Boundary rooftop bar. (Photo: Helen Cathcart)
By Lawrence Ferber
Forget London’s infamous indoor pubs. At long last, the city has come out of the (literal) dark with a fabulous rooftop bar scene, stretching from the east’s hip Shoreditch to the posh, iconic West End. Here we round up nine of the best spots to enjoy drinks with views of the ever-modernizing cityscape.
Rooftop Bar & Grill at Boundary
Shoreditch buzzes with hipsters, pop-up shops, galleries and the design-centric 12-room luxury hotel Boundary.
Its open-air rooftop bar is rich with greenery — potted plants and herbs, a pair of century-old olive trees, a live grapevine canopy over a weatherproof, enclosed 48-seat grill section — plus a fireplace and plenty of seating.
(See also: Thursday Night: London)
The crowd is well-heeled young professional, and the cocktail list includes individual libations ($16) and sharing pitchers ($42). The food’s quite solid, too.
Drink this: The juicy Rooftop Passion, with Ketel One vodka, passion fruit liquor, lime and raspberry.
(Courtesy: ME London)
Radio Rooftop Bar at ME London
Located just across from Somerset House, epicenter of London Fashion Week, this design-rife hotel is straight out of a Karl Lagerfeld fever dream.
A nine-story marble-walled atrium with skylight may be the one-year-old ME’s jaw-dropping showpiece, but Radio Rooftop Bar is its crowning glory. (The name’s a nod to the building’s past as BBC broadcasting center.) A clubby vibe, DJ tunes, black leather seating, retractable rooftop and prime views of South Bank, London Eye, Shard and Gherkin keep this spot packed.
Staying overnight? Book the two-level ME Suite, which includes private, priority entrance to Radio and a glass-enclosed, rooftop view room.
Drink this: Flower in the Rain, a mild, fruity concoction of Grey Goose, rhubarb, lemon, cranberry and strawberry juices topped with flower petals.
Angler Rooftop Terrace. (Photo: Guy Montagu-Pollock)
Angler Rooftop Terrace at South Place Hotel
Crowning the two-year-old property South Place, Angler baits the crowd with Michelin-starred seafood dishes and reels’em in with a gorgeous rooftop terrace.
Woven Crinoline chairs by Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, potted herbs and olive trees offer a “little piece of Provence” amid unmistakable London surroundings. The cocktails are potent.
Drink this: The French Connection, with Hennessey cognac, Green Chartreuse, honey and bay leaves served in a Julep Tin.
(Courtesy: Coq d’Argent Restaurant)
Yacht D’Argent at Coq d’Argent
If you aren’t able to hang out on a super-luxe yacht along the French Riviera this summer, the newly unveiled Bar & Grill terrace at London restaurant Coq D’Argent endeavors to replicate the feeling (without seasickness).
A dedicated Yacht menu features Gallic-gone-fusion and local seafood fare, like a scallops and chorizo croque monsieur, plus a spate of refreshing été cocktails.
Drink this: Hibiscus and Peach Fizz: hibiscus and peach liquors shaken with gin and a splash of bubbly.
Frank’s Café & Campari Bar
A reason to venture to London’s up-and-coming (and still somewhat rough) Peckham is this annual pop-up summertime rooftop bar.
The work of Bold Tendencies Sculpture Project, this carpark space draws arty hipsters between June-September for its widescreen views, cheap drinks and tasty housemade fare like BBQ bulgogi pork belly.
Have Candy Crush or good conversation at the ready, though — the lengthy lines and waits for drinks can test one’s patience.
Drink this: The 2014 menu was yet to be unveiled, but Moscow Mules, Negroni and London Lagers were priced below $10 last year.
SUSHISAMBA at Heron Tower
No, you didn’t fly overseas 3,000 miles for a SUSHISAMBA. Yet this outlet’s location, within spitting (and Peeping Tom) distance of the Gherkin on the 38th and 39th floors of East London’s Heron Tower, is literally tops.
The ride up in an insanely fast panoramic glass elevator is awesome in itself, while you’ll find oodles of visual drama in the glass and bamboo-enclosed dining space, sprawling open-air terrace bar, and spiral orange staircase connecting the levels.
Drink this: Chucumber, a fresh cucumber water-based blend of Hendrick’s gin, plum wine, Maraschino liquor, lime, sugar and plum bitters.
The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden. (Photo: Belinda Lawley)
The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden
Located right along the river Thames, arts and performance venue Southbank Centre — it’s kind of like BAM meets MoMA with a Smorgasburg on weekends — brings the art of Zen to its spacious rooftop with Eden Project’s landscaped stretch of ambrosial urban grassland.
A menu of light snack/lunch fare and beverages perfectly accompany the view and Eden-like vibe.
Drink this: A quintessentially British, chilled Pimm’s with lemonade.
Vista at The Trafalgar Hotel
Overlooking Trafalgar Square, this superbly located terrace bar is comparatively tourist free.
Vista’s cocktail menu runs the gamut from speakeasy classics to signature originals, plus refreshing alcohol-optional libations. Each drink’s individual hashtag is listed to boot.
Drink this: The Peckham Rye Sharer (#PRyeShare), a summery mix of ginger and lemon tea, apple juice, lemonade, fresh mint, and cinnamon stick garnish. Wild Tea Vodka is optional.
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