Summer’s just around the corner in London, so we’ve scoured the capital to find the best rooftop bars to maximise those precious rays.
Some new faces are appearing on the scene this season, while old favourites are emerging from hibernation, refreshed for a new round of alfresco drinking and dining.
Here are our favourite rooftop bars in London.
Alto at Selfridges, Oxford Street
Once again, Selfridges’ rooftop bar and restaurant is home to Italian dining spot Alto. The setting couldn’t be further from the busy Oxford Street pavement below, featuring parquet flooring, cane chairs and overhead creepers. Alto’s menu offers Venetian cicchetti, alongside a long list of Italian classics including Tuscan fish stew, Sicilian arancini and, of course, tagliatelle Bolognese. Guests can dine on the greenery-covered alfresco terrace, or enjoy a spritz at the bar.
The Culpeper Rooftop Garden, Shoreditch
The Culpeper is opening its pickle-centric summer installation, PICULPEPER, for one final outing this year. There’s the addition of a new canopy so you can shelter from summer storms, as well as a few fire pits for chilly nights. The menu has also been updated – and it’s all about the grill. There are vegetarian-friendly options, including slow-roast camembert with honey, but meat-eaters won’t feel left out thanks to the house-cured and smoked charcuterie.
Savage Garden Bar London, the City
Perching atop the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London, Savage Garden Bar London opened last year. Interiors are by Grapes Design and have a self-styled ‘brutal and experimental’ theme. Pastel shades have been ditched in favour of cool concrete tones, marbleised floors and furniture, velvet flourishes and lots of glass. Sip on cocktails conceived by mixologist Andre Cavalheiro with names such as Wild Poison and Devil’s Advocate.
7 Pepys St, London EC3N 4AF
Pergola Paddington returns for its third outing, brimming with self-service food stalls from the likes of Patty & Bun, kebab-makers the Babek Brothers, and wonton specialists An Choi. The London rooftop bar is set over two levels, with room for 850 people, and is dripping with hanging plants and a living wall (and a roof, in case it gets wet…)
The Botanical Bar at HMS Belfast
Previously Tom’s Kitchen, the rooftop of the HMS Belfast’s visitor centre has reopened this summer as The Botanical Bar. Run by River Cottage and following the mantra of the restaurant’s local approach to food, the cocktails promise to be put a twist on favourites and bring a new burst of flavour to the rooftop scene. Don’t expect the trappings of the space to look that different – it’s all about the river views.
Rumpus Room at Mondrian London
Rumpus Room sits atop the Mondrian London in Sea Containers House and has unrivalled views of the river and St Paul’s Cathedral. Catering for a design-loving audience, its interiors are the handiwork of Tom Dixon, who’s filled its glass chamber with jewel-coloured seating and brass tables. The outdoor terrace isn’t to be sniffed at either and offers the best vantage point for drinking in the scenery. Expect DJs from Thursday to Saturday and live music on Wednesday nights.
Frank’s Cafe, Peckham Multi-Storey
It’s not officially summer until Frank’s Cafe has opened. The beloved drinking hole, now in its 11th year, was originally designed by Practice Architecture for arts group Bold Tendencies, but it always gets an annual update (save for its distinctive red canopy). It’s set to open on 30 May but in the meantime, visitors can check out Bold Tendencies’ programme of visual and performing arts, and explore the Peckham Levels complex which fills seven floors of the Brutalist car park Frank’s sits atop.
The Midnight Apothecary, Rotherhithe
This rustic pop-up botanical bar takes over the roof of the Brunel Museum’s subterranean tunnel. Seasonal cocktails are made using ingredients picked from its garden setting, and there’s a campfire to ward off the chill of spring evenings. If you’re more in the mood for beer, wine or prosecco, there’s a lower terrace outside the Engine House. Midnight Apothecary is ticketed and only open on Friday and Saturday nights, so be sure to book in advance.
LIDO at The Curtain
The newly opened LIDO, at Shoreditch hotel The Curtain, serves Mediterranean food beside a Moroccan-style rooftop pool. It’s prepared for England’s unreliable summers though, with heated water and a retractable glass roof that’s strung with lights. Diners can sip on a spritz, and choose from a menu that includes salt-baked beetroots, lemon sole, and cacio e pepe.
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