There’s only one direction we’re heading when the sun comes out, and that’s upwards. Much like festivals, Pimms and umm Andy Murray, sipping cocktails with a view of your favourite city skyline has become synonymous with British summertime. So we’ve rounded up the best rooftop bars in the UK to while away a long summer’s evening. Up, up and away from all the traffic and crowds is where the best parties get started…
Best rooftop bars: West London
London Essence Terrace at St Ermin’s Hotel
Overlooking the gardened courtyard at St. Ermin’s Hotel, near St James’ Park, this is our new haunt for al fresco drinking and dining. The new bar and drinks menu offers fresh ingredients from the hotel’s rooftop kitchen garden, honey from the hotel’s own hives. Go for light, lo-cal iconic mixers such as Grapefruit and Rosemary Tonic Water, Bitter Orange and Elderflower or for something a little stronger, the Belsazar vermouths, excellent paired with a London Essence Classic Tonic.
London Essence Terrace at St. Ermin’s is open through the Summer.
Alto by San Carlo, Selfridges
You might only intend to have a drink at Alto, but you’ll end up staying for dinner, such tempting is the seasonal Italian dishes made for sharing (starting at £4.50). Think truffle and pecorino ravioli, basil and prawn risotto, Sicilian arancini, burrata and more. Finish off with the signature plate of mini desserts (yep, that includes tiramisu) with a shot of limoncello.
If the food isn’t enough for you, the venue is highly Instagrammable too, having been transformed into an Italian garden, complete with a floral installation, overhead foliage and citrus trees. You’ll forget you’re even in London.
The Roof Gardens, London
The Roof Gardens is an eclectic venue, worthy of a Katy Perry music video. Flamingos roam the grounds and DJs spin a healthy mix of classics, remixes and mash-ups until 3am, making it a prime party destination. A glamorous crowd gathers at this private members club for some top notch al fresco dining and tickets to their weekend antics are available through Designmynight.com at a great discounted price. Did we mention that they have a meaty BBQ available until 2am?
Best rooftop bars in East London
Madison Terrace Bar and Lounge, St Pauls
The view from Madison‘s terrace puts you at eye level with one of London’s best landmarks: the gorgeous grey dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. Between May and September you can find a virtuous way to take advantage of the view by signing up for a Vinyasa yoga class on the roof at 7am (which costs £13), but the place really comes into its own at dusk, with a buzzy atmosphere, music and cocktails. If you’re feeling decadent order a bottle of champagne and some nibbles – the truffle fries and sautéed mini chorizo sausages are delicious – or cool off with a frozen berry Daiquiri.
Dalston Roof Park, London
For as little as £5 you can become a member of Dalston Roof Park and enjoy a whole load of events, from free film screenings to street food stalls. Newly refurbished in April 2017, it draws a hip crowd thanks to hosting bands such as Basement Jaxx, Rudimental and Disclosure. Mismatched chairs are scattered across the venue creating a laid back vibe that’s the perfect switch-off for after-work drinks.
Boundary Rooftop Bar, London
We’re fans of anywhere that serves cocktails in sizeable pitchers. Add to this the delicious food, panoramic London views and fun staff and you’ve got one helluva hotspot to spend some time this summer. The restaurant is covered so even if the Great British weather should disappoint, your time at Boundary won’t. All the best rooftop bars have a Plan B for the weather. Useful, no?
The Sky Garden, London
Sky Garden has three stunning floors and boasts one of the highest roof gardens in London, making it a must-visit – even if you have a fear of heights. There’s more than one reason why it’s been regarded as one of the best rooftop bars in the UK – it offers quick bites to eat, from breakfast to lunch, not to mention down-the-hatch cocktails for those in search of some evening hedonism. It is renowned for its picturesque view of London which is an Instagram-filtered gift for your social feed.
Netil 360, London
Spice up not only your summer, but your year, and purchase Netil 360’s yearly membership for £120 – it doubles up as an awesome co-working space for freelancers and small businesses. A range of experiences, from yoga to rooftop parties, will be at your disposal alongside the added bonus of being able to bring along one of your friends for free, and boasting one of the best rooftop bars in the UK. You will also receive free entry to their BYOB evenings and weekends which are an absolute hoot and easy on the pocket. We love this place for its low key attitude and unconventional partying.
Queen of Hoxton, London
This summer sees the launch of Queen of Hoxton‘s Lost Vegas Rooftop bar, an experience set to transport you to the year 2030. It’s Vegas, but not as you know it. The ‘post-Trumpaggedon’ world includes a dishevelled Little Vegas Wedding Chapel and on the menu are McVegan burgers, served from an abandoned yellow school bus. Expect immersive events with a focus on sustainability (this is a single-use plastic-free zone) and the popular rooftop film club.
Best rooftop bars in North London
Proud Camden Roof Gardens
Looking more like a sun-drenched Eden than a bar, Proud Camden’s roof terrace is bedecked in botanical greenery and florals, and already attracting the most in-the-know crowd in town. Throughout the summer, there’s a residency from Manhatten Cantina, one of London’s most popular pop-ups serving Mexican-style burgers. After sunset (a view worth waiting for in itself), live DJ sets take you long into the night. Discover it before everybody else does.
Best rooftop bars in Birmingham
Marco Pierre White Champagne Bar, Birmingham
Marco Pierre White’s Champagne Bar is a venue with a 360-view of Birmingham’s skyline and offers a long list of quaffable champagnes. The mixologists are known for conjuring up delicious bubbly cocktails that aim to refresh summer palates.
Best rooftop bars in Manchester
Roof Garden Playground, Manchester
A bit of a hidden gem, Roof Garden Playground operates a work-hard-play-hard attitude as it serves up a vibrant selection of cocktails, champagne, wine, beer and spirits. Come evening, it’s popular amongst city slickers and brings to life a romantic vibe with candlelit lanterns. The terrace and hot tub are available for private hire to help people lap up some rays in privacy.
Best rooftop bars: Glasgow
Ubiquitious Chip, Glasgow
Ubiquitous Chip is a venue full of wonderful curiosities. It has a themed indoor rainforest with plenty of twinkling fairy lights and a simple roof terrace where the good times roll. A great menu offers fine dining and entertainment comes in the form of jazz lunches. If you’re looking for a unique night out or bite to eat, this is your spot.