At first glance, London might not seem like the best city for drinking alfresco. The streets are brimming with top bars and cosy pubs, but where do you go for a pint when the sun is shining? The rooftops, of course.
Indeed, some of London’s best bars are found perched on the top of buildings, but their lofty locations mean you won't just stumble upon these gems. Hidden amid the capital’s dramatic skyline is a world of pretty terraces, preened English gardens and hipster hangouts which aren’t visible from street level. Take a look over our list of the best rooftop bars in London – just keep your fingers crossed for sunshine.
Skylight is a lively place for a sunset drink in Wapping © Skylight
If the sweeping vistas of London aren’t enough, there are oodles of lawn games – like croquet and pétanque – to while away summer evenings at Skylight on the roof of Tobacco Dock in Wapping. If you’re feeling organised, comfy day beds are available to pre-book, but walk-ins are welcomed too.
Looking down over London Fields and a busy evening at Netil360 © @rayxvisuals
Based above Netil House in London Fields, Netil360 is a laid back and roomy rooftop with panoramic views across the city. On the bar you’ll find locally brewed beer and wines from around the world, and on the decking you might be lucky enough to meet Tres, the friendly resident rooftop pooch.
Roof East makes the most of a prime spot on top of a Stratford Shopping Centre © Roof East
Roof East is less a rooftop bar, more a rooftop adventure playground, complete with batting cages, crazy golf, bowling and heaps more. Based on top of Stratford Shopping Centre, it’s a fun and casual affair, carefully curated with recycled pallets, scaffold, and retro deckchairs. Antics are fuelled by a changing roster of street food stalls and no less than three bars.
Set on the rooftop of a car park in Peckham, Frank’s Cafe is just one part of the not-for-profit project by Bold Tendencies. Frank’s Cafe has established itseslf as an institution since it opened in 2009, not least for its ambitious programme of art, music, literature and theatre events. Be sure to visit their on-site exhibitions while sipping on a negroni from the bar.
The Boundary in Shoreditch is a relaxing place to kick back outdoors © The Boundary
The Boundary Rooftop Bar & Grill
With comfy wicker seating, leafy plants and a cosy open fireplace, it’s no wonder tables fill up quickly at Shoreditch's Boundary Rooftop. Pitch up early to bag a sofa in the sun, and order a selection of Mediterranean-inspired sharing dishes to nibble on.
Queen of Hoxton
A lively rooftop and good vibes are the main draws at this multi-level bar and club. Daytime drinks easily turn into all-night partying at the Queen, thanks to events like '90s-themed silent discos and summer BBQs. This summer they’ve gone big on the Mexican theme with pops of colour, giant frozen margaritas, and plenty of tequila.
Drinks with a view over the City skyline at the Culpeper © The Culpeper
There’s a stripped-back elegance to this old corner building in Whitechapel, which boasts a handsome pub on the ground floor, an acclaimed restaurant on the second, and a pretty roof terrace where the kitchen grow herbs, fruit and vegetables. It fills up quickly, but it’s not too painful to pop your name on the waiting list and prop up the bar while you wait.
Slick and polished, Aviary fills up quickly with a swanky city crowd. The drinks are expensive but delicious, the seating plush and preened. If you’re out to impress, head up to the 10th floor to sip a cocktail and drink in the views. Just be sure to arrive early to secure your spot in the sun.
Dalston Roof Park before the drinkers arrive © Dalston Roof Park
Dalston Roof Park
This once forgotten roof has been transformed by the Bootstrap Charity into a lush little oasis with flower beds, trees... and some astroturf. By night, the bohemian hangout comes to life as DJs play alfresco to an uber-cool crowd. Unless you’re a member, be prepared to pay a small entry fee (around £3) or buy a ticket in advance for one of their events.
Bussey Rooftop Bar
Peckham's Bussey Building is hugely popular live music venue, globally respected arts hub, and warehouse-style club. The cherry on top? A hidden retreat of festoon lighting, plants, and un-fussy drinks. Watch the sunset with a pick from the decent cocktail menu, or book tickets for a flick at their rooftop cinema.
Market Hall Victoria is a great shout if you're after central London rooftop space © Market Hall Victoria
Market Hall Victoria
Not only is Market Hall Victoria home to a selection of the most exciting food traders in the city, it’s crowned with a stunning rooftop bar that has a tempting menu of craft beers and summer spritz cocktails. Grab roti from Gopal’s Corner or an ice cream from Soft Serve Society, then head up top for some sunny terrace action.
Flight Club, Victoria
When it comes to whimsical rooftops in London, Flight Club Victoria hits the bullseye. The darts club has venues across the capital, but its Victoria branch scores top points, with decor ranging from eclectic to downright loopy. Some areas can be booked in advance (from around £100 minimum spend on food and drinks per 90 minute booking), but the rest of the seating in this free-to-enter bar is first come, first served.
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