Drinks taste better at a higher altitude don't they? We’ve found 12 rooftop bars in and around the City of London that are worth taking the stairs for this summer.
We stayed at home for most of last year’s summer, missing out on all the best City of London rooftop bars and restaurants. That’s why we have to make up for it now. Let’s bar hop from outdoor terrace to outdoor terrace, getting all the best cocktails and views as we do so.
And you don’t need to go beyond the Square Mile’s borders to find some of London’s best rooftop bars. The area is packed full of them – new and old. Here are our favourites.
Sushisamba – the Brazilian, Peruvian and Japanese joint – is finally back up and running, and is certainly one of the best City of London rooftop bars. The indoor restaurant is now open as well as both outdoor terraces. Choose between the sprawling views on the East Terrace or toast the summer on the Tree Terrace under our iconic 26ft orange tree.
These are the highest outdoor dining terraces in all of Europe so expect spectacular views with just the right dose of vertigo. And once you acclimatise, be sure to get around their world-class cocktails alongside some finger food before heading inside for a full-on feast.
Floor 38 & 39, Heron Tower EC2N 4AY
Most City of London rooftop bars are lucky to land one or two of London’s landmark buildings in their line of vision, but Jin Bo Law lays claim to the big four – The Gherkin, Tower Bridge, the Walkie Talkie and The Shard – from its perch on the 14th floor of the new Dorsett Hotel in Aldgate.
Inside, a giant geometric pineapple stretches the length of the bar and slopes across the ceiling, injecting a healthy dose of playfulness into some fairly ritzy marble and gilt-framed decor. But let’s be honest, it’s all about that postcard view of London’s skyline, best appreciated over a couple of Asian-inspired cocktails.
14th floor, Dorsett City, 9 Aldgate High Street EC3N 1AH
St Paul’s is getting yet another rooftop bar – this time on top of one of the Square Mile’s Leonardo hotels. This botanical City of London rooftop bar provides the perfect place to escape the concrete jungle. Stunning views of the cathedral can be enjoyed from every angle against a backdrop of vibrant foliage and contemporary design.
And with two outside terraces – one with a retractable roof for all-weather drinking and dining – Sabine is a bar for all seasons. But they are a lot more than just a rooftop bar. Expect the likes of burrata with white peaches and pistachios and big Lebanese meat platters. This is a must-see spot.
10 Godliman Street EC4V 5AJ
From the bronze interiors to the flirty cocktails, ETM Group’s Aviary has been ergonomically engineered for City boys and girls to seal deals and celebrate successes over killer panoramic views. And while the slick kitchen does a gastropub-style menu of British classics and meats straight up from the open coal oven, it’s the colossal south-facing terrace, complete with cushy furniture and marble bar that will have them jostling for the lift at the end of the working day.
10th floor of Montcalm Hotel, 22-25 Finsbury Square EC2A 1DX
This high-end dim sum paradise has the best location within Broadgate Circle. It wraps around about a third of the public space, with large terraces on both sides. Sit out here on a hot summer’s day, nibbling on delicately crafted dumplings and meat filled bao buns. Add a few cheeky Asian-inspired cocktails to the experience and you’re sorted.
And, when the rain and cold inevitably return, you can still sit outside under the heaters and umbrellas opting for some heartier food and drinks. This is one of our favourite restaurants in the City of London –their terrace is simply the cherry on top.
1 Broadgate EC2M 2QS
The City of London rooftop bars of this historic old boozer is home to a herb garden and vegetable patch as a nod to its namesake, 17th-century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper. Because this is London, there’s also a bar, where you can sip on a Bloody Mary in amongst the tomato vines if you so fancy.
It’s as locally sourced as it gets! Try cocktails infused with herbs fresh from the garden and stick around for dinner; the no bookings policy during summer means seats here don’t grow on trees.
40 Commercial Street E1 6LP
We still aren’t sure why this City of London rooftop bars remains hidden from so many people. It is a brilliant spot to head up to for either a night of cocktails and nibbles or a proper sit-down dinner. In one sweep, the view from Mercer Roof Terrace takes in London’s skyline, from the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral to the glass tip of The Shard.
You can even treat yourselves to a quintessentially British experience up here – the afternoon tea. Treat yourselves to cakes, crustless sandwiches and the highly coveted scone while taking in all of those marvellous London landmarks.
20 Garlick Hill EC4V 2AU
The team at Madison have transformed the rooftop space just in time for summer. It is all designed so that guests feel as if they are full immersed in a boho Ibiza Beach Club. Now, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – especially if you’re not into house music. But the space is spectacular, and the views over St Paul’s are their biggest drawcard.
Grab a cocktail or two, watching as sunset changes the entire City skyline. But even though CÎROC vodka have sponsored the bar, we recommend you go for the classic drinks on the Madison menu – those from CÎROC aren’t the most exciting. But this isn’t enough to scare us off!
6th-floor, One New Change EC4M 9AF
This City of London rooftop bar has had another makeover this summer, this time sponsored by Lillet. This means Lillet spritzes will be abounding on the South Terrace as people soak up the last dregs of sun this summer. But because this space looks so good, you really need to book in advance. So grab your mates together and fill up one of the many tables out on the terrace. And, of course, you can still get your afternoon tea, lunch and dinner specials as per usual.
Floor 12, 7 Pepys Street EC3N 4AF
If you haven’t been to Coq d’Argent yet, then you best make sure you get there this year. Surely, you’ve seen the massive rooftop lawns overlooking Bank Junction and the rest of the City on Instagram before. But it’s far from being one of those tourist destinations where you get to see across London but then are inevitably underwhelmed by the food and drink options.
This spot is built for locals and doesn’t skimp on quality. Either come for lunch and drinks by the lawns during the day or head over for late-night cocktails with live DJs once the sun goes down – and trust us, this is one hell of spot to see the sunset in the City.
No.1 Poultry EC2R 8EJ
Bird of Smithfield
At first glance, a five-storey Georgian townhouse might not meet our height requirements, but the roof of Bird of Smithfield is actually perfectly positioned to take in the historic market buildings for which the area is famous. Watch the sun set with an Aperol Spritz in hand then head downstairs for bang-up modern British dining in the restaurant.
6 Smithfield Street EC1A 9LB
If you’re keen to broaden your horizons beyond the City skyline, head to the 10th floor of Meliá’s ME hotel on the Strand for Radio Rooftop’s killer panoramic views over the Thames that stretch from Tower Bridge in the east all the way over to the Houses of Parliament.
Park yourself on one of the Ibiza-style lounges and soak up the sun while sipping cocktails and snacking on international tapas. Just be prepared to queue for the privilege; Radio Rooftop is one hot ticket during the summer months and hard-won reservations usually come with a minimum spend. One of the coolest City of London rooftop bars around.
336-337 The Strand WC2R 1HA