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Roof garden bars and rooftop terraces in London have become a symbol of not only summer, but winter too for us city folk. With limited green space available in the centre of London, sometimes the only direction to escape the crowds of London is up high in the sky, where the best views of London can be enjoyed from behind a cocktail, a beer, a DJ booth, or an Instagram selfie. Work hard during the day and you shall be rewarded with (occasional) sunshine, (occasional) blue skies, alfresco rooftop BBQs, cosy winter wigwams, hot summer bikini beaches, suntans and sunglasses, and romantic views of London that reinforce your rightful decision to choose to live in London in the first place. This guide to the top bars in London at altitude is simply the beginning.
City of London / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Global
Ten floors up, on the fringes between Moorgate and Shoreditch, you'll find Aviary, a rooftop bar, restaurant and terrace that has floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, allowing for plenty of daylight and incredible views across London's trendy East villages and The City's iconic skyscrapers. The heatlamps, marble outdoor bar and comfy sofas provide a gorgeous setting for a craft beer, a nifty Sipsmith gin and Joseph Perrier Champagne cocktail, or a Coravin wine-dispensed glass of class. This is a top date venue for anyone who works (and plays) in East London.
Soho / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Spanish
The journey from ground level alone is worth the visit. Entering near the London Palladium and Liberty in Soho near Oxofrd Circus, you leave the throng of mankind behind and ascent to a dignified, more luxurious place where you're greeted by foreign accented angels who guide you through to Nueva to your roof terrace hideout. The rooftop bar, with its views over Regents Street, is outside, and there's also the option to order drinks at the bar inside. Simple tapas is served from the bar or, for something more substantial once you get tired of the sun, pop into the excellent restaurant for some Spanish sharing plates.
City of London / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: Meat
This rooftop bar next to the Tower of London is quite simply one of the best views across London that you will find anyway! Aside from the Tower itself, you'll be able to Instagram Tower Bridge, the Shard, City Hall, St Paul's Cathedral, and 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 and table service. Anyone who is looking to impress, this is the best bar in London for a date. Grab a refreshing cocktail at the bar and sit back and enjoy the view. Bliss.
West End / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: Bar
As you look down on the world famous Trafalgar Square from this elegant rooftop bar, you'll be rewarded with a magnificent skyline view of iconic Central London. Vista (pictured above) offers a chic venue for summer lunches and urbane cocktails. 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. This rooftop bar is also bookable for private occasions and events.
Queen of Hoxton
Shoreditch / Bar / Club / Cuisine: Bar
This rooftop bar in Shoreditch has one of London's best roof terraces, by far. It has a monster BBQ, a hanging garden, plus, during the summer, classic and cult movies are screened here. During the winter, a giant cosy wigwam takes centre stage. The views of the City's skyscrapers are amazing. 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 up on the roof. Yes, the City is close by, but please, leave the suit at the office. Wear something summery instead; like a smile!
South Bank & Bankside / Bar /
Indulge in exotic concoctions and innovative reinterpretations of the classics at Dandelyan cocktail bar. Situated at Mondrian London hotel, Dandelyan roof terrace boasts spectacular views over the Thames' riverside, perfect for Instagram and first dates. The cocktails reflect the character of the interior (designed by Tom Dixon), both being sleek, glamorous and creative. Award-winning bar impresario Ryan Chetiyawardana, A.K.A Mr Lyan, takes inspiration for the drinks menu from the botanical treasures of the British countryside, just making it all more sophisticated.
West End / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: Bar
This rooftop bar and terrace on the Strand in the West End, has views across to Tower Bridge, The Shard, St. Paul's Cathedral, Tate Modern, Somerset House, The South Bank, The London Eye, The Houses of Parliament, and Covent Garden's Theatreland. The swanky rooftop bar ten floors up in ME London Hotel provides a wide range of angles to enjoy. The plush outdoor seating is best suited to sun worshipping, and lounging is the order of the day (or night). The bar staff have a range of cocktails and wines to make even the hardiest of lushes blush. It's a very popular roof terrace bar so arrive early and bring plenty of cash (it ain't cheap).
Shoreditch / Bar / Cuisine: International
The only sight better than a naked Brad Pitt? The 360-degree views at Boundary rooftop bar made up of Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, the Barbican and the spires of East London. This large rooftop bar terrace has seating around an open fireplace and a garden, just as faultless as the view. The garden's design also includes a vine canopy (with grapes) and a garrigue/wild herb theme. This would suit those laid back days when you bunk off work pulling a sickie with a couple of mates and lounge about in the sun drinking cocktails and munching on bar snacks. The best rooftop bar in Shoreditch for chilling out.
The Big Chill House
Kings Cross / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: Eclectic
This rooftop terrace bar in Kings Cross is blessed with sunshine all day long. There's also giant Jenga to amuse those who simply cant chill out for 5 minutes, as well as sun loungers for those who certainly can. The roof terrace bar huts and serviced by a constantly cooking outdoor BBQ, which in turn is also fuelled by a herb garden where the bar grows its own herbs, plants and fruits. The roof terrace can hold around 50 lovely, chirpy, smiling (no frowning allowed) people, and the music policy is very much of the happy, chilled and feel-good variety. The best rooftop bar in Kings Cross for fun times.
Babylon at The Roof Gardens
Kensington / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
You don't have to be dining in the restaurant to take in the dazzling views of London's skyline; so why not pop down to Babylon at The Roof Gardens for a few drinks on the terrace and indulge in a cocktail or two?! Award winning Babylon is not just known for its delicious food, but also for the amazing cocktails. Take a seat on the roof top terrace and sip on a Saffron Bellini or try a Babylon Sling, to name a few. The bar at Babylon is perfect for some after work drinks or cocktails with friends.
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