Drinks taste better at a higher altitude don't they? We’ve found 11 rooftop bars in the Square Mile that are worth taking the stairs for this summer.
THE sun has made a decent show of itself in London so far this summer and we can’t think of a better way to salute that fact than with a cocktail in hand at one of the Square Mile’s hottest rooftop bars.
Operating on the baseless theory that booze tastes better at a higher altitude, we’ve taken a bird’s eye view of the Square Mile to see where you should be sipping and supping this summer. Here are 11 rooftop bars worth taking the stairs for:
Most 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.
The Dragon Air is an Eastern take on a white Negroni with the Chinese spirit baijiu, while the Fizz from a Rose packs a punch with kaffir lime infused rose liquor, egg white and ginger beer. However, East/West Cobbler is our pick for the summer; a refreshing combination of vodka and elderflower liqueur with a sour yuzu kick.
14th floor, Dorsett City, 9 Aldgate High Street EC3N 1AH
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.
The rooftop 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. 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 and the daily changing gastropub menu is top notch.
At 38 and 39 floors up, SushiSamba’s terrace currently holds the title of Britain’s highest outdoor dining terrace and although that’s still somewhat short of the world’s highest (that honour goes to Ozone on the 118th floor of Hong Kong’s Ritz Carlton) we’d still be singing it from… the rooftops. And there’s plenty more to sing about, with a fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisines and experimental cocktails, such as a smoked plum negroni and a green tea-infused sake with gin and dry vermouth.
110 Bishopsgate EC2N 4AY
Definitely one of the hardest working rooftops on our list, the Queen of Hoxton’s summer programme brings with it everything from themed parties and top DJs to film clubs and workshops. Twice yearly transformations of the third storey rooftop keep regular punters guessing, though its current incarnation – Lost Vegas, complete with wedding chapel and vending machines stocked with boozy ice lollies – is one of the best.
A picture perfect postcard outlook over St Paul’s Cathedral awaits those who make it to the top of One New Change, which will most likely be after a lengthy wait post-5pm on a weeknight. The up-close views of Sir Christopher Wren’s most famous dome alone are worth the queue, but if your group is still feeling sour, the Pornstar Martini sharing cocktail of Absolut, passionfruit liquer and plenty of Prosecco should sweeten things up.
One New Change EC4M 9AF
Savage Garden opened on top of the Hilton DoubleTree in June, taking over from the fairly generic SkyLounge bar with savage-sounding cocktails and a creative menu of carnivorous bar snacks. Think charcoal bun beef sliders and pork tomahawk with black pudding fries. Just in time to welcome London’s heatwave, it’s been heaving since launch, so best leave the office a little early to snag a good spot on Thursday and Friday evenings. And if Mother Nature isn’t as kind in August, there’s always the retractable roof to keep the rain at bay.
12th floor, Hilton Doubletree Hotel, 7 Pepys Street EC3N 4AF
One look at Coq D’Argent’s manicured hedges and lawns and you’ve escaped Poultry for a weekend of Pimms and polo at the family estate in the Cotswolds. Well, that’s the idea. But a well-rounded wine list, with plenty of Champagne for the high fliers, plus views of the City skyline from right in the heart of it, will make you glad you stayed in town this weekend.
1 Poultry EC2R 8EJ
Lavender hedges and olive trees transform this west-facing terrace atop Moorgate’s South Place Hotel into a slice of Provence in the heart of London. Add to that Angler’s Michelin-starred seafood menu, a 1.5-litre magnum of Tavel and a sunny afternoon and you’re just about there.
3 South Place EC2M 2AF
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.
26 Smithfield St 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.
336-337 The Strand WC2R 1HA