On a sunny day in London there’s no better place to be than a rooftop bar drinking in the beautiful views while sipping on a boozy beverage. The trouble, however, is that as soon as the sun comes out every one of the other nine million people in London have the same idea and the bars become overrun, resulting in long queues, waiting lists and disappointed punters being turned away – Vista and Radio Rooftop being prime examples.
So, to help ensure you aren’t one of those disappointed people, here’s a list of rooftop bars in London that are near enough guaranteed entry – ordered with the most entry-friendly at the top.
Queen Elizabeth Rooftop Bar
Designed by the Eden Project, the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Rooftop Garden, located atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall, is the ideal location for a beer on a sunny day. Found at the top of the bright yellow staircase, it’s home to a small bar, plenty of tables and chairs, and a large green space that’s perfect if you don’t mind pitching up on the floor. A wildflower meadow, mini allotments and a woodland garden mean the bar itself is as beautiful as the view across central London.
Located on top of Netil House in London Fields, Netil 360 is a unique space that hosts a number of exciting pop-ups. Open to all, it boasts a programme of rooftop bar events each summer – for 2015 they’ve partnered with Red Stripe for a summer of sounds, fun and food. Guests can relax in one of the hammocks, feast on street food and enjoy the beautiful views of east London and beyond. It’s also home to a number of hot tubs which are available to hire – need I say more?
Overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral, the view from Madison Bar is world class and proves a great way to impress your guests – particularly out of towners. Located in the City, it gets busy with office workers on Thursday and Friday nights while sunny Saturdays see it attract a young, glamorous crowd with music playing and prosecco flowing – you might have to queue a short while to get in on these occasions but, being one of Europe’s largest public open air roof terrace, it shouldn’t be anything unreasonable. With heaters above the seats and blankets provided, the bar also stays open throughout the winter and with much fewer people is the perfect spot for a romantic date.
Open throughout summer each year, Frank’s Café is located on the 10th floor of a disused multi-story car park. The temporary rooftop bar is part of the Bold Tendencies Sculpture Project and has become a favourite destination among London hipsters – the sunset views are a staple Instagram feature. Italian cocktails, meantime beers and wine make up the drinks menu while there is a small selection of food. Be warned though – post 7pm it can get very busy so arrive early for easy entry.
This venue is rather small so seating is limited but it also has the benefit of being well hidden and less well known than other rooftop bars, meaning you’re more likely to gain entry. Found at the top of an old office block by London Bridge, the café is home to an outdoor terrace that boasts a very unique view of The Shard – prepare for a neck-straining experience. It’s technically a restaurant, serving a seasonally changing menu, but it’s also open to those looking for just a drink.