Our ultimate guide to London rooftop bars
We round up the best London rooftop bars that will keep you entertained al fresco
From classic rooftops to rustic new hipster inventions, our London rooftop bars guide will have you traversing from east to west in search of hot views and cool cocktails.
You'll find central London's rooftops are ideal for good food and drink, but if it's views you're after, head outside of our capital's beating heart for some of the most stirring, from Frank's Cafe, for instance, that name check the whole of London.
Elsewhere, fans of live music get an elevated experience on the rooftops, there's more reasons to visit the ex-BBC Television Centre and our favourite Shoreditch pub invite you to follow the second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning, 'til you'll reach Neverland...
From east to west, here's our guide to switching things up a notch this summertime.
London rooftop bars: central London
The Oxford Street One: Sisu, Oxford Street
What's the scoop? Last year's popular Oxford Street rooftop bar, Notch, has been updated and renamed. It's now called Sisu, but owners have kept the best bits of Notch – good value cocktails, an unrivalled location on Oxford Street – but these views can't compete with the views from rooftops further out of town. The new 2017 look has two distinct areas, Social and retrEAT, and in their own words, the rooftop is "a playground for people to make their own."
Why go? For cared-for cocktails and street food on a rather anonymous stretch of Oxford Street. Convenience indeed.
The Riverside One: Rumpus Room
What's the scoop? The twelfth floor of the Mondrian London hotel has a casual and relaxed US beach bar feel. Think hot pink neon signs and startling mirrors to guide you from the lift to the bar, where foliage and playful splashes of peacock blue are inspired by The Hamptons, in a joyfully playful way.
Why go? Not strictly a rooftop bar, this venue has a lengthy outdoors balcony on the top floor of the hotel, so there's never a reason to fret about the weather.
Website: Rumpus Room
The Glamorous One: The Roof Deck Bar & Restaurant
What's the scoop? Selfridges reimagine their rooftop restaurant twice a year, and this summer they're off to California. So dishes take a lighter, healthier stance, and there's fabulous interiors, and much flora and fauna.
Why go? Seven seasons into their winter/summer themes and the atmosphere up here still somehow manages to feel fresh and exciting, like a new opening every season.
Website: Roof Deck Bar & Restaurant
London rooftop bars: North London
The Noisy One: Camden Roof Gardens at Proud Camden
What's the scoop? The iconic ex-horse stables in Camden Market have always been home to a modest rooftop that housed live acoustic music. But following an expensive refurbishment, a much bigger rooftop - and plumped-out cocktail menu - have now made this prized spot more of a modern destination.
Why go? The rooftop's 2017 theme is an English country garden, with striking rockeries and water features to stroll between in calm contrast to the bustling market below.
Website: Proud Camden
London rooftop bars: East London
The One to Book-Ahead: Boundary, London
What's the scoop? Rise above the rest of Shoreditch at the Boundary, which serves Mediterranean cuisine in a humble conservatory setting, with double the amount of space for mingling on the roof outside.
Why go? Terence Conran designed the boutique hotel below, which doesn’t just look good, the cocktail menu shows off too. Order a Rooftop Spring Punch or Hedgerow Sling and arrive an hour earlier than the early crowd to guarantee no queues. But if the heavens decide to open, there is no need to despair, as chic French bistro-bar Tratra, tucked away in the Boundary's basement, is there to offer solace and shelter.
Headed up by Stephane Reynaud, Tratra's food is largely inspired by recipes from the Ardèche region in south-central France. While the charcuterie platter (for two) abounds with more types of saucisson than you have ever heard of – the terrine of rabbit and chorizo is worth stocking up on as is the chorizo de Bigorre – the real draw to this underground tavern is Tratra's extensive wine list, which features more than 600 French wines. It's not somewhere to take a hot date as its interiors verge on the corporate rather than the intimate side of things, but it's definitely one to put on the to-do list if scouting out the best wine bar in the city is on your agenda.
Website: The Boundary
The Local's One: Netil 360, London Fields
What's the scoop? A fine slice of the authentic London Fields lifestyle, this relaxed rooftop bar with fine views and good craft beer often gets packed - arrive before 6.45 to minimise chances of queuing.
Why go? For best views of east London's skyline, and the sweeping panorama, only matched by Frank's in Peckham.
Website: Netil 360, London Fields
The Party One: Dalston Roof Park, London
What's the scoop? Dalston Roof Park has a rich programme of events throughout summer that champions burgeoning artists. Rudimental, Jessie Ware and Disclosure have graced its unassuming setting – so it’s got an added cool factor.
Why go? For a higher energy, longer day out. Live DJs are often ticketed (at fair prices) and the street food is of equal par too.
More information: Dalston Roof Park
The Themed One: Queen of Hoxton
What's the scoop? Queen of Hoxton's seasonal refits are now the things of London legend. Gone is the Viking wintertime
pop-up, and for summer, follow the second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning, and you'll reach Neverland.
Why go? The benefits of a trip to Neverland on the rooftop of the iconic Shoreditch bar include themed cocktails like the Mermaid Slushie (layered Frosecco, peach liquor, orange and cranberry juice and blue curacao) and the Floating Fairy (Absinthe cocktail). Shots are served in clam shells and there's and there's Never Never Land Ribs, and Peter Pawn Prawns to eat and a range of workshops include life drawing and mermaid crown making.
More information: Queen of Hoxton
London rooftop bars: South London
The Iconic One: Frank's Cafe, Peckham
What's the scoop? Frank’s occupies in an unlikely setting; atop a multi-story car park in the heart of Peckham. The drinks menu offers staples, from Pimm’s to Negronis and their signature Campari, while a selection of small plates keeps the crowd (and that there are) well fed.
Why go? This low-key spot is buzzing with local residents having casual drinks; alternatively Frank's works as the first port-of-call on a bar tour of the area. You'll be glad to hear that Frank's Café boasts easily the best views of the capital.
More information: Frank's Cafe
London rooftop bars: West London
The Dressy One: Fifth Floor Café, Harvey Nichols
What's the scoop? There's greenery aplenty at this roof terrace hidden away on the fifth floor of the department store. Famous for gin, and gin cocktails, the intimate terrace has enough rooftop heaters to suit the post-shopping crowd later at night, before or after dining at the in-store restaurants.
Why go? To drop after you shop. The terrace isn't quite big enough to make it a stand-alone destination, but it's jolly lovely if you're in the area.
More information: Fifth Floor Cafe
The Foodie One: Pergola on the Roof
What's the scoop? Incipio events "take unloved and unused spaces and turn them into beautiful outdoor destinations". This foodie hub on top of the old BBC Television Centre building in Shepherd's Bush is unusual for inviting fully-fledged restaurants to exhibit, rather than street food pop-ups.
Why go? This year's theme is The Hamptons, so there's reasons to dress up, as well as an intriguing collision of foods: delicate small plates from 8 Hoxton Square, godly comfort food from Breddos Tacos and Patty & Bun, and Mediterannean seafood from Salt 'n' Sauce.
Website: Pergola on the Roof