When — or if — warmer weather sets in, the only way is up to escape London’s smoggy, humid streets. And, let’s face it, nothing beats finding a sun trap with a large glass of something chilled in hand and the promise of eating al fresco. To will the summer on, here are the best places to enjoy food and booze in the sun.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink on a Roof in London
Time to drink and dine al fresco — at altitude
1. Marksman Public House
Sure, the small terrace of east London boozer the Marksman looks down onto Hackney Road traffic, but it’s surprisingly pleasant. There’s limited space but bag a table when the sun is out and it’s a sweet spot to sink a few pints in the afternoon and linger on for some beef and barley buns — sun’s out, buns out.
2. The Boundary Project
Escape the streets of Shoreditch on a warm evening and head to The Boundary Project, where the chic rooftop features both an outdoor terrace and a glass-covered orangery for all-weather enjoyment. But before the night descends into a rosé-tinted haze, order snacks like charcuterie, skewers from the robata grill or a chic seafood platter for two.
3. The Culpeper
Hidden above Commercial Street, dining on the roof of The Culpeper is enjoyable in rain or shine thanks to a quaint greenhouse that looks onto the restaurant’s herb garden. The posh pub-with-rooms offers a what’s-in-season-and-delicious menu. Right now there’s grilled hispi with chermoula, day boat fish with samphire and asparagus with lemon yogurt.
4. 12th Knot Rooftop Bar
The swanky bar on the 12th floor of the Mondrian London hotel is a place for special occasions. Sip a dry martini or a classy punch (FYI: with three types of rum), while admiring views of the Thames and St Pauls. There’s an outside terrace to drink al fresco, or in case of summer showers, take shelter inside on a plush jewel-toned sofa. Booze soaker-uppers are in plentiful supply: lobster rolls, truffled croque monsieur, buttermilk popcorn chicken and more.
5. Galvin at Windows
Chris Galvin is the chef-patron of this fancy Michelin-starred restaurant on the 28th floor of the Hilton at Park Lane. As well as dishes like langoustines with pickles and truffle gnocchi, diners are treated to 360º views of London’s skyline.
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6. Frank's Cafe
London SE15 4ST, UK
It wouldn’t be right to miss Peckham’s multi-story car park stalwart, which opens for the summer. Frank’s dependable negronis and spritzes — and incredible views across London — are the perfect accompaniments to a lingering summer eve. Food is perfect for snacking and sharing: think datterini tomatoes on toast, barbecued lamb ribs and double-fried plantain.
London EC4M 9AF, UK
The entrance to Madison is through a shopping centre and towards the end of the week there may be a queue for the lift up, but the view accompanied by a glass of something refreshing is worth it. St Pauls’ dome rises next to the terrace, foregrounding sweeping city views. Head to the restaurant’s bar and lounge to splash out on cocktails or share a bottle of the decent house red. Top tip: get there early to beat the city slicker crowds.
8. Sabine Rooftop Bar
The towering dome of St Pauls isn’t a bad view to drink in while sipping on a cocktail. Sabine is a shiny new spot overlooking the majestic cathedral, serving fancy-pants cocktails and a short menu of small plates. Most definitely a place to shake off a sweatpant-filled lockdown and slip into something worthy of that view.
London E8 3RL, UK
Pint of, er, Aperol spritz anyone? Classy probably isn’t a word used to describe Netil 360 but it’s FUN. The mood encapsulates that first frisson of summer on every ascent of the seemingly endless stairs of Netil House that ends with popping up on the astro turfed rooftop (although that could just be being out of breath and gasping for a pint of anything). The music and bass level are non-offensively ~vibey~ and an evening up there slips by very quickly… just like those Aperol pints.
10. Dalston Roof Park
Beers from 40FT Brewery, natural wines aplenty, and supporting a local charity? We’re there. Dalston Roof Park not only has all the makings for a good time, all profits go back into Bootstrap Charity, which supports new small businesses, social enterprises and start-ups. As well as providing the backdrop to a great night any day of the week, keep eyes peeled for film screenings and daytime DJ sets later in summer.
11. Forza Wine
“Drinks, snacks, views” is the strapline for Forza Wine — and it does what it says on the tin. But of course, this spot is by the people behind relaxed pasta joint Forza Win, so it delivers all that in an effortlessly cool and unpretentious way. The chilled out atmosphere invites languishing over another glass of wine and grazing on those snacks: panzanella, cauliflower fritti, skirt steak with confit garlic. Get one of everything — there’s a reason one of the choices is “the whole menu” —but leaving room for whatever soft serve is on offer is a must.
London SE1 8NY, UK
Choose a table under cover or alfresco at Seabird, the rooftop restaurant at The Hoxton hotel in Southwark, and prepare for a seafood feast. Something raw is a must — the oyster menu is exquisite — then mix and match plates like prawn croquetas, spider crab bisque, and lobster and chips. The octopus roll is something else: a meaty, smoky tentacle smothered with aioli, in a hot dog-style brioche roll.
13. Roof East
London E15 1BB, UK
Rather than a teddy bear’s picnic, this not-so-nursery rhyme ends in a grown-up playground with food stalls slinging pizza and kati rolls, bars serving booze and areas for crazy golf. Roof East has got something to keep everyone — big kids included — amused.
Food and drink is paired down at The Standard hotel’s 11th-floor rooftop, but menus deliver just what anyone could want for an evening overlooking King’s Cross. An incoming taco truck is amping up the food menu, and a simple drinks menu with a few cocktails and wines on tap hit the spot (especially after sharing a pitcher of chilli-spiked tommy’s margarita…). Kick back and enjoy — and check-in for a sleepover if it gets late.
15. Bussey Rooftop Bar
Looking over neighbouring Frank’s Cafe and across London’s skyline, the view from the top of the Bussey Building only gets better as the sun goes down and the city lights up. Social enterprise Share a Slice slings chewy-crust pizzas and a fully stocked bar will keep the party going all night. It’s a fairly small spot that exudes a cosy, down-to-earth, neighbourhood atmosphere that makes its visitors want to settle in for the evening.
16. Lost In Brixton
The clue’s in the name to find this buzzy rooftop spot — the entrance is hidden within the warren of Brixton Market. It’s by the same group as Pergola but happily, food comes from traders closer to home. Fish, Wings & Tings serve jerk chicken and codfish fritters, The Joint sends out ribs and burgers, and from Jalisco there’s burritos and quesadillas.
17. Cha Cha x Sister Jane
A sleek restaurant on top of a fancy clothing store (sorry, “showroom”), Cha Cha, which has set up camp on the roof of Sister Jane, is very chi chi. Brunch, lunch and dinner dishes are elegant and perfect for pairing with a matcha latte, margarita or a glass of something sparkling.
18. TT Liquor
This summer, the spirit aficionados at TT Liquor will launch a roof terrace at the top of their specialist store and space where they usually hold tastings and classes. With the Overground in eyeline, sip on spritzes inspired by plants in the garden. As well as cocktails there’ll be local beers and wine — and, importantly, covered booths in case the weather turns sour.