The best rooftop bars in London

London’s certainly not short of a drinking spot, a fact that has remained true for several centuries. While the humble British pub still holds an important place in the city’s culture (and remains the cause of many a foggy-headed Saturday morning), London’s evolution into a twenty-four-hour metropolis has resulted in a clutch of rooftop bars which sparkle any day of the week, whatever the weather.

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Located on Redchurch Street in ever-trendy Shoreditch, The Boundary’s rooftop bar flourishes with the creative flair of one of London’s most respected designers, Sir Terence Conran. Infused with the influences of his beloved Mediterranean, the heated Orangery space provides spectacular views over East London, however drab the weather beyond its large windows while containing the very best of traditional pub features: a wood fire. Open from 11.30am until 11 pm, it’s a reliable choice for lunch, afternoon cocktails, or after-dark frivolities, although tables in the outdoor terrace area can’t be reserved in advance. A little further north, on the edge of London Fields, Netil360 boasts fully-panoramic views and is known as a prime place to take in the London sunset. Its industrial chic-inspired interior hums with a casual crowd relaxing around long tables after a busy day; meanwhile, the bar is well-stocked with local favourites, including spirits from the East London Liquor Company and lager from Truman’s, a London institution operating since 1666.

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With a sublime position on Regent’s Street, Tapas bar Aqua London has not one but three rooftop terraces to choose between

With a sublime position on Regent’s Street on the edge of Covent Garden, Tapas bar Aqua London has not one but three rooftop terraces to choose between, offering gently-lit romantic spaces with soft seating perfect for snuggling while gazing out over the central London rooftops. Just like at The Boundary and Netil360, you won’t find a reservations book insight, so get there early to guarantee the chance to sample the eclectic cocktail menu. The terrace at Omeara is rather subtler all around. However, this petite space has a secret garden cum South American plaza feel and looks directly towards the bell-towers and stained-glass of Southwark Cathedral, and modern icon The Shard beyond. The small, dedicated bar might be a little limited when it comes to drinks (there’s a larger bar inside), but the benefit is that it’s wonderfully unobtrusive.

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With a brightly-coloured décor that’s far from unobtrusive, and which changes at the beginning of each summer, Queen of Hoxton sports an off-the-wall cheeriness that seems to brighten the entire area. Its terrace is large enough that there’s always somewhere to sit (should the live DJs not have you up on your feet) and enjoy one of the themed cocktails. There are also regular Rooftop Film Club screenings throughout the summer.

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Flying the flag for the traditional British boozer is The Scottish Stores, whose lovingly-restored, Grade II-listed, wood-panelled interior leads to a small rooftop terrace. The artificial grass and enclosing high walls might not be to everybody’s taste. However, it is a secluded space perfect for enjoying a quiet pint and completely forgetting about the roar of London below you. As a dedicated Ale and Craft Beer House, there are generally ten draft beers on tap and a good number of bottled options too. However, gin is the star of the show at Bōkan 38 Bar & 39 Rooftop, amid the towering glass and steel banking headquarters of Canary Wharf in East London. Short of being a haunt of suited stockbrokers, Bōkan cultivates a chilled ambience, with daybeds, acres of floor space, and views to die for along the meanders of the Thames back towards The Shard.

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The extraordinary London views continue at Spirit of Summer on the tenth floor of the five-star ME London hotel, opposite Somerset House on the north bank of the Thames. Taking a Mexican hacienda as its inspiration, it allows you to thrill in the culture clash of sipping a tequila cocktail and munching on an authentic Mexican tapas board against a backdrop that includes Saint Paul’s Cathedral and Big Ben. Offering floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass roof that flood the area with light even on a damp London day, Pergola Olympia is a fantastic addition to the Kensington scene. One of the largest of London’s rooftop bars – with seating for five hundred – it offers an impressive food and drink selection just a short stroll from the British capital’s biggest museums.

Pergola | Photo: Pasco Photography

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