Roof Gardens in London: Top 10 Best Bars & Restaurants with Roof Terraces.
During summer there’s only one place to go to escape the sweaty throngs in London: rooftop terraces and gardens. While away those sunny afternoons and balmy evenings whilst at high altitude venues, soaking up the sunshine and London’s jaw dropping skyline.
Fluid has compiled the ultimate guide to the best of these summer roof garden sanctuaries, positioned high above London's heated smog, all you need to do is decide which place to sip on cooling cocktails whilst pitying those densely packed dots below.
By Faye Armstrong
Babylon at The Roof Gardens
Kensington / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
High Street Kensington - I want one-and-a-half acres of Spanish and English woodland up on a roof and I want it now! Luckily, Sir Richard Branson pampers to my every whim and so has given me the Kensington Roof Gardens. Taking a lift up to the sixth floor, I found a secret world of scenic gardens with flamingos, winding pathways, and burbling fountains. The hectic London city below my feet was forgotten as I sipped on a flute of champagne and mingled with people of the beautiful description.
City of London / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: Meat
Tower Hill - quite simply one of the best views across London that you will find anyway! The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Shard, City Hall, St Paul's Cathedral, the Gherkin, it's all there in a panoramic vista to be enjoyed on two (!) large roof terrace that have both indoor and outdoor bars, table service AND a BBQ every day during the sunny months. Anyone who is looking to impress, this is the best bar in London for a date. Grab a refreshing Hanoi High cocktail at the bar and sit back and enjoy the view. Bliss.
Marylebone / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: French
Marylebone - The roof terrace at this French restaurant in central London can accommodate 20 seated or 70 guests for a standing reception; so cosy, just the way we like it. Head chef Igor Tymchsyshyn has created an al fresco menu featuring dishes such as Scottish smoked salmon with melba toast, Chicken liver parfait with apple chutney and Onion and goats cheese tarts. There's also a series of monthly Champagne tasting events on the roof to enjoy during the warmer months.
Queen of Hoxton
Shoreditch / Bar / Club / Cuisine: Bar
Shoreditch - one of London's best roof terrace, by far. It has a monster BBQ, a hanging garden, garden shed toilets, and a fountain centre piece, plus, during the summer, they hold classic movie nights every night of the working week. Due to the fortuitous positioning of the bar, it bathes in sunshine all day long. Arrive early (midday) and grab a seat as it does get busy (a one-in-one out policy later in the evening). And bring cash as there are no card payments on the roof.
City of London / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: French
Bank - A French restaurant to impress, a leafy roof terrace with its immaculate lawns, and bistro-style tables - the perfect place to spend those balmy summer evenings in the City of London. The atmosphere is relaxed and although I was looking at some of London's most impressive views, the feeling was more continental than cockney. Client entertaining, business meetings, and networking should always been done from up here, thinks I.
Cavendish Club @ No. 5
Marylebone / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Hotel / Cuisine: European
Marylebone - The roof terrace at No5 only has a capacity of 35 so I decided it was worth dismissing of my good graces and elbowing others vying for a spot out the way. Unashamed luxury is the keynote at this Grade II listed Georgian townhouse that features North African and European furnishings and tropical jungle plants on its roof terrace, which is where I gazed at the period chimneystacks of Georgian London whilst rubbing my sore elbow.
Shoreditch / Bar / Restaurant / Hotel / Cuisine: British
Shoreditch - The only sight better than a naked Brad Pitt in my bed? The 360-degree views at Boundary made up of Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, the Barbican and the spires of East London. A large rooftop bar with seating around an open fireplace and a garden designed by Nicola Lesbirel, the design is just as faultless as the view.
Shoreditch / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: European
Shoreditch - Strictly members only, unless you're already in, or know some lucky devil who is, you ain't going to be experiencing the wonders that Shoreditch House has to offer. But with the summer season fast approaching, I strongly advice you throw some money at the problem. The rooftop has a pool, a garden and a lazy lawn where you can sit back on double beds and look at the Gherkin and other high-rise wonders across London.
Roof Top Garden Bar at The Sanctum Soho
Soho / Bar / Hotel /
Soho - We tell a lie, there is more than one amazing roof terrace in Soho after all. The sleek roof garden & residents' bar with its own alfresco hydro spa is the place to see & be seen in central London. The wall to wall glass doors open fully onto the roof garden, bringing the summer outside in & making the beautiful garden an extension of the lounge bar during the summer months. The alfresco Hydro-Spa is a rare find in a central London hotel & overlooks the garden. Two separate seating areas cater for the sun worshipper & those who prefer the shade alike, the garden is a tranquil roof-top haven.
West End / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: Bar
Looking down at the world famous Trafalgar Square, this elegant bar/restaurant offers a magnificent sky view of the most iconic parts of London. Recently featured TV show ?Made in Chelsea?, Vista offers a chic venue for summer lunches and urbane drinks. The ambience is definitely elegant and sophisticated: modern furniture, comfortable and trendy sofas, cushioned high stools. The food is certainly adventurous but with the comfort of traditional and well-known ingredients: lobsters, halloumi, tuna and chicken. The drinks menu is also quite diverse: cocktails, champagne and more familiar liqueurs and aperitifs. The location is bookable for private occasions and events.
Frank's Bar & Cafe
Peckham & Camberwell / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Italian
Peckham - Part modern art gallery, part dodgy film set, this pop-up alfresco bar & restaurant has one of the most spectacular views across London's skyline that the city has to offer. The 'garden' part of this roof garden is essentially all concrete, which gives it an endearing quality. Ask you date/significant other/friends if they've ever of heard or been to Frank's in south east London yet, and if they reply in the negative, tell them just to trust you. The intriguing climb up through the level of what appears to be a disused car park will only enhance the full affect once they realise what delights wait for them at the top: sunshine, beer, cocktails, music, art, food, and sexy Londoners.
The White House
Clapham / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: Traditional English
Clapham - One of South London's most loved DJ bars, The White House also offers another draw: a gorgeous wooden roof terrace where the punters choose to spill out onto when the sun is at its most glorious. Open from the beginning of May and staying alfresco until the end of September, it's the perfect summer spot to work on the tan and, if you get bored of frying, The White House 3-floored hybrid venue incorporating nightclub, bar and restaurant is right there. I'll see you there on 1st May.
Smiths of Smithfield (SOS)
City of London / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Modern Eclectic
Farringdon - Masterchef's John Torode can be spotted cycling in and out of his City of London layered eating experience almost every day. Many know about the breakfasts his staff serve on the ground floor; some know about the private dining rooms and wine rooms on the next levels up. Few know about the timber-decked fine dining restaurant and roof terrace up on the top level though. Great views of London.
Paradise by way of Kensal Green
Ladbroke Grove & Kensal / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Modern European
Kensal Green - Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green is a bit of a mouthful but in contrast the attractive roof terrace, arranged with palms and deckling, left me speechless. Saying that, I almost didn't make it to the terrace, nearly losing my direction through the distractions of the atmospheric venue made up with cherubs, spiralling staircases, craquelure paintwork and Chinese lanterns.
Grand Union Kennington
Lambeth & Elephant & Castle / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: American
Kennington - the Grand Union brand is renowned for its flamboyant, sultry interiors and well stocked bars, but it?s predominantly famous for attention to detail when it comes to alfresco spaces. And this venue is a quintessential Grand Union bar.. The south-facing roof terrace is the perfect dimensions for those looking for a venue to hire in the sunshine for a team gathering, a post wedding party, a birthday knees up, or a corporate event. The proximity to the Imperial War Museum makes it a nice little stop off for mums, dads, and grandparents in need of a sit down after plenty of historical discoveries. You can even see the London Eye from up there.
The Big Chill House
Kings Cross / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: Eclectic
Kings Cross - Big Chill House has pretty much everything you could want... freshly roasted morning coffee, free wifi in the cafe area, cool drinks on the sunny terrace or a late night boogie on the dance floor! The Big Chill House is a large Victorian Pub in the heart of London's King's Cross. Its recent restyling has left the locals and travellers gawping through its huge windows, in complete surprise!
Soho Sky Terrace
Soho / Bar / Hotel /
Soho - OK, yes, there are plenty of roof terraces in Soho after all and Soho Sky Terrace is therefore the ideal outdoor inner city space as it allows me to embrace the unpredictable and unreliable British weather. I can visit on both the rare, warm, dry days as well as during the colder, drizzly spells that we have become more accustomed to. I believe my less homesick Australian friend will even be sticking around a while longer to chuck some more shrimps on the Soho Sky Terrace barbie. It was even a winner with her; bonza mate!
Soho / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
Soho - El Cantara brings you Soho's only private terrace, offering the very finest Shisha smoking pipes and Spanish/Moroccan dining experience. Sample a variety of shisha flavours on the cosy roof terrace, including apple, strawberry, mint, grape and many more. All of tobacco is produced by the Egyptian company Al-Fakar meaning that we serve only the best quality. Why not try something a little different by sampling the new fresh apple or milk shisha's which can be with an array of different cocktails. As far as we know, this is probably Soho's best rooftop terrace, despite its diminutive size.
Angel & Islington / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Gastro
Angel - Boasting a beautiful rooftop Terrace, it is the ideal place to catch up with friends or wind the day away with a book and a birds eye view on the busy world below listening to relaxing Brazilian lounge music.
Fulham / Bar / Club /
Fulham Broadway - This particular roof terrace will really only interest anyone who is into the concept of exclusivity and/or anyone who lives in West London. For £300 per year you can become a member of Broadway House. Within the privileges (of which there are many) granted you as a member is the use of not one but TWO rooftop terraces. Inside the club you can enjoy the cocktail bar and restaurant, outside its rooftop BBQs, a late license bar, and special events like movie screenings, wine tastings, member parties and poker tournaments. And, both terraces are available for private functions. Nifty.
Shepherds Bush / Bar / Club /
Shepherd's Bush - Large scale live music in this part of London usually occurs at the Shepherd?s Bush Empire down the road but this ornate and beautifully unique hall still has room for a decent crowd of music lovers. We therefore implore you to visit whenever the weather is most clement because at some point during the cosy performance you'll need to fetch yourselves some drinks. At this point, take a short time out, climb the stairs, purchase a glass of house wine for less than £4 or a bottle of wine for £15, then sun yourself on the small alfresco roof terrace. The high walls exclude prying eyes so this is when you go in for the all-important kiss. Smooch!
The Lock Tavern
Camden / Bar / Cuisine: Pub
Camden - Take one Shoredtich hipster, remove his coffee and replace it with a beer. Take away his cardigan and replace it with a leather jacket. Nick his fixie-wheel bike and replace it with a guitar: and thus you have the Camdenite. Those grunty, tattooed, bleery-eyed substance abusers who are the future of British music must all graduate through The Lock Tavern at some point, and occasionally, they even come out into the light. For those vampires who aren't averse to sunshine, the roof terrace and beer garden at this bar are handy vantage points for peering down at the squares on Camden high street, smoking cigarettes, and making poetic attempts at finding their next sexual encounter.
Dalston Roof Park
Dalston / Bar /
Dalston - This cool little roof terrace (which almost looks like a rooftop allotment) is open throughout the day so if you live or work in the area and long for an oasis of green where you can read your book for a wee while, then this is the roof for you. The alfresco bar opens conveniently just as work time is coming to a close for most people, and almost each night of the week special events take place on the roof to keep everyone entertained and enthralled, such as stand up comedy, classic movie screenings, and DJ sets from the likes of Giles Peterson. Yeh, that guy. See, told you it was cool.
Kings Cross / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: British
Kings Cross - This pub is deceptive. Its ground floor interior, when peering in from outside, can seem dark and uninhabited. And yet inside there is a comfy bar, with a array of interesting beers, beckoning to be enjoyed. And yet, if the sun is shining, and once beer is hand, eschew the bar and begin climbing, and don?t stop until you reach the top. There you will find, 3 floors up, a seclude hidden rooftop terrace that is basked in sunshine for most of the day, complete with comfy leather seating. It can also be used as an annex for private functions happening on the levels below.
West End / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: Bar