London’s a beautiful place. But why see it like some common pigeon scuttling around for scraps of chips from the floor? Why not soar like an eagle, nay, a QUEEN’S TOWER RAVEN, and look at the capital city from a new perspective?
I’ll admit, writing a feature on the best rooftop bars in London has been tough. London’s seen a surge of new high rise offices and buildings taking shape, with three or four more due to open next year (each of which will no doubt have their own new take on drinking at a height). Developers have realised the cash money value of shoving a bar at the top of office space, because people don’t want to spend their hard earned pounds drinking warm beer in any old Wetherspoon’s.
For most of us, a view is part of the experience. So how could I possibly narrow it down to just a handful?
The best rooftop bars in London – revealed
After a bit of thought, here are our top places to get high in London. Legally, of course.
Shoreditch is usually first for everything. Because for years now it’s been a hipster’s paradise so of course everything new, weird and wonderful will spring up here.
Set off the busy Shoreditch Road, the building that houses Boundary restaurant is actually a three-piece deal. The Albion Cafe and shop sits on the ground floor. I was first introduced to the cafe by friends about five years ago. I even shared lift space with David Schwimmer (that’s Ross from Friends for all you thickies/non-Friends watching weirdos) heading up through the hotel to Boundary, so it’s a friends kinda place.
Aside from the hotel and cafe, Boundary is an open air rooftop restaurant and bar, with heaters and blankets for cooler nights. It’s got great views of the city and West End.
You’ll have to check opening times though as they only open the rooftop seasonally, and it’s often closed during bad weather.
We’re taking a recommendation with this one, but apparently it’s worth a punt for some pretty decent views. Located near Boundary, near Old Street Station, this bar slash club is more like a beach hut than a city haunt. Popular with arty types and city suits, it houses a real mix of people throughout the evening on its three florrs, the top of which has an open outside space. There isn’t a menu, but don’t worry – if you fancy a cocktail the barmen will simple knock something up for you. It does get busy, so might be worth booking in advance. Let us know if you’ve been there!
Ok, so this may be my favourite place to drink champagne and feel like a real high class (geddit?) posho.
The Shard has three main dining and drinking areas, but you’ll want to head to Aqua Shard, the bar and restaurant part.
With enough mirrors to disorient you even when you’re sober, the bar’s full of celebrations, locals, and out of town tourists who realise they don’t have to pay £30 for the viewing deck, and can instead spend that on a couple of cocktails and a seat each.
The bar looks over the City, the West End and Docklands as well as everything in between, so it’s really an unrivalled view. Cocktails are wonderful and the waiters and waitresses are the kind you’d find in First Class cabin crew.
It’s definitely worth a visit at least once.
I first went to Galvin when they were offering a three course £10 Michelin-starred meal with wine, way way back in 2008.
It was a bit of a nightmare to find by tube, but once we’d got in the lift and all the way up to the 28th floor of Mayfair’s Park Lane Hilton Hotel, we were astounded. The views look over the leafy Hyde Park and the West End, and food was to die for.
The bar was packed so we drank at our table, next to a clearly inebriated older gent and his very young, very Eastern European, er, ‘friendly guest’. A great time was had by all, and it’s just a shame I haven’t managed to visit since. (The waiters also let us do the cheesy thing of taking a million photos. Always good feeling like a tourist in your town.)
What do you think? Have we missed anything out? Well, yes actually. I know I didn’t mention Sushi Samba, Duck and Waffle, Searcy’s at the Gherkin, Vertigo 42 and probably a million others. So tell us in the comments below!