As summer kicks in and the days get longer, there is no better place to enjoy the city than in one of the top rooftop bars in London. You can enjoy not just fabulous cocktails but also fabulous food and drink in some of the best outdoor bars in London, plus the views are to die for.
Living in London is great and though we are in unprecedented times, I know when we are allowed out, we will be looking to take advantage of the British summer as best we can. There is no better way to do that than to meet up at some of London’s fabulous rooftop bars. So let’s dive into my list of some of the best.
First up is Radio Rooftop in Aldwych
What I love about this spot is it’s location across the street from Somerset House, the gorgeous neoclassical building located on the Strand and host to many wonderful cultural events.
Say you’ve been at Somerset House for a wonderful exhibit or festival, you can dash across the street to the Radio rooftop bar for fabulous views and a sophisticated vibe. It’s located at the top of the ME London hotel and offers stunning views of the Thames river and the London skyline. The cuisine is seasonal and locally sourced and the menu is all-day dining. I’ve been at different times and the DJ is great and it’s a perfect place to meet up and relax.
Number 2 is Madison Terrace Bar & Lounge
I love this place because it has such a Miami vibe and you literally feel like you could be anywhere in the Mediterranean. But you will definitely know where you are given that St. Paul’s Cathedral looms massively in clear sight. You literally do not get better or more close up views of the cathedral’s drum, upper balustrade and dome.
With its location in the city atop the shopping complex One New Change, it is a popular location for lawyers and bankers. You can enjoy a wide selection of cocktails, spirits and beer. During the summer there are deck chairs out with outdoor projector screen to watch Wimbledon and other major events.
Next we’re going to talk about Sushisamba Bar
Located on the 38th floor of the Heron Tower in Liverpool Street, you will ascend to be eye level with the Gherkin, London’s iconic egg shaped building that is instantly recognizable. If you head up to the indoor bar and restaurant on the 39th floor you’ll also have great views of the Thames and beyond as well as up close to the Gherkin.
The circular bar snakes around the focal point – a tree sculpture with pretty orange leaves. They make a mean cocktail, but the restaurant is most famous for its fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine – definitely one to visit!
The Trafalgar St. James Rooftop in Charing Cross
As rooftop views go, this one is special. The bar on top of the Trafalgar Hotel is in the direct eye line of 169 ft. Admiral Nelson statue in the centre of Trafalgar Square along with National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery just behind. A few of their cocktails are named after London spots such as the Skyline which is a pink twist on a pisco sour, or Soho Sunset which is a gin mix with champers on top.
The set up has boxed-in spaces with retractable roofs, or there is the open air space under heaters and blankets for a chilly night. They also offer a bottomless brunch menu, so be prepared to spend a bit of time there.
The Boundary, Shoreditch
Continuing on with the list, at number 5 I am loving the Mediterranean vibes of the rooftop bar of the Shoreditch Hotel, called The Boundary. You’ll be surrounded by the views of the city and east London from the stylish rooftop terrace. With floor to ceiling glass in the heated glass orangery, you can enjoy casual lunches, after work drinks, lovely dinner or late night cocktails. If the weather is really pleasant, you can head to the rooftop garden to relax and enjoy your bubbles or wine.
During spring and summer the cuisine is inspired by the Mediterranean with grilled meats and fish, simple yet delicious salads and other southern French delicacies. During the winter months, the inspiration is the Alpine region and on offer will be fondue and melting raclette with hot cocktails to warm you up.
Coming up next is Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Top Garden, Southbank
On top of Queen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank Centre is an oasis in the middle of central London. This lush garden has lovely wildflowers, fruit trees and beautiful views of the Thames and the amazing skyline. The space was created in 2011 to celebrate Festival of Britain’s 60th anniversary and its design was brought together in partnership with The Eden Project.
It’s maintained and looked after by GroundEco Therapy, a group of volunteers who have experienced homelessness, addiction and mental illness. It’s free to visit and relax and the bar brings the drinks, so just bring yourself and perhaps a small blanket to lay out on.
Alto at Selfridges, Oxford Street
I’ve talked a lot in the past about the incredible diversity of department store Selfridges, including its massive food hall and multiple restaurants, bars and cafes in addition to the amazing clothes and household items. Make sure to check out my video on the best shopping streets in London for a collection of my favourite shopping in London.
Though known for its shopping, I bet most of you wouldn’t have guessed it also has a lovely rooftop restaurant and lounge. Well, there is and it’s called Altos, an Italian restaurant and rooftop sanctuary. As you come up the dedicated elevator/lift you are transported into a lush green tunnel that leads to the alfresco restaurant with hanging vines, flooring, wicker chairs and large windows that truly make you feel like you are somewhere in the Mediterranean.
The roof is fully retractable so you can enjoy it year-round. There is additional outside lounge space that has a few striped cabanas where you can tuck in for a colourful and tasty cocktail or sit in the open space and catch some rays. I wouldn’t say it has the most fabulous views but it’s a great location on Oxford Street, especially if you’ve just been shopping downstairs.
Rounding out our list is Aviary in Finsbury Square
Billed as London’s premier rooftop bar, restaurant and terrace, this chic and sophisticated space is on the 10th floor of the Montcalm Royal London House Hotel in Finsbury, near Moorgate and Liverpool Street. They have an eclectic mix of sofas, tables and chairs and is a popular go-to spot for those working in the area. But more than just a watering hole, they offer breakfast, lunch and dinner expertly curated by their renowned chefs using specially sourced ingredients. Of course, they offer a wide selection of cocktails and drinks so you can indulge in style.
So what did you think of my top 8 list of best rooftop bars in London? I hope it gives you a great list of options when the lockdown eases.
If you want to discover more of London and the great things to do around this fabulous city, then make sure to download my Living in London Guide where I’ll share not just top tips for culture and experiences, but also best places to consider living.