London comes alive in the sunshine and, whether you’re making the most of some early spring warmth or soaking up the rays in the height of summer, every Brit knows it pays to embrace every opportunity for a dose of vitamin D while you can. Luckily the capital is home to more than its fair share of al fresco restaurants and bars promising stellar views combined with great food and even better cocktails. So where should you be heading this season? Here’s our guide to London’s best rooftop bars — but be quick: tables are already booking up fast.
Alice + Olivia terrace at Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge
Harvey Nichols has teamed up with fashion brand Alice + Olivia to create the Secret Garden – a delightfully whimsical reimagining of the Knightsbridge destination’s rooftop terrace bar and restaurant. Decked out in seasonal blooms and pretty pink furniture, alongside the usual menu of fresh salads and classic comfort food, visitors will be able to select from a limited edition range of cocktails made with Grey Goose Essences vodka. Our pick is the Essences Blush: a blend of Grey Goose White Peach & Rosemary Vodka, Fever Tree soda water and fresh orange juice. Plus, in honour of the Chelsea Flower Show, from 25-28 May all guests will receive a beautiful bouquet when dining or drinking at the terrace.
Until 31 May 2023, 109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ, harveynichols.com
cloudM, Tower Hill
With panoramic views overlooking the Tower of London, cloudM is the perfect spot for a sundowner (or two). With plush sofas and plenty of outdoor seating, this rooftop bar is the go-to destination for tourists unwinding after a day seeing the sights and city workers in need of a break after an equally long day in the office. Paying homage to its location, and the surrounding London landmarks, cloudM’s cocktail menu features the likes of the London Eye (Bombay Premier Cru, Blue Curaçao and ginger liqueur); the Thames
(Bombay Sapphire, mango juice and chocolate bitters); and, obviously, the Tower Of London (ELLC Gin, green tea-apple cider shrub and elderflower liqueur). Fancy a bite to eat? Choose from the English cheese or charcuterie board — the perfect accompaniments to any cocktail evening. See you on the terrace.
40 Trinity Square, EC3N 4DJ, visit citizenm.com
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 an extensive cocktail list (including Gin'n'Jam featuring Hari Gin, blackcurrant jam, lemon juice and tonic water) and a menu focusing on light, bright flavours featuring stand-out dishes truffle arancini, chicken liver pate and satay tofu.
20 Chesham Place, SW1X 8HQ, visit thehari.com
Coal Office, King's Cross
Having opened just last year, the terrace at the Coal Office in King's Cross takes its cues from the Middle Eastern fare offered inside, with an unusual cocktail list boasting treats such as a Basilikum Smash (Italicus, Plymouth gin, basil, lemon and Canaan White) and Avira Fizz (Malfy Rosa gin, Arak Elite, grapefruit bitter, mint and pink grapefruit soda). There will also be a menu of snacks and small plates, including signature breads like Yemini brioche with tahini and schug dips.
2 Bagley Walk, N1C 4PQ, visit coaloffice.com
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.
20 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PD, visit seacontainerslondon.com
Belgravia's coolest hang-out spot Pantechnicon, which blends Japanese and Nordic cultures to offer an enticing array of bars, restaurants and co-working spaces, is also one of London's top places for a sky-high tipple. Its rooftop brasserie boasts both an open terrace and glass-covered area festooned with foliage, making it perfect in every weather. Food takes its cues from New Nordic cuisine and the seasonal menu — think pulled pork croquettes, hand-dived Orkney scallops and Scottish lobster and crab linguine — has been specially curated by head chef Jenny Warner, while expert mixologists shake up spring-themed serves, such as the Rhubard Paloma and the Toasted Espresso Martini.
19 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8LB, visit pantechnicon.com
Booking Office 1869, St Pancras
A roof terrace located between two of London's busiest transport hubs may not sound like the place to while away a sunny afternoon, but the latest addition to St Pancras' Booking Office 1869 bar and restaurant is just the thing for pre-Eurostar libations. High above the hustle and bustle going on below, RoofGarden is an al fresco spot decked out in lush greenery and comfy sofa-style seating, with a menu led by classic cocktails and a considered selection of light and refreshing wines and beers. There's also an extensive range of bar snacks on offer, featuring the likes of Loch Fyne Market oysters, sourdough bread with whipped butter and gordal pitted olives.
Euston Road, NW1 2AR, visit booking-office.co.uk
The Nest at Treehouse London, Fitzrovia
Overshadowed somewhat by its more famous neighbour across the road, The Langham, the Treehouse Hotel is something of a hidden gem in central London. The jewel in its crown is the Nest, a rooftop bar and terrace boasting 360-degree views of the London skyline. This spring, The Nest will host a specially-curated light installation called The Tree Canopy by famed British sculptor and light artist Raphael Daden. Inspired by this artwork — which features a number of pressed tree leaves from London’s Kew Gardens — this season's cocktail menu includes spring-style spritzes and fresh flavours such as The Nest Picante and The Rhubarb Margarita.
14-15 Langham Place, W1B 2QS, visit treehousehotels.com
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 lent a village feel thanks to its row of foodie pop-ups, including Salt Shed, East West Pizza and Temaki Bros. 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.
14 Lillie Road, Hammersmith, SW6 1TT, visit theprincelondon.com
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 Chilli Mango Margarita and Strawberry Mojito are our favourites). Food, meanwhile, is delivered to tables directly from the restaurants of Brixton Village downstairs, with fare on offer from La Nonna, Black Bear Burger, Jalisco and many more.
Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PS, visit lostinbrixton.com
Perched on top of the Montcalm Royal London House Hotel in Finsbury Square is one of London’s most lavish rooftops. Offering unbeatable views over the City, the Aviary team is helping guests make the most of its vast outdoor space with a partnership with Whispering Angel this summer. The collaboration will see the rooftop decked out in plush furniture with plenty of Château d’Esclans’ rosé wines on offer to pair with Aviary’s menu of grill classics, bar snacks and signature cocktails is also served on the restaurant's open terrace. Our favourite is the timeless Oyster Martini: Tanqueray gin, oyster, lemon and lime. Simple, but extremely effective.
22-25 Finsbury Square, EC2A 1DX, visit aviarylondon.com
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 wood-fired fish, Iberico pork, and rib-eye steak while sophisticated cocktails make it the perfect date night spot.
40 Blackfriars Road, SE1 8PB, visit 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's heated terrace is available for booking and on a walk-in basis. Food (upscale Japanese) is served at lunch Monday to Friday and for dinner from Monday to Sunday. Until the end of April, the hotel will be celebrating Sakura Season with a specially-curated floral menu honouring cherry blossom season. The signature cocktail, In Bloom, is a delightful concoction of Kokoro Cherry Blossom Gin Liqueur, Mancino Sakura Vermouth, soda and prosecco. Cheers!
30 Argyll Street, W1B 3BR, visit aquakyoto.co.uk
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 leather sofas, with slow house music and wafting palms. Drink prices also match the White Isle, with cocktails starting at £18 and bottles of champagne from £93, steadily climbing to £5,750 for a jeroboam of Cristal Louis Roederer 1998. 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.
336-337 Strand, WC2R 1HA, visit radiorooftop.com
Alto by San Carlo at Selfridges, Marylebone
What's your favourite summer al fresco activity? If shopping and socialising appear near the top of your list, then satisfy both cravings at Selfridges, where you can bargain hunt in the seasonal 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.
400 Oxford Street, Marylebone, W1A 1AB, visit selfridges.com
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 post-Modernist 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 brunch will also be operating every Saturday and Sunday. Menu highlights include seared sea bass, prawn and south Devon crab risotto; wild roe deer with parsnip puree and cherry-smoked sea trout. Pinstripe suits not required.
1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ, visit coqdargent.co.uk
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 multi-storey car park-turned-events space in Wapping, it boasts three bars and a street food menu, which this year includes German bratwursts, candied bacon cheeseburger and truffle fries. Major sporting events are shown on large undercover screens and there are also Instagram-friendly croquet and petanque lawns.
Tobacco Dock, St Katharine's & Wapping, E1W 2SF, visit skylightbars.com
Read more: The best restaurants in Kensington & Chelsea