Rooftop bars bring the high life to London: Six hidden waterholes that offer stunning views of the city that even the locals don’t know, from Covent Garden to Waterloo
- DJs play relaxing sunset sets at the Radio Rooftop Bar on the edge of Covent Garden
- Skylight Bar in Wapping has a croquet lawn and serves dishes such as churros with chocolate sauce
- Take in views of St. Paul’s Cathedral as you dine on the top-floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer Hotel
Each week, our holiday hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a holiday topic, doing all the groundwork so you don’t have to. This week: Rooftop bars in London.
Climb to the top to see London that few other visitors can enjoy – that’s the advice Blue Badge qualified tour guide Paul Metcalfe gives his guests.
“There are now dozens of rooftop bars and restaurants in London, each with a different atmosphere and each with views that even locals don’t know about,” he says.
Head to the top to see a few other London visitors enjoy in the city’s rooftop bars. One option is The Standard hotel’s rooftop bar (pictured) – it’s located near St Pancras and King’s Cross stations, making it a great first or last stop if you’re visiting London by train.
Sip cocktails in the evening at the Radio Rooftop Bar on the tenth floor of the ME Hotel in the West End
Top tip is the Radio Rooftop Bar, perched on the tenth floor of the ME Hotel on the edge of Covent Garden in the West End.
The ‘big four’ sights of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, the London Eye and Big Ben are all visible from the terrace. Non-residents can reserve tables for everything from eggs benedict at breakfast to champagne cocktails in the evening. DJs play relaxing sets as the sun sets (radiorooftop.com).
Even closer to the heart of the city is Hotel Indigo on Leicester Square. On the ninth floor, there’s a sleek bar and dining room plus a wraparound terrace with tables overlooking the bustle below. Service begins with a mid-morning brunch and ends with a candlelit dinner after the theater (lsqrooftop.com).
A livelier rooftop experience is offered just south of the Thames and the National Theater near Waterloo. Up to 600 guests can crowd onto Bar Elba’s huge terrace where colorful awnings and fairy lights make the nights magical.
On the ninth floor of Hotel Indigo on Leicester Square, you’ll find a stylish bar and dining room, plus a panoramic terrace with tables overlooking the bustle below.
Service in the bar and dining room at Hotel Indigo (pictured) begins with a mid-morning brunch and continues through to the candlelit dinner after the theater
Up to 600 guests can crowd onto Bar Elba’s huge terrace above, where colorful awnings and fairy lights make nights magical
At weekends, live music and stand-up comedy vie with views of the Shard and London Eye, and groups can reserve a “cocktail tree” with drinks ready when you arrive (bar-elba. co.uk).
Take a short stroll down the cobbled streets of Wapping, just east of Tower Bridge, to find an even more imaginative rooftop bar. At Skylight Bar on the old Tobacco Dock, there’s a croquet lawn, shuffleboard, ping pong, and bocce courts. The menu is described as “street meets comfort food” with everything from tacos to churros with chocolate sauce (skylightbars.com).
The (fake) grass is just as green at The Rooftop bar at The Standard hotel. It’s located near St Pancras and King’s Cross stations, making it a great first or last stop if you’re visiting London by train.
Head to the Skylight Bar on the old Tobacco Dock (pictured) and you’ll find a croquet lawn plus shuffleboard, table tennis and pétanque courts
Margaritas are the most popular drink at The Rooftop bar at The Standard hotel, which is open until 11 p.m.
What would be the tallest taco truck in the capital (pictured) offers snacks at The Rooftop bar at The Standard hotel
It’s open until 11pm and the Victorian clock tower of St Pancras Station looms alongside it while the BT Tower shines in the distance. Margaritas are the most popular drinks while what’s said to be the capital’s tallest taco truck offers snacks (standardhotels.com).
Fine dining with views of the gray dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral is offered on the top-floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer hotel in the heart of Old London.
Near the Thames, but lost in a maze of old wine warehouses and boarding houses, the menu has a ‘best of British’ flavour. Orkney roast scallops and Cornish lamb are favorites (vintryandmercer.com).
Fine dining with views of the gray dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is on offer on the top-floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer Hotel (pictured) in the heart of London’s Old Town
The menu on the top-floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer Hotel has a ‘best of British’ flavor – roasted Orkney scallops and Cornish lamb are favorites