Beat the summer heat and sip your drink in the sky at one of these London rooftop bars
London does drinking holes better than most, and come summer, when competition is fierce for a coveted spot outside, those in the know head upwards to the city’s ever-growing repertoire of sky-high bars. The most happening hubs often make the most of the ever-changing face of the capital, perching themselves on everything from the sleek lines of the City to the Victorian architecture of Smithfield’s. Some of the best are strictly pop-up, so make the most of the inventive spaces while you can.
If you’ve ever wanted to own a penthouse in London, Gaucho in Piccadilly is the best place to try before you buy. Full of plush sofas, ambient lighting and trendy, clean lines, the only thing more glamorous than the setting is its clientele. Just remember to don your best jacket or dress, because those enjoying its cocktails at altitude are dressed to impress.
The rooftop restaurant on top of the old BBC TV centre in White City, Pergola, is ushering the summer in with another round of incredible pop-ups. Hit 8 Hoxton Square, Bonnie Gull, Breddos Tacos or Patty & Bun. Whichever you choose, they’ll doubtless provide the perfect fuel to party beneath the Hampton-inspired décor. Word on the street is, there’s DJs at their new Paddington venue too, so you really will be able to dance the night away.
Take Selfridge’s rooftop lift to the centre of Californian-style dining in London this summer and hit the Roof Deck. Opened by Des McDonald, the former head chef at The Ivy, the concept promises health-focused foods (with a Latin-American twist) and cool, sunshine vibes. Don’t forget to order the guacamole – it’s already gained a big reputation for itself.
What the Bird lacks in size, it more than makes up for in colour. Complete with a living wall, lots of shrubbery and a grass-like floor, the overall theme is a healthy green. And, overlooking the emerald skyline of Smithfield’s, there’s plenty to admire from the barstools. Visit this clubby Georgian townhouse for the best combination of formality and fun.
Renowned for its buzzing atmosphere and killer cocktails, Madison’s Terrace Bar has the best views of St Paul’s cathedral in the capital. It also hosts some of the bigger names on the DJ circuit, as well as live acoustic acts, so try to keep abreast of its events calendar. Partygoers chat deep into the night here thanks to heaters that keep temperatures summery, even when the sun’s gone down.
Put your sunglasses on because few London venues have quite the colourful, reggae vibe that spills out of the Magic Roundabout. Selling artisanal coffee, craft beer and street food, Old Street’s best-kept secret makes its guests feel especially in-the-know, as the space can only be accessed via a staircase in the local tube station, which only the well-briefed know about.
Sky Garden is Instagram-famous thanks mainly to its sunrise yoga sessions and spectacular views. Sitting right at the centre of it all, with a panorama that includes the Cheese Grater, Gherkin and Shard, punters adore its dining options and evergreen surroundings. From the Skypod bar with its extensive cocktail list, to the Darwin Brasserie and its seasonal menu, visitors will never go hungry in this minimalist masterpiece.