The best rooftop bars in London for summer 2020 

London has no shortage of rooftop bars, from riverside terraces and leafy pop-ups atop urban skyscrapers, to high-rise restaurants and cocktails in the clouds – all set against dizzying views of the capital's iconic skyline

Shout it from the rooftops: London's popular sky-high establishments are opening their doors again, just in time for July's impending heatwave 

9 July 2020

Boundary Rooftop, Shoreditch

The best rooftop bars in London: Boundary

Few spots showcase just how much the City skyline has changed in the past decade better than Boundary Rooftop. Situated on an achingly cool corner of Redchurch Street, just up from Shoreditch House, Boundary’s Rooftop restaurant is typically opened all year round, thanks to a weatherproof pergola and a shed-load of heaters. Having been closed for the last few months, Boundary is now welcoming back guests. The Rooftop, serving largely Mediterranean dishes, does not take bookings for its outdoor tables. Instead, they are offered on a walk-in basis. Alternatively, book the Glass Orangery to be guaranteed a table for a two-hour slot.  

Address: 2-4 Boundary Street, Hackney, London, E2 7DD 
Opening hours: 
Monday – Wednesday 5pm – 11pm, Thursday-Sunday 12pm – 11pm
Website: boundary.london/rooftop

Seabird at The Hoxton, Southwark

Positioned on the 14th floor of The Hoxton hotel in Southwark, guests flock to Seabird for its al fresco terrace, marble tabletops, palm trees and panoramic views, with the Thames, the Houses of Parliament, St Paul's and The Shard all in scope. The restaurant was designed by the team behind Williamsburg’s acclaimed seafood restaurant Maison Premiere and serves a similarly cool combo of oysters and atmosphere.

Alongside lavish seafood platters and the longest list of oysters in London, Seabird's menu reels off whole grilled fish, Iberico pork, rib-eye steak and spiced aubergine, while sophisticated cocktails make it the perfect date night spot. The weekend brunch is a popular affair, with no less than five Bloody Mary options and a zesty marmalade-infused Bucks Fizz.

Address: The Hoxton, Southwark, 40 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8PB 
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 12pm – 12am; Friday 12pm – 1am; Saturday 11am – 1am; Sunday 11am – 12am
Website: thehoxton.com

Aqua Kyoto, Soho

The outdoor terrace at Aqua Kyoto is often overlooked in round-ups of the capital’s best rooftop bars – which is surprising given that the ritzy restaurant is a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus and offers some top views of central London. Aqua Kyoto has now reopened with access to its terrace operated on a walk-in basis. Food (upscale Japanese) is served Monday to Saturday between 12pm-3pm. From then until 11pm, it’s drinks only. As a sundowner, Luxury London recommends the Kyoto Calling – Tanqueray, lemon juice, violet bitter, citrus and soda. Cheers.

Address: 30 Argyll Street, W1F 7EB, London, W1B 3BR
Opening hours: 
Monday – Wednesday 12pm 10.30pm, Thursday-Saturday 12pm – 11pm, Sunday 12pm – 6.15pm
Website:  
aquakyoto.co.uk 

Pergola Paddington

Pergola Paddington has reopened for the summer, draped in faux foliage with banks of communal benches. While technically on ground level, and admittedly less elevated than other venues on this list, the open-air top floor boasts bookable day beds and the al fresco appeal of a rooftop bar. Downstairs leads to a larger seating area with a Perspex roof, where you'll also find an eclectic medley of street food including Pergola veterans Patty & Bun; hot smoked pastrami and sizzling burgers by Salt Shed, Babek kebabs and sushi hand rolls by Temaki Bros.

Pergola Paddington reopened along with Incipo group’s other ventures: Lost In Brixton and The Prince in West Brompton.

Location: 5 Kingdom Street, Paddington Central, W2 6PY
Opening hours: Thursday – Saturday 12pm – 11pm, Sunday 12pm – 10.30pm
Website: pergolapaddington.com

Radio Rooftop, Strand 

On a warm day, Radio Rooftop is like a slice of Ibiza, found at the top of the ME London hotel – all minimalist monochrome decor and white leather sofas, with slow house music and wafting palms. Drinks prices also match the White Isle, with cocktails at £18 and bottles of champagne from £100, steadily climbing to £5750 for a jeroboam of Louis Roederer Cristal 1999.

Following new regulations, bookings are limited to one hour for drinks, and one and a half hours for dining. For a glamorous start to the day, try the weekend brunch menu – served against panoramic views of the Shard and St Paul’s.

Address: 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 7am – 11pm; Friday – Saturday 7am – 1am; Sunday 7am – 10pm. 
Website: radiorooftop.com/london

Alto by San Carlo at Selfridges, Marylebone

What have you missed most during lockdown? If shopping and socialising appear near the top of your list – after friends and family, natch – then satisfy both cravings at Selfridges, where you can bargain hunt in the summer sales before getting your Aparello spritz fix at rooftop restaurant and terrace Alto by San Carlo.  

The shop-top sanctuary, which has a fully retractable roof in case the heavens open, serves hearty Italian foodstuff seven days a week. Outside, Alto’s landscaped terrace is decked with lounge seating, cabanas and four dine-in huts (to book a hut call the restaurant as booking is not available online). Shop until you drop then take a lift upwards for a sky-high slice of little Italy.

Address: 400 Oxford Street, Marylebone, London, W1A 1AB
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 12pm – 7pm, Sunday 12pm – 6pm
Website: sancarlo.co.uk

Coq d’Argent, City of London

A titbit of Square Mile trivia: Poultry, the short street opposite Bank Station, takes its name from the produce that was sold there in the 16th century. The same goes for nearby Bread Street and Milk Street. Fitting, then, that the restaurant perched at the top of No.1 Poultry, one of London’s most divisive postmodernist buildings, should call itself Coq d’Argent – or Silver Rooster.     

The City suntrap has reopened, with the tables on its outside terrace available for lunch and dinner from Monday through to Saturday on a first-come, first-served basis. The restaurant’s weekend brunch offering, Rosé on the Roof, will also be operating every Saturday from 12pm-4pm. Pinstripe suits not required.  

Address: 1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8EJ
Opening hours: 
Monday-Friday 12pm – 3pm, Saturday 12pm – 4pm
Website: 
coqdargent.co.uk

Skylight, Wapping

Skylight at Tobacco Dock may not be the most luxurious rooftop bar on this list, but it does offer unparalleled views of the City's skyline. Spread over three floors of a multistorey carpark-turned-events space in Wapping, it boasts three bars and a street food menu, which this year includes Asian dishes by Hikari and American-style mac 'n' cheese, chicken wings and fully loaded subs by State Side. Major sporting events are shown on large undercover screens and there is also an Instagram-friendly croquet lawn, poised to resume activity soon. 

Address: Tobacco Dock, Pennington Street entrance, St Katharine's & Wapping, London E1W 2SF
Opening hours:
Thursday– Sunday 12pm – 11pm
Website: tobaccodocklondon.com

Aviary, Moorgate  

If you work in the City, you’ll know it’s the same scenario every year: as soon as the sun comes out, so do the queues to get into the area’s handful of rooftop bars. Given that the finance industry is still largely working from home, it’s a good time to visit the Square Mile’s loftiest restaurants. Situated in Finsbury Square, in between Liverpool Street Station and Moorgate Underground, it’s not always easy to secure a reservation at Aviary, despite the restaurant boasting one the largest outdoor terraces in this part of town. Spaces are still limited, owing to social distancing measures, but book ahead and you’ll be rewarded with superb views, stylish surroundings and, thanks to a south-facing veranda, plenty of sun (weather permitting).   

Address: Royal London House, 22-25 Finsbury Square, London, EC2A 1DX
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 11am – 11.30pm, Friday – Saturday 11am – 1am, Sunday 10am – 11pm
Website: aviarylondon.com

Garden Terrace at The Hari, Belgravia

Reopening 1 August 2020

One of London's better-kept secrets, The Hari hotel in London boasts an intimate, open-air garden terrace with a slick retractable roof. Tastefully trimmed with foliage and hanging lanterns, the space comfortably seats 20 and can be booked out for private events. The Hari's cool, contemporary interiors stand out against the postcode’s more traditional offerings, while the menu focuses on high-end comfort food including beef sliders, burgers and steak sandwiches, alongside an array of sharing plates and salads. 

Address: 20 Chesham Place, Belgravia, London SW1X 8HQ
Opening hours: reopening 1 August 2020
Website: thehari.com

12th Knot at Sea Containers London, Southwark  

Reopening in August 2020 (date to be confirmed) 

12th Knot is perched in a glass box atop Sea Containers London, the Tom Dixon-designed hotel on the Southbank. Verdant greenery, velvet furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows accompany iconic vistas of The Thames and St. Paul's Cathedral. Nab a seat on the open-air terrace and work your way through the cocktail menu, served with a selection of sophisticated grazing plates. 

Location: Sea Containers London, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD
Opening hours:
reopening date TBC
Website: seacontainerslondon.com