Savvy Londoners know that the only way is up when it comes to socialising in the warmer months. Here’s our countdown of the top 10 rooftop bars to make the most of the summer.
1. Sushi Samba
This Brazilian/Peruvian venue on Bishopsgate is totally over-the-top – and that’s why we love it. Its outdoor terraces are the highest in Europe and offer breathtaking 360-degree views of the City. The Culinary Cocktails (Coconut Seviche, anyone?) that take their cue from the menu; if you are feeling a bit more conventional, ask the team to whip up a Sambatini and discover what’s flavour of the month.
Located atop the One New Change shopping arcade, Madison’s offers laid-back luxe in the heart of the City. St Paul’s is a neighbour and the views stretch on for miles – if you’re not glued to the tennis, that is. Madison has a fantastic events program that includes big screens where you can watch Wimbledon whilst sipping cocktails. Which is what summers are made for.
3. Kensington Roof Gardens
Green space comes at a premium in the capital so when the sun comes out, get yourself up to Kensington Roof Gardens and install yourself amongst the greenery. This iconic venue is an oasis in the middle of Kensington High Rise and has an idyllic terrace where you can ponder the extensive drinks list.
4. Radio Rooftop Bar
Want the Ibiza vibe, without the Ibiza price tag? Look no further than Radio, located in the ME building on The Strand. An express lift takes you straight to the 10th floor where white sofas, Spanish-infused tapas and cocktails await. At Radio the drinks flow until 2am – ample time to take in some of London’s most iconic landmarks, from the London Eye to Big Ben and beyond.
5. The Shard
Its design may have had divided opinion but few can deny that The Shard has a good view or two. Aqua Shard, with its spectacular, three-story high atrium bar, is the best place to soak them up. There’s no need to book so stroll in and enjoy one of the signature tea cocktails, 31 floors in the air.
6. Frank’s Café
A bar on top of a car park in Peckham sounds like it shouldn’t work –but Frank’s Café doesn’t play by the rules. To start with, children and dogs are both welcome. If you like Campari, you’ll love the cocktail list. If you don’t, go anyway. There’s plenty more to wet your whistle and you’ll fall instantly for the laid-back summery vibe.
7. Rumpus Room
The 1920s-themed Rumpus Room at Mondrian London aims to take you back for a party the Bright Young Things would be proud of. Every detail has been considered, from the floor-to-ceiling windows to dangling chandeliers and Long Island Old Fashioneds that you need in your life. On Wednesdays, there’s live music as part of the ‘Skyline Sessions’, the perfect accompaniment to the sweeping views outside.
8. Oxo Tower
If you want to add a sense of occasion to your evenings, the Oxo Tower’s terrace high above the Southbank won’t let you down. The food menu is top-notch but if you’re just after sundowners, the experienced bar staff know their way around a cocktail shaker.
Find the hidden entrance to this quirky Oxford Street pop-up and you’ll be rewarded with cocktails served in tuna cans and a street food menu that puts fried chicken alongside seabass sashimi pizza. It’s the perfect spot for a lazy lunch or a hazy summer evening, with unrestricted views down one of the world’s most famous streets.
10. Aqua Spirit
Come summer, London’s well-groomed set take their post-work tipples at Aqua Spirit. The menus have a Japanese theme – think salted edamame and cocktails with names like ‘Cherry Blossom’ and ‘Secret Ninja’. It gets busy as you can’t book, but with two terraces, plenty of standing room and fabulous views across the Soho and Mayfair rooftops, who needs to sit down anyway?