While London may not be the tallest city in the world, it’s got its fair share of hidden rooftop bars waiting for savvy locals and travellers to discover them. With a diverse range of options from traditional British pubs to sophisticated cocktail specialists, we’ve gathered our favourite London rooftop bars below.
While Madison isn’t necessarily the highest rooftop establishment around, its atmospheric terrace and charming touches of greenery make it one of the best places to be when summer rolls around. Once you’ve finished chowing down on New York-inspired menu, move to a table outside and sip on one of their cheeky cocktails (Sex on the Roof, anyone?). Be warned though, you’ll have to dress up for this one.
Nearby tourist attractions: St Paul’s
Slip into the Double Tree Hilton and take the lift to The SkyLounge on the twelfth floor, where you’ll be able to drink in the London skyline (and a couple of sophisticated cocktails). Serving modern British cuisine and classic cocktails, it’s worth booking a table outside for dinner and drinks on a warm spring night. You’ll be able to watch the city come to life and illuminate sights like the Shard, Tower Bridge, Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Hailed by publications all over the world as one of the best rooftop bars in London, Vista has a lot to live up to and delights every time. Situated in Trafalgar Square at the aptly named Trafalgar Hotel, it’s a popular choice with tourists frequenting the area and serves a mean cocktail (try their signature vodka concoction Midnight at Vista). You’ll be able to watch the passersby below in Trafalgar Square as well as see all the way out to the London Eye and the imposing Houses of Parliament.
You never quite know what you’re going to get at the Queen of Hoxton. One day, the rooftop is a gigantic tipi filled with woodchips. The next, there’s an out of this world rainbow treehouse accompanied by graffitied cars. Regardless of the theme, this trendy bar is a favourite with young professionals and creative types looking to spend warm London nights sipping on cocktails. If you’re keen on making a night of it, they regularly hold dance nights and transform the ground bar into a dance floor.
Nearby tourist attractions: Brick Lane, Shoreditch, Spitalfields Market
Relax by the water of the River Thames at Rumpus Room, the Mondrian Hotel’s queen jewel. Located on South Bank, it’s a classy joint with couches perfect for curling up on with your friends. Try to make it there on a Wednesday when live music adds a current of creative energy to the atmosphere but be careful, if you show up with trainers, sportswear or flip-flops you’ll be turned away at the door.
As one of the tallest rooftop bars on the list, SushiSamba is located on the 38th and 39th floor of Heron Tower (where Duck and Waffle is also situated – a must-visit for any foodie visiting London). Go at night when its gigantic tree with its autumn coloured leaves is lit with twinkling fairy lights and be bold – the cocktail list is an adventurous one full of experimentation.
Nearby tourist attractions: The Gherkin
Make your way to Covent Garden’s Radio Rooftop Bar, where grabbing a table is always a mission but oh so worth it. While a night of cocktails at Radio Rooftop Bar comes with a hefty price tag, its unbeatable 360 degree view is worth it with views out to the Shard, Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and the London Eye.
Nearby tourist attractions: Covent Garden, the West End
Once you’ve wrapped up your shopping for the day on Oxford Street, take to its rooftops at Aqua Kyoto and unwind with a Japanese-inspired cocktail. Serving both food and an delightfully unexpected cocktail list, it’s always busy in the hotter months. At night, they light up their terrace with golden lanterns and cast an utterly romantic mood over every experience.
Nearby tourist attractions: Oxford Street, Soho
Looking for something a little more classically British? The Lock Tavern in Camden is a fantastic pub that has mixes tradition with the contagious rebellious spirit of the neighbourhood and if you get there early enough, you may be able to swing a table on its modest rooftop terrace. It’s perfect for escaping the Camden crowds and sneakily observing the antics of its colourful residents below – don’t worry if you can’t get a seat upstairs however, as there’s a fantastic beer garden as well.
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A new Aldgate hangout, at the top of the Dorsett Hotel, Jin Bo Law specialises in Asian-inspired cocktails with stunning views of the City. Sip on some of the capital’s best mixology as the sun sets over the river and relax high above the hustle and bustle of the streets below.
With a prime location in Waterloo, Bar Elba is an al fresco oasis in the heart of London. Named after the Mediterranean island Napoleon found himself exiled on, this party eden has become one of London’s favourite drinking spots thanks to stunning city views, instagrammable decor and delicious cocktails.
Nearby tourist attractions: London Eye, London Dungeon, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, Florence Nightingale Museum
Originally a partnership with Cornwall’s Eden Project, the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden is a leafy oasis in the middle of Southbank. One of London’s best-kept secrets, sit amongst the wildflowers and fruit trees as you take in views of the city across the river while sipping on drinks from their beautiful cafe and bar.
Nearby tourist attractions: Southbank, London Eye, London Dungeon, SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Perfectly located just off Oxford Street at the top of John Lewis, the Gardening Society is a firm favourite for locals and visitors alike. Partnering with different restaurants and bars throughout the Summer season, it’s the perfect pitstop after a day of shopping.
Nearby tourist attractions: Oxford Circus