Bars with a view

 

London has numeorus roof top bars and some with outdoor terrace space, which, despite the tempermental weather, seem to be on the increase due to their popularity. Some are hidden away from tourist traps and others are found atop the Five Star Hotels in the Capital, which are open to the general public.  

 

5th View Bar & Food

Found on the top floor of Waterstones, the largest bookstore in Europe, in Piccadilly. This recently refurbished venue has fabulous views over London’s rooftops. Open daily from 9am-10pm, it is a convenient location in the West End.

Aqua Shard Bar

Located at level 31 of Western Europe’s tallest building. Fabulous, unique views across London and the River Thames, especially at Sunset. The bar is an atrium bar which has windows 3 storey’s high. Open from noon everyday there is no charge for entry and no reservation is required. However please note there is a strict dress code where sportswear, shorts, flip flops are not allowed. The short signature cocktail list focuses on two key ingredients, gin and tea.

Aqua Spirit

Found at the top of an iconic Regent Street building, this 5th floor bar is a part of the Aqua restaurant group. There are two outdoor terraces to enjoy the Capital’s splendour from, one facing the North and the other South. The latter one has views toward the London Eye. The bar is open daily from noon till midnight and the entrance is found on Argyll Street. The contemporary, comfortable outdoor seating makes this lovely open space, in the centre of town, a favourite to spend the day and evening. There is no need for reservations, but its opening is weather dependent.

Attic Bar

A fabulous, secluded cocktail bar on the 48th floor of the UK’s tallest residential block in the City. It provides 360 degree panoramic views of Canary Wharf, Greenwich and beyond. The stunning bar is is made of black granite and has tiger eye stones, from India set within it. The views are especially amazing at night when all the sky scrapers are lit up. The perfect setting for entertaining friends.

Duck & Waffle Bar

Set on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower in the City, this bar has spectacular views over the City and Canary Wharf. The most popular iconic sites of Tower Bridge, Tower of London, St Pauls cathedral and the Gherkin are crystal clear. Get ready for your ears to pop on the lift ride. There is no entry charge. 

Gong Bar

The highest bar in London! Found in the Shangri-La Hotel in the Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building, at Level 52 this is the best view in London by far. Due to the structure of this unique building, the higher floors have proportionately less space. However, this is an added benefit for the bar as it has three distinct sections each with a different view. The champagne bar has cosy sofas and has the best view of Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf, make sure to get the table at the far end by the window. The main bar is in the smallest section with views of the city of London, including St Pauls, Tower of London and all the new additions to the ever changing city skyline such as the Walkie Talkie and the Cheesegrater. The skypool area, which is only open after 8.30pm, is where you can relax on chaise lounges and sip cocktails admiring the highest pool in London, albeit very small, with London’s skyline as a backdrop. Look out for the London Eye. There is an area at the far end of the skypool which can sectioned off for private parties. Gong is a great place to impress a date, client or even family and friends.  Expect fabulous service and premium priced cocktails which is understandable for the best view in London. As with all hotel bars, little nibbles are served with your drinks. The tempura seaweed crackers served here are so moreish! Make sure to reserve a table at the bar as the hotel’s ground floor hostess will check if you have one. My recommendations for the perfect table are: for romance the Champagne bar, for clients the main bar and for a group the skypool, having experienced all three bars on three separate occasions. Yes, it is my favourite bar in London! Security is tight at the Shangri-La, your bags will be checked before you take the first lift to the hotel reception at level 35. From there the second lift is taken to Level 52. Yes, you need to take two lifts! Enjoy the experience it is well worth it. The bar is open from 5pm daily.

Heights Bar

At the 15th floor of the Saint Georges Hotel in Langham Place, this bar has iconic views of London’s streets and landscape. The bar is an average hotel bar with prices to match, but the view is worth it, considering it is only a stone throw away from Oxford Circus.

Madison

Found at the top of the exclusive shopping centre in the City, One New Change, Madison is a restaurant, tapas and cocktail bar offering spectacular close-up views of St Pauls Cathedral and indulgent views over the City of London. The roof terrace, is open to the general public, you do not have to drink or dine in the venue.  This open air space is the largest of its kind, presenting breathtaking views across entire London.

Min Yiang Bar

The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, has a fabulous bar on the 10th floor which has fantastic views of Kensington gardens, Hyde Park and the London skyline beyond. The perfect place to chill out and have some fantastic Chinese tea or inspirational cocktails whilst admiring the views.

Oxo Tower Bar

Set on the 8th floor of the Oxo Tower Wharf, which has a prominent tower, it is ideally situated on the elegant riverside of the South Bank. With exceptional views of the river and one of the iconic landmarks on the South Bank, the drinks are on the expensive side, but the view is worth every dime! There is a restaurant and brasserie offering contemporary European cuisine with a twist.

Radio Bar

Found at the top of the Melia Me Hotel on the Strand, this amazing rooftop terrace bar is totally unique from most of the other rooftop bars in London. The bar itself is indoors in a huge room with floor to ceiling windows and has DJs playing a fabulous variety of music. The outside space is the biggest for any rooftop bar in the Capital. There is plenty of comfortable seating and secluded areas for private parties. It has a late closing,3am from Thursday to Saturday. There is no entry charge however entering the venue is tricky. Take the lift to the 1st floor to the reception hall and speak to the receptionist who will give you access to the lift which takes you to the roof-top (the lifts are otherwise locked for rooftop access).

Riverside Terrace Bar

Found on the terrace of the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank, this huge outdoor space has its own outdoor bars. Spectacular views of the river and City of London. Enjoy the entertainment and hustle and bustle of the Southbank from this first floor terrace. There is a cafe indoors if feeling peckish.

Sky Lounge

This rooftop bar is part of the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Tower Hill. Found on the 12th floor, it offers spectacular views of Tower Bridge, Tower of London and the Shard. The closest rooftop bar to the iconic Tower Bridge which provides great picture opportunites so don't forget your camera! Plenty of outside seating on both the north and south terraces and lots of cosy seating inside the bar. Various pop up quirky events held throughout the year such as summer beach club and winter retreats. There is a no booking policy and open from 11am every day till late night. A fabulous place to come and chill out and admire the views. Quieter during the day and a busy City crowd in the evenings when you can expect to queue downstairs before gaining access, especially if the weather is good. A good selection of bar snacks available, if you like seafood the lobster rolls and cruncty spicy calamari are very tasty, a good veggie option is fried courgettes in panko breadcrumbs. Must try the quirky fish biscuits, salt and vinegar flavoured fish shaped savoury biscuits which are very moreish, be warned!

Soho Sky Terrace

Part of the Courthouse Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Soho, this funky roof top bar also has a covered section in-case the weather turns sour. Open to the public from 3pm only during the months April to September. The venue may be used for a private event so advisable to call beforehand to check. Listening to the mellow music, fantastic cocktails and bar snacks can be enjoyed soaking in the Soho atmosphere from above.

Sushi Samba Bar

Set on the 38th floor of the Heron Tower in the City, this bar has fabulous views over the City and Canary Wharf. If you want to see the Gherkin close up, this is the place to be. This venue also has two outdoor terraces, one which has a quirky orange tree at the centre of the outdoor bar.

Vista

Found on the roof top of the Trafalgar Hotel, this bar covers the entire roof area and has seating for about 200 people. The seating area is very comfortable and there are outdoor heaters. A unique opportunity to see indulgent views of Trafalgar Square and the heart of London. The bar is open to the public from 4pm and there is a charge of £5 per person. Access to the bar is subject to availability, (it may be hired out for private functions) seasonality, (it is open from March to October and a few weeks over Christmas/New Year) and weather conditions. So it is advisable to call the hotel prior to making a visit.

Windows Bar

The Park Lane Hilton Hotel on the 28th floor has this stunning bar which offers breathtaking views across the capital. It is open from 11am till late. A must visit at anytime of the day or night! No reservation is required.