club in the heart of Soho, with access via a discreet doorway on Shaftesbury Avenue, which has recently had a full refurbishment and re-design.
The top floor has a lovely and intimate terrace area, which unfortunately is for members only, but membership is reasonable and the club has some good spaces to work and play all year round.
Situated in the heart of the Square Mile, Coq d’Argent has an outdoor terrace and a large and rather beautiful garden terrace, with great views of some of London’s most well known landmarks, including St Paul’s Cathedral.
The restaurant serves modern French cuisine while the brasserie and terrace serve a lighter menu with more of a modern European hint. Get there early during the week and be prepared to queue for the glass lift as it’s a very popular destination with City workers, or visit for a more relaxed Sunday lunch on the weekend.
As well as having one of the best rooftop bars in London, Coq d’Argent is also one of the best alfresco restaurants in London.
The Driver is a mix of gastropub-style restaurant, members’ bar and rooftop terrace in King’s Cross, with a dining room that turns into a dance floor and a licence until 4am on the weekends. The rooftop terrace will be used for BBQs in the summer and can be hired for private events during the week.
The Soho Sky Terrace
The Courthouse Doubletree Hotel just off Regent Street has recently opened its 5th floor roof terrace, offering cocktails, afternoon tea from 3pm to 5pm daily, ‘BBQ favourites’ and light snacks. The Soho Sky Terrace is open to the public from 3pm to 10:30pm Tuesday to Saturday from late April until September.
Queen of Hoxton
Based in Shoreditch in the East End, the Queen of Hoxton is a haven for music fans, clubbers and art lovers. The rooftop bar has just emerged from a refurbishment and now resembles a suburban garden with decking, Astroturf and patio furniture, complete with a rum shack, a large BBQ area and panoramic views over London.
Paradise by way of Kensal Green
Paradise is a mix of gastropub, restaurant, cabaret venue and karaoke room with a rustic chic design and welcoming and cosy vibe in Kensal Green in West London. The intimate roof terrace is a perfect spot to spend the afternoon or for a sundowner cocktail after a lingering lunch in the restaurant.
Shoreditch House is a private members’ club, part of the Soho House Group, on the top three floors and roof of a renovated warehouse in Shoreditch, East London.
The rooftop bar, kitchen and lounge has recently been extended with the addition of the Garden and Lazy Lawn, but the highlight is still the 16 metre outdoor heated swimming pool.
The rooftop area is strictly for members only, but you can also check in to one of the 26 guest bedrooms to receive your temporary membership card and have full use of one of the best rooftop bars in London.
If you liked this top 10 feature to the best rooftop bars in London, why not read our guide to the most romantic restaurants in London, the best cocktail bars in London or the best alfresco restaurants in London?
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