The Best Rooftop Bars in London

The Best Rooftop Bars in London

Just as The Drifters sang, everything is all right up on the roof. More than all right: London now boasts an impressive array of high-rise venues offering the height of good drinking. From City skyscrapers and Shoreditch DJ bars to riverside terraces and top-floor gardens, here are our 10 favourite rooftop bars in London.

Radio Rooftop bar
Radio Rooftop bar

Radio Rooftop Bar
Book ahead to avoid the queues for this hotel bar, which can sometimes match altitude with attitude. Make it up to the 10th floor though and 360-degree views are the pay off, stretching from the Shard and St Paul’s downstream to the London Eye and Big Ben up west. Classic tapas (pimientos de Padrón, croquetas de jamón) reflects ownership by the Spanish ME chain, as do nine spins on the G&T, Spain’s favourite tipple – although making a magnum of Belvedere vodka the centrepiece of your table might be a better fit for the Ibiza beach club vibe of it all. Daytimes – weekend brunches and Champagne afternoon teas – are less hectic. ME London, 336-337 Strand, London, WC2R 1HA

Oxo Bar
Oxo Bar

Oxo Tower Restaurant
Once the giddy height of rooftop drinking and dining in London, eighth-floor Oxo has long been eclipsed by high-rise City restaurants, but there’s still something to be said for being able to appreciate the dome of St Paul’s at eye level and watching the river flow past below without layers of protective plate glass in the way. Harvey Nichols ownership means there’s some chic seating on the narrow terrace (Philippe Starck Ghost chairs) as well as own-label bargains on the wine list (a magnum of champagne for £115). Otherwise, choose from two dozen cocktails and snack on beer-battered prawns. Barge House Street, London, SE1 9PH

Sushisamba
Sushisamba

Sushisamba
I was once having a drink in Sushisamba when a storm passed in full throttle overhead: thunderbolts and lightning, very very exciting when you’re 38 floors up in the air and it feels like the building you’re in is poking right into the clouds. If it’s not raining, head outside to a terrace where a golden tree forms the centrepiece of the circular bar, although the bird’s eye view right onto the Gherkin and over the rest of London is way better inside. Accomplished cocktails from star bartender Richard Woods reflect the Japanese/Brazilian fusion of the kitchen: a Smoked Plum Negroni or a Padrón Pepper Caipirinha, say. 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY

The Boundary
The Boundary

Boundary Rooftop
Can’t blag your way in to Shoreditch House? Then head round the corner to Boundary Rooftop, a summertime oasis of wicker sofas, pots overflowing with herbs and a wood-burning fire that is as rustic-Tuscan-chic as you would expect from somewhere designed by Sir Terence Conran. It’s glorious when the sun is shining, there’s a heated orangery (complete with citrus trees) if it rains – but the best time to visit is after dark, when the twinkling lights of the City’s skyscrapers look like a site-specific art installation. Gin and tonics are made from cuttings from the garden, cocktails come in pitchers to share and there is steak and seafood from the grill. 2-4 Boundary Street, London, E2 7DD

Madison
Madison

Madison
A bar on top of a shopping centre might not sound like the most alluring prospect but this one is on the roof of the City’s upmarket One New Change and boasts huge terraces with up-close-and-personal views of St Paul’s Cathedral. Sold! The Moët Ice pop up bar serves Ice Impérial Rosé, there are floral-inspired cocktails, plus Sunday brunches with bottomless Bloody Marys if you need something to soak up the booze. On 6 June and 4 July Madison is hosting alfresco spirit and cigar pairings (£40); the first one matches Grand Marnier with Cohiba Siglo IV. DJs play Thursday to Saturday. 1 New Change, London, EC4M 9AF

Golden Bee
Golden Bee

Golden Bee
Pretend you’re in New York’s Meatpacking District and not grimy old Shoreditch at Golden Bee, where instead of the usual rickety garden furniture found hereabouts you’ll find proper sofas, squishy pouffes and a roaring fire. Champagnes run from Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial at £60 a bottle to Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 2006 at £600, while there’s a Noughties flavour to the cocktail list featuring Porn Star Martini, Passion Fruit Collins and Pear Mojito. For Wimbledon fortnight, grass turf is being laid and the tennis being shown on big screens; celebrate a Murray win by partying to DJs until 3am at the weekend. Singer Street, London, EC1V 9DD

Coq d'Argent
Coq d’Argent

Coq d’Argent
Coq d’Argent boasts not just a terrace but also a neatly trimmed lawn, edged with box hedges and surrounded by a walkway to promenade around while taking in the view of the Square Mile, drink in hand. 70 different blends of whisky can be sampled as flights (the £150 Royal Flight includes Karuizawa 1981), there’s a strong line-up of gin-based cocktails and you also have access to Coq’s excellent French wine list. If you can’t stand the heat, a walled terrace also provides some shade. Rammed with suits Monday to Friday, weekends are a whole lot more civilised, when the City turns into a 28 Days Later-style ghost town. 1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8EJ

Pergola
Pergola

Pergola on the Roof
I had to look up “pergola” in the dictionary to remind myself what it means: “An arched structure in a garden or park consisting of a framework covered with climbing or trailing plants”, according to the OED. This pergola is seven days into a 14-week residency on the roof of the old BBC Television Centre in Shepherd’s Bush and one can only hope that the trailing plants are the remains of the Blue Peter garden. Food comes courtesy of such London luminaries as Spanish/Italian Salt Yard, rotisserie specialist Le Coq and British food purveyors Rabbit, while the centre of the 500-capacity site is taken up with a bar serving summery drinks. Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, W12 7RJ

Notch
Notch

Notch
On the fourth floor of the Marriott but with its own entrance (alas with no lift), Notch is tricked out with the sort of urban architectural salvage – school tables, bomb-proof lighting – that is the visual shorthand for cool from Brooklyn to Berlin but is a less common sight at the corner of Park Lane. An ex-Kurobuta and Nobu chef is cooking up Japanese street food along the lines of sashimi pizza and pork-belly buns, while the house speciality drinks are cans of Negronis and Old Fashioneds and wine from the bag. The best seats in the house are the playground swings overlooking Oxford Street.535 Oxford Street, London, W1C 2QW

Rumpus Rooms at the Mondrian
Rumpus Rooms at the Mondrian

Rumpus Rooms
So chic that Telegraph Luxury celebrated its first birthday here, the Tom Dixon-designed Rumpus Rooms is worth a visit for the decor alone. The sumptuously furnished glass box on the top floor of Mondrian London is tricked out in a forest fruit palette and lit by pendant globe lights that look like exploding fireworks. But you probably won’t notice any of that as you scoot straight out on to the 12th-floor terrace with views over the Thames to St Paul’s and the City towers. Back inside, a gleaming brass bar dispenses Champagne cocktails and gin punches; there are luxe nibbles of lobster roll; and DJs make a rumpus from Thursday to Saturday. 20 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PD;

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