It’s finally summer in London — the season when the city’s beer gardens and terraces shine in the warmer weather. But while imbibing outdoors is a must-do activity during London’s summer months, it’s up top at rooftop bars where the real party goes down. Here are five spots to really raise a glass to the city.
London’s latest hot spot is Radio, a terrace on the roof of the recently opened hotel, ME London, located in the city’s bustling Strand area. The hotel was once Marconi House (hence the name, after Guglielmo Marconi’s world-changing invention of the first radio broadcast in 1922) among other things since the building was originally constructed in 1868. And now, the building’s Art Deco exterior is a red herring — the 10th floor rooftop oozes modernity, from the sleek white sofas right down to the patio heaters. The cocktail list is inspired too, from the fruity gin-based Electric Light Company to the spicy Radio-Active, made with Grey Goose vodka. A slew of London’s key landmarks are visible from Radio, including the Eye, The Shard, the Houses of Parliament, and St Paul’s Cathedral.
There’s nowhere quite like The Roof Gardens, a lush oasis covering one-and-a-half acres six stories above Kensington High Street. Head to the 7th floor restaurant and bar, Babylon, to enjoy cocktails (the apple mojito is particularly good) and a fine wine list overlooking the gardens and the city skyline beyond. But don’t forget to have a walk around the gardens themselves, which are free and open to the public. There’s a Moorish style Spanish garden based on the Alhambra, a Tudor garden hung with wisteria and an English woodland garden with more than 100 species of trees, and a duck pond, plus four resident flamingos.
Atop the Trafalgar Hotel in — you’ve guessed it — Trafalgar Square, this rooftop bar boasts an unbeatable view over the iconic piazza below from its corner locale. This is a laid-back bar, perfect for daytime drinks or a chilled out sundowner. Take a seat along the rail and watch tourists going in and out of The National Gallery and the pigeons gathering around the fountains, all presided over by Nelson’s Column. The cocktail selection is worth exploring, too. Try the Perfect Host, a mix of Bacardi rum, fresh celery, lime and apple juices, sugar, egg white and black pepper created by head mixologist Nelson Bernardes.
As you might expect from London’s trendy East End area, the rooftop of Queen of Hoxton (a bar, club and art gallery) is home to all manner of hip pop-up events and its popular summer film club. Should you choose to visit for a movie (shown nightly throughout July, Sunday through Thursday at 9 p.m.), you’ll be given blankets and headphones for your convenience, and there’s plenty to eat and drink while you watch films such as The Silence of the Lambs or Grease 2. Expect frozen cocktails such as the Bluelush (Beefeater gin and blackberry purée) and a menu of barbecue favorites such as marinated lime, ginger and coriander salmon fillet or a pulled pork sandwich with whisky barbecue sauce. Don’t forget the fashion-focused crowd, too. There were parties aplenty last year, between the Olympics and Queen’s Jubilee, and this summer promises a jam-packed schedule as well with live DJ sets, ukulele sessions and more.
We challenge you to find a better view of St Paul’s Cathedral than from Madison. Located six stories up on the rooftop of the new One New Change development, this welcoming bar is practically next door to the famous cathedral — so bring your camera for snaps of the iconic dome. A stunning glass structure that houses the indoor bar and restaurant was designed for optimal viewing opportunities of the London skyline, but the outdoor terrace is the place to be. Choose from more than 150 different bottles of wine, or opt for a signature cocktail such as the refreshing Strawberr’Le (Finlandia vodka, Limoncello, prosecco). Tapas are on hand, too, with options ranging from ceviche to croquettes to salt and pepper squid.
Photo Courtesy of ME London