The 11 best rooftop bars in London for the scorching weekend ahead

Radio Rooftop
Radio Rooftop

Just as The Drifters sang, everything is all right up on the roof. More than all right: London now boasts an impressive array of high-rise venues offering the height of good drinking; not to mention al fresco spaces for safe post-lockdown socialising.

From City skyscrapers to top-floor gardens, here are our 11 favourite rooftop bars in London. 

Aqua Spirit 

Aqua’s two terraces may no longer be the novelty they were when this Japanese-Spanish joint opened in 2009 but it’s still one of the few elevated spots for alfresco drinks in the West End, even if the view of Regent Street is more atmospheric than inspirational. 

The terrace at Aqua Nueva

In-house creations blend premium spirits (Belvedere vodka, Tanqueray No Ten gin, Casamigos tequila) with sugary fruit flavours, though when the sun is beating down, nothing beats an Aperol spritz or mojito: noughties but nice. Sushi and sashimi, chicken wings and skewers are on hand if you’re feeling peckish.

30 Argyll Street, London, W1B 3BR;


Aviary's 'igloos' are set up for social distancing

Some rooftop bars are content to welcome summer with a smattering of deck chairs and garden benches. Not so this 10th-floor venue, which enlisted the services of top design outfit Russell Sage Studio to create a terrace with a marble bar as its centrepiece, firepits for when it gets chilly,  and private-hire igloos for social distancing.

Gin is the strength of the cocktail list; try it along with honey, mead and crème de mure in the honey rider or a G&T old fashioned which swaps out bourbon for Pothecary gin and adds a dash of crème de violette. 

Small plates (hummus, rock oysters, steak tartare) are on hand for sustenance, but for something more substantial you’ll have to head inside to the modern British restaurant.

Montcalm Royal London House Hotel, 22-25 Finsbury Square, London, EC2A 1DX;        

Boundary Rooftop 

Can’t blag your way in to Shoreditch House? Then head round the corner to Boundary Rooftop, a summertime oasis of wicker sofas, pots of herbs and a wood-burning fire that is as rustic-Tuscan-chic as you would expect from somewhere designed by Sir Terence Conran.

Boundary Rooftop

It’s glorious when the sun is shining, there’s a heated orangery (complete with citrus trees) if it rains – but the best time to visit is after dark, when the twinkling lights of the City’s skyscrapers look like a site-specific art installation.

Gin-and-tonics are made from cuttings from the garden, cocktails are based on premium spirits and there is steak and seafood from the grill.

2-4 Boundary Street, London, E2 7DD; 

Coq d’Argent 

Coq d’Argent boasts not just a terrace but also a neatly trimmed lawn, edged with box hedges and surrounded by a walkway to promenade around while taking in the view of the Square Mile, drink in hand. More than a hundred different blends of whisky include Brora 30-year-old for £160, and you also have access to Coq’s excellent French wine list.

Coq d'Argent's rooftop garden Credit: Thomas Alexander

If you can’t stand the heat, a walled terrace provides some shade, while the bar inside takes 1920s Paris as its inspiration; all aged brass, bronze glass and snacks of charcuterie and crevettes. Usually rammed with suits Monday to Friday, weekends are a whole lot more civilised, when the City turns into a 28 Days Later ghost town and there’s a Rosé on the Roof brunch. 

1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8EJ; 

Jin Bo Law 

Impressive views from the 14th-floor terrace make up for the off-piste location at the Dorsett City hotel’s rooftop bar, where a panorama of Tower Bridge, the Shard, the Walkie Talkie and Gherkin opens outwards from the L-shaped room. Inside, lashings of gilt bring an unexpected glamour to unlovely Aldgate, though a huge Golden Pineapple suggests that none of it is to be taken too seriously.

The terrace at Jin Bo Law

Tropical cocktails follow suit in the likes of a vodka, lime and peach ‘pickled tink’, though there’s also a very serious selection of Scotch whisky, and large-format Champagnes for big spenders: a jeroboam of Moët & Chandon for £900, or a methuselah of Dom Pérignon for £8k. 

Dorsett City, 9 Aldgate High Street, London, EC3N 1AH;


A bar on top of a shopping centre might not sound like the most alluring prospect but this one is on the roof of the City’s upmarket One New Change and boasts huge terraces with up-close-and-personal views of St Paul’s Cathedral. Sold! 

Views over St Paul's from Madison Credit: Thomas Alexander

Cool off with a flute of Möet & Chandon Ice then get stuck into a cocktail list that puts a spin on the classics with the likes of a white coconut negroni or roasted pina colada. 

Soak up the booze with burgers, buttermilk chicken and cheese and charcuterie and make the most of being outside by lighting up a Cohiba Siglo cigar. DJs play Tuesday to Friday and also provide the soundtrack to weekend brunch.

1 New Change, London, EC4M 9AF;

The Nest

A living wall and lush greenery fit the sustainability ethos of this eco-minded hotel, where you can sleep easy knowing that single-use plastics have been reduced and much of the wood-heavy interior has been recycled.

The Nest

You could, however, be forgiven for ignoring your surroundings entirely and rushing straight to the edge of the terrace for a rare-in-the-West End 15th-floor view over the Soho rooftops to the London Eye beyond. 

Avocado bellinis, whisky coladas, barrel-aged coconut manhattans and boozy slushes and shakes follow the Cal-Mex theme of Madera restaurant downstairs. Brunches of wild mushroom frittata, mezze platters and waffles with berries and cream are served at the weekend and, if you like what you eat, retro picnics (prawn cocktail brioche, coronation chicken) are available to takeaway.  

Treehouse London, 14-15 Langham Place, London W1B 2QS;


Once the giddy height of rooftop drinking and dining in London, eighth-floor Oxo has long been eclipsed by high-rise City restaurants, but there’s still something to be said for being able to appreciate the dome of St Paul’s at eye level and watching the river flow past below without layers of protective plate glass in the way.

Views over the Thames from Oxo Brasserie & Bar

Harvey Nichols ownership means there’s some chic seating on the 200-ft terrace as well as own-label bargains on the wine list (Oxo Brut NV Champagne for £65, rosé fizz for £75). Otherwise, choose from two dozen cocktails and snack on a Toulouse sausage hot dog.

Barge House Street, London, SE1 9PH;       

Radio Rooftop Bar 

Book ahead to avoid the queues for this hotel bar, which can sometimes match altitude with attitude. Make it up to the 10th floor though and 360-degree views are the pay off, stretching from the Shard and St Paul’s downstream to the London Eye and Big Ben up west.

Radio Rooftop Bar  Credit: Chris Orange/Chris Orange

Nibble on global finger food, from crispy calamari and chicken satay to roasted cauliflower and soft-shell crab sliders, while deciding whether a double magnum of Rock Angel Côtes de Provence rosé or a jeroboam of Louis Roederer Cristal ’99 is the more rock'n'roll way to live up to the Ibiza beach club vibe of it all. Daytimes (breakfast, brunch, lunch) are less hectic, as too are the selection of Low & No cocktails (low ABV and non-alcoholic).

ME London, 336-337 Strand, London, WC2R 1HA;


I was once having a drink in Sushisamba when a storm passed in full throttle overhead: thunderbolts and lightning, very very exciting when you’re 38 floors up in the air and it feels like the building you’re in is poking right into the clouds.

Sushisamba's city east terrace

If it’s not raining, head outside to a pair of terraces; a golden tree forms the centrepiece of a circular bar where drinkers congregate like moths around the fireplace after dark, while the East Terrace has a bird’s eye view of the Gherkin and Tower Bridge – and vertiginous drop to the pavement below.

Accomplished cocktails such as a cherry blossom negroni or kaiffirinha reflect the Japanese/Brazilian fusion of the kitchen. Snack on a salmon and jalapeño ‘el topo’ roll: sushi with a hip wiggle of samba.

110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY;

Upper 5th

The sort of place that hipsters namecheck when they say that Hoxton has lost its edge, there are no complaints about street cred when confronted with the view of Shoreditch Town Hall and the City skyscrapers from the decked terrace of the Courtyard Hotel. 

Upper 5th at the Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch Credit: Jarek Klocinski

Raise a glass of East London Liquor gin to former residents of the cells downstairs Ronnie and Reggie Kray before wrapping your north and south around burgers and bratwurst (including veggie options) from the barbecue menu. DJs play at the weekend.