With outdoor dining reopening on 12 April, spring and summer 2021 are going to be all about the rooftop bar. Luckily London is home to more than its fair share of al fresco bars promising stellar views combined with great food and even better cocktails. So where should you be heading come mid-April? Read on for our guide to London's best rooftop bars – but be quick: tables are already booking up fast.
The Prince, West Brompton
Set across three floors in what was once a traditional British pub, The Prince is an open-air epicurean playground offering a vast array of drinking and dining options. Styled as a classic English garden, complete with floral walls, barrel tables and fairy light-strewn verandas, The Prince is leant a village feel thanks to its row of foodie pop-ups, including Nonna Madonna, Boludo, Rudie’s and Filth&Co. There’s also a summery cocktail list while the open-plan rooftop venue is well set-up to cater to summer’s sporting events. We’ll see you at the bar.
Address: 14 Lillie Rd, Hammersmith, London SW6 1TT
Lost In Brixton, Brixton
Hidden atop Brixton Market and away from the hustle and bustle of the high street below, Lost In Brixton has been conceived to bring together the best of Brixton’s diverse hospitality scene in one place. Beers come courtesy of Camden Town Brewery while the cocktail menu takes a Latin American twist (the Pear Pisco Sour and Spiced Pineapple Punch are our favourites). Food, meanwhile, is delivered to tables directly from the restaurants of Brixton Village downstairs, with fare on offer from Fish, Wings & Tings, Black Bear Burger, Champagne + Fromage and many more.
Address: Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, London SW9 8PS
Perched on top of the Montcalm Royal London House Hotel in Finsbury Square is one of London’s most lavish rooftops dedicated to decadence. Offering unbeatable views over the City, the Aviary team is helping guests make the most of its vast outdoor space come rain or shine with a series of ‘igloos’ styled as elegant private dining rooms and cocktail lounges for the ultimate in outdoor celebrations. Accordingly they book up fast but, if you didn’t organise yourself in time, Aviary’s menu of grill classics, bar snacks and signature cocktails is also served on the restaurant's open terrace. Our is a Peacock Fizz: Chase Rhubarb vodka mixed with grapefruit and rhubarb cordial, peach and Dopff Crémant.
Address: 22-25 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1DX
Boundary Rooftop, Shoreditch
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 open all year round, thanks to a weatherproof pergola and a shed-load of heaters. Having been closed for the last few months, Boundary Rooftop will be welcoming back guests from April, taking bookings for guests lookiung to sample its largely Mediterranean dishes from 5pm. Weather looking less than spectacular? Book a table in the orangery for cocktails in comfort.
Address: 2-4 Boundary Street, Hackney, London E2 7DD
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
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 will reopen in April with its heated terrace availabel for booking and on a walk-in basis. Food (upscale Japanese) is served at lunch on Thursdays and Fridays and for dinner from Monday-Saturday while brunch is available all weekend and a full bar is oeprated throughout. 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
Radio Rooftop, Strand
On a warm day, Radio Rooftop is like a slice of Ibiza 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 starting at £17 and bottles of champagne from £100, steadily climbing to £1,550 for a magnum of Dom Perignon Rose 2004. For a glamorous start to the day, try the weekend brunch menu – served against panoramic views of the Shard and St Paul’s – or for something really special book one of Radio Rooftop's three 'bubbles'. Decked out with sofas and electric fires, there's no chicer place to sip champagne and sup on pan con tomate and seafood platters.
Address: 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA
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, of course – then satisfy both cravings at Selfridges, where you can bargain hunt in the post-lockdown 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 food seven days a week. Outside, Alto’s landscaped terrace is decked with lounge seating, cabanas and four dine-in huts to cater to whatever mood you're in. 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
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 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 offers tables for up to six on its outside terrace for lunch and dinner from Monday to Sunday while the restaurant’s three-course weekend brunch will also be operating every Saturday and Sunday. Menu highlights include grilled yellow fin tuna with ratatouille and basil pesto, duck liver ballotine with fig chutney and a very French take on strawberries and cream. Pinstripe suits not required.
Address: 1 Poultry, London EC2R 8EJ
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 are also Instagram-friendly croquet and petanque lawns, poised to resume activity in May.
Address: Tobacco Dock, St Katharine's & Wapping, London E1W 2SF
Garden Terrace at The Hari, Knightsbridge
One of London's better-kept secrets, The Hari hotel in Knightsbridge 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 a new menu focuses on the lgiht and bright cuisine of the Amalfi coast, with stand-out dishes including pizzette montanare, scialatielli con frutti di mare and cuoppo fritto.
Address: 20 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8HQ
12th Knot at Sea Containers London, Southwark
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: 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD