Whatever the weather, look to the skies to find some of London’s best restaurants and bars, located on the rooftops. Nothing beats seeing a city from this new perspective, whether you’re visiting for the first time, or were born and raised within the urban sprawl. Thanks to London’s energetic drinking and dining scene, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to elevated eats, be them long-standing staples or cool new pop-ups. If you’re spending time in the Big Smoke this summer, discover some of its best rooftop settings.
The former Princess Alice pub was given a generous nip and tuck to create The Culpeper’s series of stylish interiors, all set within this stately Victorian inn. Industrial accents complement the fresh parquet floors, which extend through the ground floor bar all the way up to the first floor restaurant. Climb the narrow back passageways, passing the dedicated dining area and the guest rooms (considerately designed and cosy, if you’re after somewhere a little different to lay your head) and you’ll emerge in the greenhouse dining room and bar, located on The Culpeper’s rooftop. Here you can sit amongst the boxed vegetable and herb beds, imagining their super-short route from soil to table as you order dinner or a sip a cocktail.
Location: 40 Commercial St, London E1 6LP
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday (11am-12am), Friday and Saturday (11am-2am) and Sunday (11am-11pm)
Nearest transport: Aldgate East (District and Hamersmith & City lines)
Catch this new rooftop pop-up whilst you can and enjoy a quirky experience within the city’s skyline – that’s if you can find the secret entrance, nestled into the Oxford Street’s western end. Climb the staircase to find food from Fudo Shack, with Sashimi Pizza as the signature dish and brunch on the weekends. The design here fuses warehouse scruff with salvage chic, incorporating old school science tables, industrial lighting and a set of rooftop swings – an unusual perch from which to enjoy the view. Those adverse to ‘creative’ ways of presenting beverages look away now – cocktails are served either pre-mixed in tuna cans, or are freshly prepared and poured into jam jars.
Location: 535 Oxford Street, London W1C 2QW
Opening hours: Monday to Friday (12pm-10pm) and Saturday to Sunday (10am-10pm)
Nearest transport: Marble Arch (Central line)
There’s no way you’d chance upon this unusual gem, with a doorway set off-road, around the side of a multi-storey car park in frenetic Peckham. This place earned its stripes the good old fashion way – through word of mouth. Climb the stairwell, passing through the Bold Tendencies art project on floor nine, to reach the comforting cover of Frank’s bright red canopy. There’s no need for industrial style-gimmicks here, and who needs them when you’ve got a functioning car park to play with? Given Frank’s reign over the entire floor, there’s ample standing room and the seating solutions range from built in benches to picnic tables. The drinks menu is concise, incorporating classic cocktails, and the food menu is limited but tempting, with market specials sold at their daily prices.
Location: 10th Floor, Peckham multi-storey car park, 95A Rye Lane, London SE15 4GT
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday (5pm-11pm) and Saturday and Sunday (11am-11pm)
Nearest transport: Peckham Rye (London Overground)
The beauty of this rooftop gem is its location – right in the centre of town, above Oxford Circus. Identifiable at ground level only by a fairly inconspicuous ‘AK’ on the door of number 240 Regent Street, you’ll ascend by lift to leave the buzz and bustle well below. This contemporary Japanese restaurant serves sushi and sashimi dishes, which are presented to stunning perfection. Set menus are available over brunch, on Sundays and over dinner, and changing menus serve to highlight the blooming cherry blossoms and the fresh produce of the season. The cocktails here incorporate Japanese ingredients, such as matcha green tea, yuzu sake and kumquats, giving them a unique twist.
Location: 5th Floor, 240 Regent Street, London W1B 3BR
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday (12pm-1am) and Sunday (12pm-8.30pm)
Nearest transport: Oxford Circus (Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines)
Alfie’s Rooftop Kitchen
Operating for over 40 years, Alfie’s Antique Market near Marylebone is an institution for vintage fashion and 20th-century design enthusiasts. Now, it’s crowned with a daytime kitchen, so visitors can effortlessly refuel after spending some time perusing the collectables on the floors below. The menu here is wonderfully traditional, and incorporates organic and fairtrade products where possible. Tuck into a full English breakfast, omelette and chips, or a good old Eggs Benedict over brunch, then jacket potatoes, a homemade burger, soup or salads make up the menu over lunch. Afternoon tea is available all day, and the drinks menu extends from coffees, teas and freshly squeezed juices to beer, wine and prosecco. This humble spot offers a lovely respite from the city, with views over London’s chimney pots.
Location: The Top Floor, Alfie’s Antique Market, 13-25 Church Street, Marylebone, London NW8 8DT
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday (10am -6pm, last food orders 5pm)
Nearest transport: Edgware Road (Metropolitan, Bakerloo, Circle and District lines) or Baker Street (Circle, District, Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City lines)
Whilst The Boundary’s rooftop is open all year round, it comes into its own over the summer months, when the space doubles in size and the orangery is in full foliage. A Mediterranean-influenced all-day menu can be enjoyed amongst the lemon, clementine and mimosa trees that adorn the decking, as well as expertly mixed cocktails and fine wines. When it comes to the view, you won’t find one that rivals the panoramic stretch of East London before you from here and, if the British weather fails you, fear not, The Boundary has a weatherproof area. Spend summer nights picking over a seafood platter with a glass of something chilled, and be sure to return in winter, when warming raclettes and hot cocktails take precedence, easily busting the cold-weather blues.
Location: 2-4 Boundary Street, London E2 7DD
Opening hours: daily from 10am till late
Nearest transport: Shoreditch High Street (London Overground)
Radio at ME London
Radio is situated on ME London hotel’s 10th-floor rooftop, just moments from the River Thames. It’s the pick of the bunch when it comes to the views, which encompass the city’s iconic landmarks, such as the Shard, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament. Weekend brunch is a fun affair, with a make-your-own Bloody Mary Bar providing a kooky complement to the menu. Radio brings the afternoon tea tradition as up to date as its interiors, with liquid nitrogen-frozen sorbet as a palette cleanser between courses. A delectable tapas menu is served from 12pm-12am, alongside an extensive drinks menu (it included 23 varieties of Single Malt Scotch Whisky at our last count).
Location: 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA
Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday (12pm-1am), Thursday to Saturday (12pm-2am) and Sundays 12pm-1am)
Nearest transport: Temple (Circle and District Lines) or Covent Garden (Piccadilly line)
Pergola on the Roof
With a lofty location 50 metres above White City on top of the BBC’s former television centre, Pergola on the Roof is open especially for summer. As the name suggests, the centre-piece of this al fresco feast is a plant-covered pergola, which is dutifully draped in ivy, wisteria and bougainvillea. There are four restaurants servicing the dining area here, leaving visitors wonderfully spoilt for choice. Heavy hitters Rabbit, Salt Yard, Patty & Bun and LeCoq have all crafted menus to tempt, whilst the accompanying bar complements it all with wines, bubbles, cider, beer and cocktails.
Location: Multi-Storey Car Park, Television Centre, Wood Lane, London W12 7RJ
Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday (6am-11pm), Saturday (12pm-11pm) and Sunday (12pm-9.30pm)
Nearest transport: Wood Lane (Circle and Hammersmith & City lines)
Vista at The Trafalgar
This rooftop spot is known the world over, not least for its unbeatable views over iconic Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards Parade and the Royal Opera House. Whilst the vista is distinctly London, the theme here crosses the pond to South America, with Mexican beer, a dedicated Rum Shack and a menu of salads, grills and light bites. There are a range of cocktail menus to make your way through, which include re-worked classics, signature winners and sparkling delights. Get into the swing of things with a Pyrat Old Fashioned, and raise a glass to your stony neighbour on his stately column, Lord Nelson.
Location: 2 Springs Gardens, Trafalgar Square, London SW1A 2TS
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday (12pm-12am) and Sunday (12pm-11pm)
Nearest transport: Charing Cross (Northern line)
Forest on the Roof (Selfridges)
Forest on the Roof popped up on top of Selfridges’ over winter and, thankfully, is set to stay for summer. The menu here shapes itself around the British seasons, with a focus on both foraged and locally grown ingredients. The dishes nod to woodland life; wild boar, forest-leaf salad and heritage vegetables all make it onto the menus here, which cover breakfast, lunch/dinner and afternoon tea. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic ice popsicles offer a unique refreshment from a sweltering day in the city, and we’ll sure you’ll find room for the Chocolate Forest cheesecake after a grass-fed Hereford rib-eye over a long, leisurely lunch. Reservations aren’t needed for The Terrace Bar, which is accessed by a separate entrance. Here you can enjoy the drinks menu, a pared down food menu and afternoon tea.
Location: Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday (11am-11pm) and Sunday (12pm-6pm)
Nearest transport: Bond Street (Central and Jubilee lines)
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