London’s Best Rooftop Bars
Just Opened London’s ‘Best of’ series covers a combination of recently opened venues and established London favourites, to make sure you get the full lowdown on where to spend your time and hard-earned cash.
London summers are all about elevated drinking sessions on a sexy rooftop bar. From a futuristic Las Vegas to a roller disco, here’s our pick of the city’s best sky-high terraces.
The John Lewis Gardening Society: Summer of Sound on The Roof
One of London’s largest roof gardens is back for another year and this time it’s all about live music. The newly landscaped rooftop is playing host to a summer of sound curated by industry heavyweights Sonos, Ruark Audio and Naim. Live gigs, DJ sets and acoustic performances will take place up on the roof of the famous Oxford Street department store so you can relax or revel while shoppers bustle below.
This year the drinks are in the very capable hands of tonic specialists Fever Tree, so gin is the order of the day. Fried chicken comes from one of our favourite street food vendors: Butchies. Do not miss out on the Butchies Hot Chicken if spice is your thing – buttermilk chicken is dusted with their own special hot coating and served in a bun with pickles and hot sauce.
The John Lewis Gardening Society, John Lewis, 300 Oxford Street, W1C 1DX. Open: May 5th
Queen of Hoxton
Set on the fringe of the City, this teetering rooftop bar offers views of the urban jungle. These aren’t the best sights you’re going to get, but this place is a great party bar, reinvented by a new playful theme each summer (and winter too).
This year the theme is futuristic Las Vegas. There’s a Wedding Chapel where can get married to your mates by Drag King, Elvis Vegas vending machines (stocked with everything from beers to wedding/divorce packages), roller coaster cart seating, a vegan vs meat US food menu – plus lots of booze, naturally. Cocktails like the Neva Colada (toasted coconut rum, peanut soda, banana butter syrup, coconut water) are on tap.
Queen of Hoxton, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY. Open: 3rd May
Pergola On The Roof
The green rooftop oasis is back again for the summer, set on top of the old BBC Television Centre in White City. Food faves Bonnie Gull and Patty & Bun are up here, and once you’re full up on the good stuff, you can stretch out on one of the 13-person day beds — next 20 degree-zer day you know where to find us!
P.S The Pergola team also launched Pergola Paddington Central last year. This one’s more like a mega terrace than a rooftop but it has all the same glorious Pergola fun, with a canal-side view to boot.
Pergola on The Roof, White City: Multi-Story Car Park, Television Centre, Wood Lane, W12 7RJ. Open: now
Skylight at Tobacco Dock
Skylight at Tobacco Dock claims to be the largest rooftop bar in London and who are we to argue when it’s got three floors of bars, street food, live entertainment, croquet, pétanque, screens, DJs and an unrivalled view of London’s iconic skyline?
Street food trader Yiro is serving up global flavours on the lower levels while the bars focus on making cocktails from an updated seasonal list including a watermelon mojito.
Skylight at Tobacco Dock, Pennington Street Car Park Entrance, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Open: 3rd May
This one is on top of the Montcalm hotel on Finsbury Square (between suit city and Shoreditch). Slick and shiny, it’s perfect date material — up on the 10th floor, it’s all glass windows and sweeping city vistas of the Gherkin and The Shard (even the views from the toilets are stunning).
There’s also plenty of space on the outdoor terrace where they serve up the summer’s hottest (for want of a better word) drink, Frosé (frozen rosé), along with frozen G & Ts.
Dalston Roof Park
This shabby chic rooftop is the summertime hangout for the Dalston cool crowd, with sprawling views of the East London rooftops. The astroturfed terrace has a big (ish) bar area down one end where there are many one-off events — from secret gigs to rooftop yoga.
There’s a retractable roof (bring it on, rain) and an extra tiki-style bar in case you suddenly feel the need for kitsch. There’s a pop-up rooftop cinema up here on some nights too along with legendary roof parties.
Dalston Roof Park, Bootstrap Company, 18 Ashwin Street, E8 3DL. Open: All summer
The rooftop bar we all go a bit crazy for, every year. Set up on top of a carpark in Peckham with Negronis and Vermouth cocktails sloshed into plastic glasses, rows of long makeshift sharing benches, vast concrete space and expansive views from south of the river.
It’s all good up here, apart from rainy days because there’s not much cover going on. Come early on Thursday-Saturday as the queues for this place get big, fast.
Frank’s Cafe, 10th floor, Peckham Multi-Story Carpark, 95a Rye Lane, SE15 4ST. Open: date TBC
OK everyone’s shouting about Frank’s, but what about this awesome Bethnal Green rooftop? It’s still rocking the rough and ready vibe, but here you’re less likely to have to queue. This astroturfed booze terrace comes with a generous amount of wooden benches and views of East London’s best bits.
Come along early doors at 10am where you can (pretend to) work while catching some summertime rays. Unfortunately, it’s not BYO like the good ‘ol days, they’ve gone and got a license now. On the plus side, no more lukewarm hangover wine from the box.
Netil 360, 1 Westgate St, E8 3RL. Open: During the summer
The Rooftop at The Trafalgar St. James
This classic rooftop has, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable city views. Located right on Trafalgar Square — The National Gallery, the Charles Statue… this is very much an old-school London skyline, away from the teetering skyscrapers in other parts of the city.
The Rooftop has now reopened after a huge makeover and has both alfresco and canopy covered seating for those unpredictable evenings (in your face, British weather). There are on-trend nibbles from the grill (we’ll have the Korean beef skewers, thanks) and a cocktail menu full of treats including the Soho Sunset made with Bathtub Gin, Champagne and basil.
The Rooftop, 2 Spring Gardens, Trafalgar Square, SW1A 2TS. Open: now
Roof bar doesn’t cover it, this place is more like a rooftop leisure centre, with urban lawn bowls, a roller disco and ‘London’s only batting cage experience’ (anyone know what that is?!) There’s also rooftop cinema, morning yoga classes and disco nights. Or maybe you just want booze with a view? Slip into a deckchair and get the beers rolling in.
Roof East, Floors 7 & 8, Stratford Multi-Storey Car Park, Great Eastern Way, E15 1XE. Open: 3rd May