In case you haven’t worked it out, we are rapidly approaching summer, y’know that hot yellow thing in the sky that makes us rush out to our BBQs, green open spaces and the alcohol aisles in the nearest supermarket. For us Londoners, this means, where beer gardens are at a bit of a premium, it’s time to head to the roof and get drinking!
Rooftop bars are very much on-trend right now no matter what the weather and fortunately London is blessed with many of them; who doesn’t love a gorgeous view over a tasty beverage or two? Now, I’ve been a top sport and have
drank my way around researched London’s top rooftop hotspots to share my favourites with you, you good people. It was tough, but somebody had to do it.
So dear reader, may I present to you the very best in London’s rooftop bars…
Sky Pod Bar, Sky Garden | The City, London
Possibly my favourite view in London, the Sky Pod Bar sits proudly in the three-story glass dome on the 35th floor of 20 Fenchurch Street, not-so-affectionately known by Londoners as the Walkie Talkie building, owing to the building’s distinctive shape. Offering 360-degree sweeping views with sights such as The City of London, The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and further down the Thames, the Sky Pod Bar is a superb venue to enjoy a cocktail or glass of champagne with breath-taking views, mixed amongst the vegetation and canopy of the dome’s landscaped public gardens.
The extensive gardens, high steelwork frame of the building and large glass windows make for a light and airy environment, whilst the buzz of comings and goings of guests and staff make for a welcoming place to catch a social beverage or two. It’s right up my street, as you can imagine.
General admission books up fast but it’s free to enter and occasional walk-ins are permitted too, depending on the time of day you visit. For the more lavish experience, the Sky Garden also features the Darwin Brasserie and Fenchurch Grill on the mezzanine levels above the Sky Pod Bar, which also permit guests general admission, although this obviously comes at more of a premium for the privileged of that stunning view.
The Sky Garden, particularly the Sky Pod Bar, gets a big thumbs up from me.
Sky Pod Bar
Sky Garden, 1 Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF
Galvin at Windows, Hilton Park Lane | Mayfair, London
Situated on the 28th floor of the Hilton on Park Lane, Michelin star restaurant Galvin at Windows fuses modern French-haute cuisine and hand-picked wines with striking views of downtown London.
Very much on the higher-end of my favourite places to soak up the City’s skyline with a glass of champagne or a cocktail, it’s a hugely glamorous and elegant place to marvel at London’s most famous landmarks. This is a great venue if you have something special to celebrate or just want to spoil that special person in your life.
As you can expect, the food here is simply sensational and experience worthy of a post in itself but guests are welcome also at the bar too. An added bonus is that fans of Channel 4’s First Dates may recognise Galvin’s General Manager, Fred Sirieix who appears on the show. Who doesn’t love a fine view and a selfie opportunity?
Galvin at Windows
22 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1BE
Madison, D&D London | St Paul’s, London
When the sun is shining, there are few finer venues in the heart of London than Madison, the sixth-floor rooftop bar and restaurant at the One New Change shopping complex in St Paul’s, naturally giving a fantastic platform to take in the beauty of St Paul’s Cathedral just opposite.
A fully stocked bar offers a great variety of spirits, cocktails, beers, wine and champagnes, whilst the restaurant offers a formal brassiere menu.
Given the open-aired nature of Madison, it’s a fantastic place to visit when the sun is shining; bookings are not necessary and general admission is of course free. Be warned though, Madison is packed-to-the-rafters post-5pm midweek with City types (of which, naturally, I self-identify as…) and wannabe playboys who want to rock a booth with some shades and a bottle of Grey Goose, so later evening or weekend visits may suit you more.
1 New Change, St Paul’s, London EC4M 9AF
Rumpus Room | Sea Containers, London
A little further along the river than the likes of The Sky Garden and The Shard but by no means any less breathtaking, the Rumpus Room is located on the twelfth floor of the Sea Containers building on the bank of the Thames.
With open-balconies, a playful but gorgeous interior and a trendy cocktail menu, this venue screams suave and sophistication, projecting the glamour of modern London. The Rumpus Room provides views of the heart of The City of London alongside Blackfriars Bridge. Can you tell I like it here? I do, just for info.
I do like Madison in St Paul’s as an open-air venue (as mentioned further above), but the Rumpus Room gives sanctuary from the elements whilst simultaneously offering an outdoor feel thanks to it’s huge bi-fold doors onto it’s balconies, meaning that it’s a perfect venue to enjoy sunshine into the late evening.
20 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PD
Hutong | The Shard, London
It’s hard not to include a rooftop bar post without covering The Shard – but the truth, my friends, is that I’ve been more than a little half-cut when I’ve ended up here. That’s largely all I have to say on the matter, but walk-ins for drinks permitted depending on availability and it’s equally as impressive as the likes of The Rumpus Room.
The views of London are fairly awesome but obviously don’t include The Shard itself, something The Sky Garden opposite does benefit from and in my opinion, makes for a slightly better experience. Still, it’s The Shard, right?
Level 33, The Shard, 31 Saint Thomas Street, London SE19RY
Duck & Waffle | Heron Tower, London
Heron Tower is home to the culinary landmark that is Duck & Waffle, the 24/7 restaurant in the heart of The City serving up playful dishes and duck… with waffles.
Forty floors up making it the highest restaurant in the capital, floor to ceiling windows give visitors at Duck & Waffle amazing views of London and given the restaurant is always open, timing can allow for sunrise or sunset views across The City. Special.
Naturally, the food is awesome too, but walk-ins just for a drink are permitted depending on availability – and highly recommended!
If you make it to Duck & Waffle, you may also want to slot in a late night round of mini golf at Swingers London just around the corner, guaranteed to bring much tomfoolery and shenanigans at the end of a night.
Duck & Waffle
110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY
London rooftop bars: elegance, style and sophistication
So there you have it – far from exhaustive – but a collection of my favourite hangout spots to enjoy a glass of bubbly or cocktail into the late evening, with gorgeous views of the London skyline to boot. It’s worth noting that another contender for fantastic views of the city is the bar the CitizenM Hotel Tower Bridge, which I recently reviewed. You may also be interested in the OXO Tower Brasserie or Searcys at The Gherkin for evening dining with stunning views across London.
Whether you’re looking for a venue to impress clients, take a date or enjoy the best of London with friends, these rooftop bars are perfect for you. Enjoy….! 🙂