London’s best rooftop bars have got attitude and altitude.
Summer isn’t quite complete if you can’t pair your cocktail with some equally intoxicating views of the city – and this year, rooftops and rooftop bars have become some of the most important social spaces around, as pubs and bars are permitted to reopen with the easing of the UK lockdown. Pretty fortunate then, that we’ve put together a list of the best rooftop bars in London to drink at over summer 2020.
Please note that due to the coronavirus pandemic, not all of these bars may have opened just yet. We’ve confirmed reopening dates for most venues, but some are still formalising their plans to return, and have been marked as TBD – we’ll aim to keep you updated as much as possible!
1. Bar Elba, Waterloo (reopening July 4)
A wonderful themed offering amongst these rooftop bars, Bar Elba is the companion bar of the ultra-glam Tonight Josephine. Honouring Napoleon’s exile on his party isle of Elba, you won’t need 600 mates and a horse to enjoy this place. Unless, you know, you want to. This summer, their rooftop bottomless brunch and dreamy film nights are already drumming up a lot of excitement. 109-117 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UL. Nearest station is Waterloo.
2. Roof East, Stratford (reopening July 4)
An expansive space in Stratford, Roof East’s playground for adults offers exactly that: curling lanes, baseball batting cages and crazy golf are all popping up there this summer, along with street food to gorge yourself on. Read all about it here. Level 8 Car park, Great Eastern Way, E15 1XE. Nearest station is Stratford.
3. Prince of Wales, Brixton (reopening July 5)
A multi-storey pub-meets-club, the Prince of Wales rooftop offers a Rum Shack, live music and DJ sets across a terrific two-tier terrace. Bounce to hot beats at one of south London’s best rooftop bars, pint in hand, or join one of their sizzling brunch parties this summer. 467-469 Brixton Road, SW9 8HH. Nearest station is Brixton.
4. London Skybar, Westminster (reopening July 4)
Perched atop the Millbank Tower, sweeping views of the Thames are the main draw at Skybar. To celebration the return of pubs and restaurants, they’re throwing a barbecue on the outdoor terrace on July 4, along with a film night and DJ set. Find your tickets here! Millbank Tower 21-24, SW1P 4QP. Nearest station is Pimlico.
5. Bussey Rooftop Bar, Peckham (reopening July 4)
Peckham really is blessed with rooftop bars, as this one sits across the Overground tracks from Frank’s Cafe. Whilst the views are special, don’t let them distract you from your mission: sampling the best frozen fruity cocktails south of the river. Roof B, Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST. Nearest station is Peckham Rye.
6. Lost In Brixton, Brixton (reopening July 4)
The most recent venture from the team behind The Prince, Pergola Paddington and Pergola Olympia, this hidden space had never been seen or used by the public before its opening last summer. It’s accessed via a secret staircase in a corner of the market. At the top of the stairs you’ll discover a 440 capacity venue decked out with jungle greenery and a Brit-friendly retractable roof, and with a strong emphasis on tropical cocktails. Find out more here. Brixton Village, SW9 8PS. Nearest station is Brixton.
7. Savage Garden, City (reopening July 4)
This glossy rooftop bar opened in 2018, twelve floors above the Hilton DoubleTree hotel in Tower Hill, and offers views of Tower Bridge from their fine terrace. Expect ‘savagely Portuguese’ wines, top-flight nibbles and a price point to match – you are in the City, after all. 12th Floor, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London, 7 Pepys Street, EC3N 4AF. Nearest station is Tower Hill.
8. Netil360, Hackney (reopening July 4)
Charmingly rustic, and all the more popular for it, this is one of East London’s favourite rooftop bars. A great list of craft beers (from East London, natch) adds to the laidback atmosphere of Netil 360, which also boasts a cafe, gallery, and workspace. 1 Westgate Street, E8 3RL. Nearest station is London Fields.
9. Skylark Roof Garden, Little Venice (reopening July 4)
A new arrival in summer 2019, Skylark Roof Garden is back for their second summer season in early July. Cocktails such as the White Chocolate Martini made it a firm favourite, and the hopeful return of their “lavish day beds” will allow for sunshine reclining. Plus, views of Notting Hill, Hyde Park, and Regents Park provide the cherry on top of this sundae. Read all about it here. 4 Kingdom Street, W2 6BD. Nearest stations are Royal Oak and Paddington.
10. Skylight, Wapping (reopening July 4)
Officially the only rooftop bar in London to offer a croquet course (although it’s on hold for the moment due to social distancing measures), Skylight sits above Tobacco Dock, and also opens in the winter season with an adorable rooftop ice rink. Pennington Street, E1W 2SF. Nearest station is Shadwell.
11. Madison Rooftop, St Pauls (reopening July 4)
Soaring above the stylish shopping centre is this terrace, which makes its way onto a rooftop bars roundup by virtue of Madison’s, the adjoining restaurant and bar. The ace in the hole here is so obvious that we really don’t need to say it. Do we? (Hint: check the photo background for a clue.) Find out more. Rooftop Terrace One, New Change, St Paul’s, EC4M 9AF. Nearest stations are St Paul’s and Mansion House.
12. Forza Wine, Peckham (reopening July 4)
There are only two words you need to know about Forza Wine, my friends: frozen Negronis. The “taller sibling” of Peckham Italian joint Forza Win, Forza Wine sits on yet another Peckham rooftop (hit Frank’s Cafe and the Bussey Building up for an epic local rooftop bar crawl), and pairs their grown-up slushies with a menu of rustic Italian indulgence. More info here. 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST. Nearest station is Peckham Rye.
13. Coq D’Argent, Bank (reopening July 4)
Immaculately manicured lawns, cute hedges, wisteria draped across the terraces… Coq D’Argent makes a serious claim to be the most beautiful of London’s rooftop bars. Feast on views of the City of London as you feast on their delicious food, hot off the grill. 1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ. Nearest station is Bank.
14. Pergola Paddington, Paddington (reopening July 4)
Taking a cue from the picturesque Mediterranean coast, Pergola Paddington is elegantly draped in foliage and (hopefully) drenched in sun. The fully alfresco upper deck is a bustling place, thrumming to the sounds of cocktail bars and street food vendors hard at work. Read all about it here. 5 Kingdom Street, W2 6PY. Nearest station is Paddington.
15. Aviary, Finsbury Square (reopening July 4)
A vast expanse of comfy sofas make this an attractive option any time of day. However, Aviary comes into its own when the sun goes down and the lights of the London go on, and the warm summer breeze makes those sofas look suspiciously like beds… Montcalm Royal London House, 22-25 Finsbury Square, EC2A 1DX. Nearest station is Moorgate.
16. Alto at Selfridges, Oxford Street (reopening July 4)
Never one to be outdone, Selfridges hosts a well-regarded rooftop restaurant, with a lovely al fresco bar area on the corner of the building. There’s even a retractable roof for days when the British summer lets us down. Read all about it here. 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB. Nearest station is Bond Street.
17. Radio Rooftop, Strand (reopening July 4)
This radio won’t play the latest beats, but it will bring you cocktails, nibbles, and views of Somerset House and the river… for a hefty per-person minimum spend. Booking was essential even before the lockdown, so you can rest assured it’s extremely necessary now. ME London, 336-337 Strand, WC2R 1HA. Nearest station is Temple.
18. FEST, Camden (reopening July 4)
What FEST lacks in altitude it makes up for with festival-themed vibes and naughty summer treats, including Prosecco popsicles with popping candy, Espresso Martini on tap, and frozen Bourbon slushies. Find out more. Stables Market, NW1 8AH. Nearest station is Camden Town or Chalk Farm.
19. The Boundary, Shoreditch (reopening July 4)
Mediterranean vibes abound in summer at the rooftop bar of swanky Shoreditch hotel The Boundary. The rosé will be chilled, so fingers crossed the weather will be warm, although if it isn’t head to the basement for a bottomless charcuterie board. (See the best restaurants in Shoreditch for even more dining inspo.) 2-4 Redchurch Street, E2 7DD. Nearest station is Shoreditch High Street.
20. Jin Bo Law, Aldgate (reopening July 4)
Asian-inspired cocktails are the order of the day at this swanky Aldgate hangout, atop the Dorsett Hotel. They’ll also throw views of London’s skyscrapers into the bargain, courtesy of this 14th-floor roof terrace. Dorsett City Hotel, 9 Aldgate High Street, EC3N 1AH. Nearest station is Aldgate East.
21. Seabird, Southwark (reopening July 10)
Cue Nelly Furtado’s I’m Like A Bird, because this dreamy rooftop bar will make you feel like soaring. As a restaurant, it boasts London’s largest oyster menu, but simply visiting for drinks is an excellent decision – just sip on a biodynamic wine and relax amongst the lush Mediterranean decor… See more here. 40 Blackfriars Road, SE1 8PB. Nearest station is Southwark.
22. Queen of Hoxton, Shoreditch (reopening July 10)
Queen of Hoxton, everyone’s favourite Shoreditch rooftop bar, usually delivers the goods with their summer and winter pop-ups. Their summer plans may have been disrupted by the coronavirus, but previous themes have included the Wizard of Oz, Mexican female wrestling, and a dystopian Las Vegas, so you can bet it’ll be a good ‘un. Read all about it here. 1 Curtain Road, EC2A 3JX. Nearest station is Liverpool Street, Old Street or Shoreditch High Street.
23. 12th Knot, South Bank (reopening August 1)
Not content with one world-class cocktail bar on the ground floor, the Sea Containers hotel has another on the rooftop. A narrow outdoor terrace offers iconic views across the river, and yet the interior is almost as mouthwatering as the London skyline. The perfect spot to celebrate any special occasion. 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD. Nearest station is Southwark or Blackfriars.
24. Frank’s Cafe, Peckham (reopening TBD)
A classic amongst London rooftop bars. Frank’s Cafe has served Campari-based cocktails and outstanding cooking for years now, and it’s only been enhanced by the creation of Peckham Levels. The drinks here face a fight for supremacy with the lush views, and the insanely Instagrammable bubblegum pink stairs. In a recent Instagram post, the bar promised more news on opening soon, but for now, they remain closed. Read all about it here. Top Floor, 95A Rye Lane, SE15 4ST. Nearest station is Peckham Rye.
25. The Culpeper, Aldgate (reopening TBD)
Part bar, part urban garden, you won’t find many rooftop bars like this in London. Especially ones with views of the City. The roof terrace of lovely East London boozer The Culpeper is an utterly charming collision of modern and rustic. Bonus points if you can find the bar’s giant light-up cucumber. 40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP. Nearest station is Aldgate East.
26. Sushisamba, Liverpool Street (reopening TBD)
Rooftop bars don’t come much higher than this. Spanning the 38th and 39th floors of the Heron Tower, the Japanese-Brazilian fusion restaurant serves cocktails with dramatic views of the city skyline and beyond. No return date has been given yet, but a foliage-filled sister restaurant and bar at ground level is currently open in Covent Garden. Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY. Nearest station is Liverpool Street.
27. Lyric Bar & Grill, Hammersmith (reopening TBD)
If you’re the kind of person who’d like to combine your love of theatre with your zest for rooftop bars, this is the place for you. It’s the restaurant and roof garden of the Lyric Hammersmith, so you’ll get the full package of dinner, drinks, and a show here. However, the impossibility of reopening theatres under the current social distancing measures means it might be a little while before we see this one again. The Lyric Centre, King Street, Hammersmith, W6 0QL. Nearest station is Hammersmith.
28. The Rooftop, Trafalgar Square (reopening TBD)
We were never going to declare any of these champion of rooftop bars, so we’d usually be irked by a place anointing itself ‘The Rooftop’. But when it overlooks Trafalgar Square and looks stunning at night, we’re prepared to forgive this one. At present, no reopening date has been forthcoming. 7th Floor, 2 Spring Gardens, St. James’s, SW1A 2TS. Nearest station is Charing Cross.
29. Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, Southbank (reopening TBD)
Neatly located in the middle of the Southbank, this is a slice of the countryside on a central London rooftop. Wildflowers, allotments, and lawns cover the whole space, as you’d expect from the team who also created Cornwall’s Eden Project. The bar brings the drinks, all you need to bring is a sunny disposition when it eventually reopens. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Lambeth, SE1 8XX. Nearest station is Waterloo.
30. John Lewis Rooftop, Oxford Street (reopening TBD)
Up above the John Lewis department store, a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus, sits this bucolic spot. It’s usually transformed each summer and winter into a fun themed pop-up, but a summer 2020 iteration is still TBD. John Lewis, 300 Oxford Street, W1C 1DX. Nearest Station is Oxford Circus.
31. The Berkeley’s Summer Rooftop, Knightsbridge (reopening TBD)
Last summer, this gorgeous rooftop spa transported us to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Lined with lemon trees and citrus yellow sun beds, ‘La Dolce Vita’ featured loads of spots for sunbathing, a pool for swimming in, a sauna for sweating in, and plenty of cocktails to go around. Fingers crossed we’ll see it’s return in 2020, because I’m in desperate need of a spa treatment. Read all about it here. Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RL. Nearest station is Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corner.
32. Bokan, Canary Wharf (reopening TBD)
Got a real head for heights? This Canary Wharf rooftop bar is perched way up on the 39th floor, and also offer a specialist gin bar, daybeds and Sunday jazz sessions. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for a reopening date. 40 Marsh Wall, E14 9TP. Nearest station is Canary Wharf.
33. Garden Room, Leicester Square (reopening TBD)
Plant-lovers with a penchant for cocktails should make this the first spot on their list. Billed as a ‘Living Bar’, the Garden Room takes plenty of inspiration from the natural world for their cocktails, even going so far as inviting you to hand-pick herbs and botanicals that the Garden Room’s bartenders will then use to infuse and garnish your cocktails. Fingers crossed the Rhubarb Negroni Fool returns when the bar does! See more here. 27-31 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0LS. Nearest station is Leicester Square.
Need more watering holes up your sleeve? See our roundup to the finest pubs in Hackney.
Also published on Medium.