Things to do in London

Rooftop Bars London

It’s time to see London from a different perspective. Hint: It’s a lot of altitude and the ambiance to match.

Amongst all the things to do in London, set your list of the city’s best gastropubs aside, and see what these favourite rooftop bars in London have to offer.

Shoreditch & Hoxton

Once upon a time, leading lights such as Charles Dickens traipsed around Hoxton and neighboring Shoreditch. Now, the area has trendsetting boutiques, eclectic eateries, coffee shops a-plenty, and some of the best rooftop bars in East London.

1. Forza Wine

Say cin cin and cheers with your buds at Forza Wine, a rooftop bar dedicated to small bites and drinks that best pair with those not-so-simple snacks. The wine list is extensive and well-curated. It has an emphasis on low-intervention bottles that taste good just because they’re made with the right grapes and by the right people.

And then there's the inventive cocktails — if a Blackberry Sidecar and Olive Oil Washed Martini are wrong, we don’t want to be right.

Photographer: Kym Ellis

2. Queen of Hoxton

Shoreditch’s Queen of Hoxton is a rooftop experience with everything from bottomless brunch to drinks. It opens its arms to patrons 24/7.

There’s also dancing, so feel free to get limber with a little help from a Cheeky Tinto. This drink mixes merlot, Hennessy and apple. Or consider a Hot Mess, which features aged Havana rum, French chili powder, lime, passionfruit, and chili.

The Queens’ menu also has a few beers, ciders, wines by the glass, and alcohol-free canned cocktails that prove you don’t need booze to properly shake your tail feathers.

3. The Rooftop at One Hundred Shoreditch

The Rooftop at One Hundred Shoreditch delivers a panoramic view of London’s hippest, most artsy areas. The owners say they took inspiration for their bar from the very Cali feel of desert getaway Palm Springs, which makes signature cocktails such as their Pineapple & Coconut Spritz and Spicy Margarita make a lot of sense.

The liquor list is as long as a West Coast sunset, and there are some fancy sparkling wines on tap if you’re feeling particularly A-list.

4. Jin Bo Law

Climb the elevator at Hotel Saint and soar to the 14th floor where you’ll find Jin Bo Law. This outdoor space is a rooftop terrace bar that allows tipsy tourists and locals to gaze upon the Shard, the Walkie Talkie, and the famed Tower Bridge.

The cocktails are as inventive as they are plentiful. It may take you a minute or 2 to browse the 15-page menu and decide between quirky brews, such as Detox-Retox, which mixes Grey Goose vodka with spirulina, cloud apple juice, coconut water, and apple liqueur, or CBD Summer Spritz, which seeks to calm customers in more ways than one.

5. Savage Garden

Savage Garden is a mere 12 stories above the busy London streets below. The establishment's theatrical decor and spirited menu make it feel worlds apart from the corporate wilds just a stone’s throw away. Kick-start your own savage experience with some champagne, wine, beer, or cider, and then move on to the classic cocktail list.

Each drink has its own mini story or quote to accompany the recipe, such as The Queen’s Pipe, which demands a drink worthy of a royal reputation. The complex layers of lillet rose, tobacco liqueur, red port, amaro Montenegro, smoke, and oak bitters delivers.

Photographer: Ash Edmonds

Peckham

Peckham rhymes with Beckham, which immediately makes us think of soccer and British talent. But this region of London is more boho than sporty, and these rooftop bars are typically gathering places for young professionals, students, and families with startup homes who want to enjoy the street murals and all-for-one vibe.

6. Bussey Rooftop Bar

Known as the highest drinking spot in Peckham, Bussey Rooftop Bar is a high-flying tropical oasis in the middle of Britain’s star metropolis. The bar is covered to keep your summery cocktails free of the notorious London mist, and it offers a 360-degree view from the seating area.

Soak up the skyline and tuck into pizza made by Share A Slice. Pair it with a glass of prosecco, a passion fruit mojito, or the Caribbean-inspired Hit the Roof. The latter is a mixture of Koko Kanu rum, Eager pineapple juice, lime, and ginger beer, and it can be made alcohol-free using a boozeless can spirit.

7. Skylight Peckham

It’s time for small plates and some cocktails at Skylight Peckham. Tapas-style jamón serrano croquettes and heritage beetroots with harissa tahini yogurt demand equally sophisticated cocktails. Luckily, classics such as a perfect Manhattan and the tropically twisted The Only Wray is Up (watch out for that overproof rum) answer the call.

Skylight has live music on Thursdays, reminiscent of the vibrant London music festivals scene, and during the day the bar turns into a “hot desking” center. You can work with the London vista as your backdrop, answering emails while you demolish a pot of Earl Grey and some pastries.

8. Frank’s Cafe

Frank’s Cafe was ahead of the curve when it joined the rooftop bar scene in 2009 and required customers to climb up a car park stairwell. But the years have been kind. All those people who took a chance on a new concept spread the word about the cafe’s epic breathtaking view and tasty cocktails.

Snacks are simple and tasty, with a handful of snacks and a few main dishes, such as a grilled spiced cauliflower or a lamb breast kebab entrée leading the charge.

The drinks are no less captivating. Try something balanced and simple, such as a negroni or cucumber gimlet, or bring a group and go fully festive with jugs of can’t-miss beverages. Who doesn’t want to share a barrel of Pimm’s and lemonade with their pals?

Note: Frank’s Cafe closes during the winter and reopens in May.

City of London

Since 2011, Central London has officially served as a city subregion that houses the sought-after boroughs of Camden, Kensington, Chelsea, Islington, and Lambeth, among others. The prettiest rooftop bars in Central London have some incredible views and are among the trendiest hotspots in the Big Smoke.

Try these escapist rooftop bars that are as unique as us. 

9. Sky Garden (at the Walkie Talkie Building)

Most gardens are indisputably earth-bound — that’s kind of the way gardens work. But Sky Garden in the Walkie Talkie building is a landscaped paradise located high about London’s streets.

There’s plant life galore. Add an observation deck and four bars doling out refreshments to help you recover after you gasp in excitement taking in the 360-degree view.

Sky Pod Bar is open all day Monday through Sunday. Take your chance to view London by day and night, and the cocktails on the seasonal menu shift to match the holidays.

Plum Pudding, for example, is a gift worthy of Father Christmas, with Chivas Regal 12, DOM Benedictine, Noilly Prat Dry, vermouth, dark plum puree, cranberry, lemon bitters, and plum bitters swirling around like sugar plum fairies on Christmas Eve.

City Garden is open all day too, with a similar menu and view.

10. Madison

Madison is a modern European restaurant and bar that takes up the sixth floor of One New Change and extends onto the terrace for a view.

Drinks are fun and varied, with whimsical entries, such as Autumn In Japan (Roku gin, mixed berries shrub, elderflower liqueur, and egg whites), sharing the spotlight with a white chocolate martini topped with rose champagne, edible gold, and passion fruit.

The weekends bring bottomless rooftop brunches. The bar is known for hosting special events in honor of Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve, mezcal, and even the city of London itself.

Photographer: Rick Barrett

11. Roof Garden at Pantechnicon

The Roof Garden at Pantechnicon is tucked into a hidden corner of London’s Belgravia neighborhood, lighting the way for tipples and treats by allowing the sun to shine through the spacious windows and onto the heated terrace. This is the perfect spot if you’re looking for romantic date ideas in London!

The wine list is international, the food is as local as possible, and the handcrafted cocktails are downright scrumptious. For a special occasion, try a flight of Highland Park Whiskey and decide which of the 12-, 18-, and 21-year-old brews are the best, or opt for a specialty drink and let your fancy flag fly as you take in the night air.

While you're in the area, take a trek down the road to Royal Albert Hall — see if we have a show in town. Immerse yourself in the boundless and diverse stories that take you from your seat to a world you've never experienced before. 

12. 12th Knot at Sea Containers London

Ahoy! Down below — it’s the River Thames and the Illuminated River, a stunning display logged as the world’s longest public art commission. But up here, at the 12th Knot at Sea Containers London, the food menu is fresh and the alcohol is flowing.

Ask your server to bring out a parade of marinated olives, cured meats, blistered peppers, and sea bass ceviche tacos. It’ll all taste wonderous when you have a caviar-topped potato chip in one hand and a Mezcal Sling (pomegranate, chili, peach, cherry mezcal, DOM Benedictine, pineapple, Patron Silver, and lime) in the other.

London Bridge & Southwark

The rooftop bars near London Bridge and Southwark have a first-row seat for British history. This is an area where historic monuments peek out between trendy gastropubs and independent shops. Tourists are just as plentiful here as locals, which makes for nights out full of discovery, exploration, and novelty.

13. London Bridge Rooftop

It’s kind of funny to think about a bar that offers street food well above street level, but the grub at London Bridge Rooftop is no laughing matter. It offers fries and burgers upon burgers, as well as a couple of versions of English cheesecake that could easily make this a prime destination for after-dinner drinks and dessert.

And speaking of drinks, the booze menu is incredibly enticing with craft beef in cans, draft-pulled pints, bottled cider, and bespoke gin and tonics, and that's just the beginning of what London Bridge Rooftop has in store.

If you want to try something new, consider a Bridge Over the Brambles, with Bombay Sapphire, Chambord, Crème de Mûre, lemon juice, and sugar syrup — although The Punchy Pear and tongue-twisting Negroni Sour are total winners, too.

14. Aqua Spirit

Sprint up the stairs from Regent Street (or take the elevator, we won’t tell) and you’ll find Aqua Spirit, a Soho-based rooftop bar that’s actually two restaurants and two terraces in one. Japanese and Spanish culture and cuisine clash — in a good way — to create bites and brews that are intriguing in their ingenuity.

Where else in London can you order a sake-infused cocktail with dry sherry, elderflower, apple, and yuzu for the first round and a Spanish Garden with Ciroc vodka, dry Spanish white wine, fresh grapes, torn basil, green tea, and vanilla sugar for the second?

Kensington & Chelsea

When you think of Kensington and Chelsea, you probably think of royal drive-bys and a certain popular flower show. But this part of London is also home to Harrods, a bunch of museums, and roof bars that are equal parts fun and fancy.

15. The Culpeper

The pub at The Culpeper is on the building’s first floor, with a restaurant the next floor up, and a third floor devoted to rooms for let. But on the roof, there’s a garden that produces the fruits, vegetables, and herbs used by Culpeper cooks, and there’s space and an open invitation for pub-goers to bring the drinks out on the terrace and enjoy the view.

The roof is only four stories up, but getting to witness the garden firsthand and seeing how plants turn into pickles is priceless.

Photographer: Mgg Vitchakorn

16. Mercer Roof Terrace

Look to one side and you’ll spy the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Turn your head on a swivel and you'll see the eye-catching glare pitching forward off The Shard. Mercer Roof Terrace is an ideal place to eat, drink, and salute the London skyline.

Dine à la carte or order the set menu for lunch and dinner, then peruse a cocktail list brimming with herbs, spices, and fruits — some in combinations that date back to the Middle Ages.

Schedule a visit for the winter months, and see if you can’t snag a booking for the Mercer’s famed igloos. These see-through pods offer an alfresco experience even in frigid temps, bringing a little bit of the Arctic (plus tasty food and beverages) to the heart of London.

Paddington

Paddington is a one-time medieval parish turned bustling London borough. It’s perhaps best known for its eponymous train station and the similarly named bear, but it also has a couple of roof cocktail bars to which we give a hearty two thumbs up.

17. Pergola Paddington

Forget adjectives such as cozy, small, compact, and intimate — there's nothing remotely itty bitty about Paddington Central. In fact, this roof bar is the largest alfresco dining and drinking space in all of West London, with 850 seats and two bars.

Don’t worry — the terrace is heated — and there’s even a new roof on the top deck to help keep the elements out of your cocktail and hair.

Pergola has tons of special events on its calendar, including a memorable ode to Oktoberfest complete with musicians in lederhosen that seem right at home among the wood and vines.

18. Sabine Rooftop Bar

One of the newest entries on this list, Sabine Rooftop Bar has both a glass-domed roof and an outside terrace for guests to drink, dine, and gaze at St. Paul’s. Comfy chairs and flower-adorned railings make this spot feel like an oasis away from the hubbub of the city.

Bites include comfort food and globally inspired cuisine, such as gouda and bacon doughnuts and Lebanese chicken with roast biber peppers, flatbread, and ezme.

As for the cocktails, expect never-before-seen concoctions, such as Foggy Solution, a jaw-dropping elixir that starts with a Whistle Pig 10yo Burnt Butter Fat wash, followed by The Compass Box Peat Monster, Campari, and Cascara sweet vermouth. Yowza!

Hackney

Get out your drama and comedy masks, because like our performances, Hackney is a theatergoer’s dream. This region is home to the Hackney Picture House, a local theater that dates back to 2011. Take in a show or get some work done at a coworking space nearby, and head to one of these hip roof-top bars.

19. Netil360

Welcome to wide open spaces: roof edition. Much as the name suggests, Netil360 has a full, circular view of London, plus tush-friendly booth seating, heaters for chilly months, and drink specials, pizza deals, and live music on the regular. Don’t worry, though. The heaters aren’t on for the warm, summer months.

Much of the beer and spirit list comes from local brands, such as the East London Liquor Company and Five Points Brewery. It’s like drinking up Hackney culture while looking at the place where all that joy was made.

20. Dalston Roofpark

There’s a Victorian building to your left and a modern office structure to your right, but when you’re at Dalston Roofpark, all you need to concentrate on is the feeling of freedom in your head and the cocktail in your hand.

Here, you can fill up on soul food, including finger-lickin’ good chicken dripping in condiments, such as Peng hot sauce and gochujang mayo. Chase away the burn with bubbles, a draft beer, or a cocktail, and pretend your applause for enchanting London is really for the DJ performing just a few steps away.

Photographer: Tim Toomey

End Every Dinner and Drinks With a Show

London hosts some of the best rooftop bars, including many that offer an immersive experience saluting the city and serving up top-notch food and drinks at the same time. If you’re looking for something to do before dusk and it’s time to head to a lofty terrace, check out our list of our shows in London.

Submerge yourself in a surreal piece of artistry that will make you forget you're sitting in a theater seat — it'll be like you're right up there with us. You’re only one ticket away from breathtaking feats and endeavors you’ll never forget. 

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