Take your pick from London's chic hotel bars, riverside hotspots and casual city centre spots to relax and take in the evening breeze where the view is everything. Whether your tipple of choice is Pimms, Prosecco or a pint, raise your glass to some of our favourite London rooftop bars.
Radio Rooftop Bar at ME Hotel
The uber-cool ME Hotel on the Strand is the epitome of style, and the Radio Rooftop Bar is its fitting destination with views over London’s skyline. With white sofas on the open terrace (offering patio heaters and rugs in case things get chilly) it’s been a magnet for an evening cocktail. Daytimes now have an added appeal: the bar has a new weekend brunch menu complete with a special ‘Do it your bloody self, Mary’ station, to mix your own perfect Bloody Mary.
Roof Garden at John Lewis
After a busy day shopping on crowded Oxford Street, the Roof Garden on the top floor of department store John Lewis provides you with a peaceful retreat, complete with astro-turf, Caribbean-themed décor and flower gardens. Lunch on pizza from Rossopomodoro where you can also enjoy an early-evening cocktail. The views might not be the biggest draw here, but the convenient location certainly is.
The Roof Gardens in Kensington
The leafy oasis high up above Kensington High Street is transformed into a nightlife hotspot. The landscaped space, with hideaways, pagodas, palms and flamingos, is a space you can sip a cocktail on the terrace, or enjoy it for longer at Babylon Restaurant. Now owned by Sir Richard Branson, it was created in 1936 and inspired by the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
Vista at The Trafalgar
With a backdrop of Nelson’s Column in the midst of Trafalgar Square, you’re at the exact point of central London at this open-air rooftop bar at The Trafalgar hotel. This summer, try their new V-NoTea twist on the afternoon tea, or take gin cocktail masterclass. Lunch menu includes bratwurst and pulled pork wrap.
Queen Elizabeth Roof Gardens Bar, South Bank
In the busy South Bank, close to cultural hubs including the National Theatre and Southbank Centre, look out for the yellow steps that lead you to a tucked-away rooftop garden with lawns and wild flowers. Here, you can enjoy food at the café bar run by the Company of Cooks and admire the mini allotments. No frills here – it’s all about mismatched chairs, picnic blankets and rambling wild flowers under the gaze of the London Eye and overlooking the River Thames.
Upper Deck Bar, HMS Belfast
In the shadow of the great warship HMS Belfast, moored in the middle of the Thames, this neat terrace bar on the roof of the visitors centre is the perfect spot to enjoy a sundowner with an eyeful of Tower Bridge. With an awning to protect from the midday sun (or more likely the rain) the bar serves light meals including seafood and cheese platters. Take a seat facing east and gaze at some of London’s best landmarks.
You’ll be dressing up smart for the destination restaurant and bar SushiSamba, famed for its Japanese and Brazilian cuisine on the 38th floor of Heron Tower. But boy, what views. From the terraces, it seems like you’re in touching distance of The Shard and The Gherkin, as you sip your exquisite cocktail and indulge in a spot of people-watching.
OXO Tower Bar
The sleek OXO Tower, in all its art deco glory on the Thames, has a few precious seats on the terrace where you can see the north bank of the river stretching from St Paul's Cathedral to Westminster. It's a stylish venue, with a fine dining restaurant and more casual brasserie.
Soho Sky Terrace, Courthouse Hotel
Recently refurbished, this stylish rooftop terrace at the top of busy Carnaby Street is open throughout the summer. There’s a decent wine list and cocktails including passionfruit mojito, and a food menu of Italian antipasti platter and no-nonsense thick cut chips – although the white truffle oil indicates its attention to culinary detail.