London's best rooftop bars
With temperatures set to reach in excess of 30 degrees this bank holiday weekend, we’re bracing ourselves for the second coming of this summer’s heatwave - and we’re not complaining. Yes, we may have to resort to putting our bucket hats in the freezer. Yes, this may mean sweltering commutes (we’re looking at you Northern line). But it also means we can spend significantly more time than usual enjoying an alfresco tipple - and where better to do so than from on top of a tall building?
Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up our favourite picks of rooftop bars from across the capital so you can enjoy your sundowners with a view - before summer disappears for good.
Big Chill Bar
Head to the Big Chill for, well… chilled out vibes. With locally brewed beers, proper burgers and live DJs starting the party every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, this north London spot is the ideal place for an after work tipple. What’s more, their new ‘rose-tinted’ rooftop (which, btw, has been given a very Instaworthy lick of pink paint) is bringing the goods with pink items on both their food and drink menu. Pink gin-infused pancakes, anyone?
Providing a welcome retreat away from the bustle of Islington’s streets, the roof terrace of this charming neighbourhood pub is the ideal spot for soaking up some rays. The best part? When the stereotypically unpredictable Great British weather starts playing up, you can head inside and cosy up on the sofa.
Even if you haven’t been to Frank’s, you’ve probably had its iconic hot pink staircase splashed across your Insta feed all summer long. And there’s a good reason for that - it’s a damn cool place. With a winning cocktail menu, stripped back furnishings and panoramic views across the city, Frank’s is south London’s slickest suntrap.
When you’ve exhausted Frank’s, the Bussey rooftop is the place to go. Combining delicious food, strong drinks, stunning views and plenty of foliage on top of Peckham’s most iconic events space, this south London spot is not to be missed. And when the day turns into night? Head downstairs for a winning night out.
If its a stylish hideout you’re after, 12th Knot is your place. Sitting on the 12th floor of Sea Containers, Waterloo’s luxurious hotel-cum-restaurant-cum-spa, this rooftop bar offers some of London’s tastiest cocktails against a stunning riverside backdrop. Be warned: this is one best saved until payday…
A partnership with both Bombay Sapphire and Patrón Tequila? Say no more. With both the North and South terraces of this London institute being transformed into immersive spaces complete with bespoke cocktails and delicious sharing boards, there’s no better reason to round up a group of mates and head central. Expect summery gin tipples, spicy tequila concoctions and Mexican tapas boards - yum.
If there’s one thing you need to know about Bar Elba, it’s that is has a 2-for-1 happy hour from 4-6pm every Sunday to Wednesday. And a food menu featuring everything from hot wings to poké. And stunning views across Waterloo. You can thank us later.
Inject some glamour into your summer with a trip to Aqua Spirit’s rooftop bar. This swanky cocktail destination offers up drinks with a Japanease twist - think flavoured sakes and green tea infused liqueurs - served alongside tasty Asian snacks. The perfect place to soak up the sun on a Friday evening.
Bringing a rustic countryside feel to East London’s streets, the Culpeper’s rooftop terrace has a very special focus this year: wine. Showcasing some of the finest wines from producers Davenport Vineyards and Tillingham, both hailing from East Sussex, 2019 is set to be the year of the English tipple at Commercial Street’s hottest hangout. What’s more, Culpeper’s rooftop garden has been carefully curated to grow and evolve throughout the summer, with the food menu featuring the pub’s own home-grown produce. How’s that for sustainable?
It will come as no surprise that one of the hottest sushi bars in the capital (not to mention in several other cities, too) also has one of the coolest rooftop bars. Teetering above the hustle and bustle of the city on the roof of one of the capital’s tallest buildings, this classy hangout offers unbeatable views. Take a seat under the bar’s main focal point - its orange leaf adorned tree sculpture - and sip on one of their Japanese-inspired cocktails for ultimate summer vibes.
Queen of Hoxton
With a yearly changing theme, this east London rooftop is the gift that just keeps on giving. Inspired by the vibrant town of San Cristóbal in Mexico, this summers ‘Las Mexicanas’ theme promises frozen margaritas, tacos and tequila by the bucketload. Looking for a way to blow off some post-commute steam? Head upstairs to find the hangout of the ‘Luchadoras’ (A.K.A, Mexico’s hottest female wrestling clan) and learn a couple of moves to throw down in the ring.
Jin Bo Law
Head to the 14th floor of Aldgate’s Dorsett City Hotel for a couple of east London sundowners at sunset. Avert your eyes from the stunning view (which includes just about every major London landmark, from the Shard to the Gherkin) to peruse the tempting cocktail menu for a minute. Whether it’s rum cocktails or Japanese liquors you’re after, you won’t be disappointed.
Following the success of its Paddington location, Kensington Olympia’s got its very own Pergola – complete with seating for 500, three self-serve restaurants and two very well stocked bars. No doubt one of London’s prettiest rooftops (not to mention covered, should the heavens open), Pergola promises frozen cocktails, food vendors the likes of Honi Poke and Patty & Bun and all round good times.
Skylark Roof Garden
Brand new for 2019, the Skylark Roof Garden is west London’s answer to the numerous rooftop bars adorning the East London skyline. Perched on the 10th floor of an office building, the garden provides great views of Notting Hill, Little Venice and Paddington, and provides the ultimate backdrop against which to enjoy their deliciously fresh menu. Top tip: finish off your meal with a white chocolate martini for the ultimate decadence.
Looking for something do, pre rooftop drinks? Check out our guide to London’s best swimming spots here.