This past few weeks have been the hottest of the year so far. If, like us, you spent them productively, you’ll have whiled away the days atop some of London’s best rooftop bars — the perfect places to sip a cocktail while catching some rays and composing the perfect Instagram post.
But, if this is your first summer in London, then you’ve got a lot to learn. Most rooftop bars — pop-ups and car parks masquerading as the real deal — will leave you sorely disappointed. But, whether you’re on the hunt for a garden-like rooftop or a terrace that tops a private members clubs for exclusivity, we’ve got you covered for the best.
So, while the weather persists, we suggest you work your way down this list until you find your perfect open-air haunt for the rest of summer. And, next time the sun comes out, you’ll know exactly where to go.
For a taste of the Mediterranean, visit the Malfy Gin Bar at Sky Garden
Our first suggestion may not be al fresco, but it makes up for a lack of open-air drinking with some of the finest views in the capital. Featuring featuring lemon trees, vines and lush botanical foliage, this Sky Garden pop-up can be found on the 36th floor of 20 Fenchurch Street — and brings a taste of the Amalfi Coast to the City.
And the carefully curated menu is as refreshing as drinks lists come. Featuring Malfy’s iconic gin flavours, there are a handful of combinations to choose — including the Malfy Lemon and Fever-Tree lemon tonic, Malfy bloody orange paired with Fever-Tree aromatic tonic and the Malfy grapefruit and Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic. Visit until the end of September.
See all of Aldgate from Jin Bo Law
Sat atop the Dorsett City Hotel, you’ll find this wonderfully creative cocktail bar that promises to shake up your summer. And, with a heavy Asian influence, you’ll find a lot of its signature cocktails contain sake.
We would recommend opting for a glass of Mandariňa, made up of Monkey Shoulder whisky, Kumquat liqueur, sake, lime and sugar. It’s an exotic twist on your traditional whisky cocktail.
For a 12-month al fresco option, The Rooftop at The Trafalgar St. James
If you’re visiting the city and end up staying at the effortlessly stylish The Trafalgar, make sure you catch the lift to the top floor, where you’ll find ‘The Rooftop’. Covered, heated, blanketed and with fully-exposed areas, this an all-year-round rooftop.
If you’re looking to start your night off with a bang, we suggest going for their Gunpowder Plot cocktail, with Sipsmith VJOP, Cocchi Torino, Mondino Amaro, grapefruit bitters and woodsmoke.
Sitting atop the Strand is Radio rooftop
Located on one of the more iconic stretches of tarmac in London, Radio rooftop can be found peering over the Strand. And you can see most of the capital from its 10th floor vantage point.
So, if you find yourself wondering down the Strand and in need of a drink, we suggest popping up and opting for their simplified vanilla Espresso Martini made from Grey Goose Vanille, Patron XO Café and an espresso shot.
For a botanical evening, head up to Pergola Olympia
Having recently sprung up on top of one West London’s biggest buildings, the latest addition to the popular Pergola family appears to be bringing that same popularity to the people of Kensington.
While you’re up there, and before you start snapping away in front of the big neon sign, we suggest you get yourself a Jamaican Mule to add a tropical twist to the evening.
Perched on a pub, you’ll find The Culpeper rooftop
You’ll find this curious space atop one of East London’s finest pubs. The Culpeper has wonderfully transformed their space, adding a great covered area for the colder months and a wacky open-air offering during summer.
If you get a bit peckish while you’re up there, we wholeheartedly recommend the charred Yorkshire pork belly ribs that come smothered in BBQ sauce.
Filled with creatives, White City House
This is one for the creatives out there. If you’re lucky enough to get access to the private members club made for those in the creative industry, you’ll want to hot-foot it up to the top floor of White City House, where you’ll find not only a pool, but also a bar.
While you’re up there, quench your thirst with a Soho Negroni; made from Bombay Sapphire, Martini Bianco and Suze.
Be teleported out of the city on the Ham Yard Hotel roof terrace
This rustic roof terrace is one of the best places to find yourself on a hot day. Rise above the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus traffic thanks to its tranquillity. They’ve even got two beehives, tended to by their own dedicated beekeeper.
For some citrus-tinged refreshments while you’re up there, we’d recommend going for a Better Late Than Never, made up of Woodford Reserve, Belsazar dry, clementine oleo saccharum and orange bitters.
Now find out how to get the best seat in a restaurant…
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