Food & Drink

The Best Rooftop Bar in Every London Neighborhood

London winters can sometimes last for nine months -- leaving the other three to cram the remaining seasons into. This system leaves about two weeks for summer, so when the sun decides to actually show up and grace us with its presence, you'd better get your vitamin D-deprived self to the nearest rooftop with a bar. Because we love you, we’ve found the best rooftops for you to enjoy in every London neighborhood -- so no matter where you are, you can get a dose of sunshine.

The Roof Gardens

Kensington

One hundred feet above the busy streets of Kensington, 1.5 acres of paradise are hidden, yet filled to the brim with exotic plants and trees. Sections are devoted to specific themes, like the Spanish Quarter, the Tudor Garden, and the English Woodland, and the space also houses a flamboyance of flamingos and a flock of ducks who wander the grounds at will. While at night The Roof Gardens turn into a swank members club (which, if you plan ahead, you’ll have no issue getting into), you can rocket up any time, hang out at the bar, and take in the remarkable scenery.

Prince of Wales

Brixton

You would never guess how damn big this place is. Housed atop a regular old KFC, this space features multiple bars and great DJs, and -- best of all -- stays open until 3am. Recently, the guys from Duck Egg CafĂ© took over the cooking (mmm, eggs royale), so you can start with an epic brunch and power through all day long. And if you find yourself wanting a taste of something slightly more refined, nip over to hidden cocktail bar Sovereign Loss in the back of the building.

Aqua Kyoto

Soho

Riding high above the insanity of Oxford Street, Aqua is about as swish as it comes, with lots of dark marble, red accents, killer light fixtures, and a massive terrace that feels a million miles away from the bustle below. The people-watching here is pretty top-notch: the glitterati come here to soak up those elusive sunbeams, so grab a drink, and enjoy the show.

Frank’s Cafe

Peckham

What started as a cute little secret bar has turned into the highlight of Peckham, with pop-up cinema, gigs, street food, and plenty of booze, all with the backdrop of one of the best views down south. This spot is worth the trip.

Rumpus Room

Blackfriars

So this spot may only have a tiny terrace, but the decor inside is just so pretty, and with those floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll soak in all that sunshine and be just fine. With drinks from the internationally award-winning Mr Lyan (aka Ryan Chetiyawardana) and a tendency to get a little debauched, this is one party you’ll want to be involved in.

Netil360

London Fields

What started as a series of pop-up parties has turned into a real-life rooftop scene and co-working space, starting early with coffee and WiFi and evolving into a full-blown bar by the end of the night. Although it closes early (10:30pm at the latest), this place throws some pretty events, and it’s a great space to spend those precious daylight hours.

Radio

The Strand

Welcome to a world where personal authenticity isn’t especially valued, but the drinks are perfect, the staff genuinely charming, and the view so gorgeous everything else just fades into the background. Take a deep breath, wish you had made a reservation, and just go with it.

Shoreditch House

Shoreditch

This member’s-only club offers the best life around with a rooftop pool, not to mention a huge restaurant with a retractable glass roof, a glorious salad bar, a garden with secluded nooks for hiding, and an entire area covered in beds for catching those much-needed afternoon naps in the sun. Throw in delicious bites, cocktails, and some of the best staff in the business, and you’ll be thinking that membership fee is suddenly totally worth it.

SUSHISAMBA

Liverpool Street

Sitting high on the 39th floor of the Salesforce building, don’t go expecting any riveting eavesdropping -- it’s a lot of the fake tan/eyelashes/everything else set. But the drinks from cocktail mastermind Rich Woods make the remarkable view that much sweeter. Imagine sipping a Padron pepper caipirinha while staring over the better part of East London. Exactly.

Coq d’Argent

The City

Find a friend with an expense account and head to this city spot to rub elbows with suits while throwing back some seriously good wine. You’ll get views of all the nameworthy buildings (Cheesegrater, Gherkin, Walkie-Talkie)... not to mention a feeling of smug superiority that’ll last all day.

Dalston Roof Park

Dalston

Yoga, raves, street food, and garden plots await you on this co-op space in Dalston. There’s always some kind of thing happening here -- plus all the unticketed events are only £3, and when you attend four events, you can swap for a Bootstrap Friendship Card, which gets you in free for the rest of the summer.

Notch

Marble Arch

A cross between an industrial playground and Italian aperitivo bar, this place may look fairly bare-bones, with basic metal and wooden tables and chairs, but the energy here went straight into the drinks: along with a full bar menu, they’re also rocking pre-mixed cocktails served out of little cans. Chef Mark Morrans, previously of Kurobuta and Nobu Melbourne, is cooking drinking bites like sea bass ceviche, fried chicken with kimchee mayo, and anticucho drench short rib with pickled cucumber (yum).

No. 32 The Old Town

Clapham

It’s a little Yummy Mummy here, but once you’re situated at one of their long tables feeling the sun on your face with a drink in your hand, that’ll all fade into the background. Inspired by long summer days in New England, it's filled its space with weathered wood, olive trees, and festoon lighting.

The Lyric

Hammersmith

This little enchanted garden is a breath of fresh air amongst the industrial business of Hammersmith, populated by artsy types, locals, and the occasional student. Located above the theater, it’s a cosy little space filled with trees, candles, and loads of food and wine... perfect for a casual date night.

Big Chill House

Kings Cross

This place is kind of a dive: you can rock up in non-designer ripped jeans and yesterday’s T-shirt, smash a burger and a whole collection of beers, and then spend the rest of the afternoon hanging out listening to chilled-out tunes with a crowd of friends. It’s all pretty light up here, with cartoon-coloured furniture, easygoing people, and general fun times.
 
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Haley Forest loves the outdoors, especially when those outdoors come with a full bar, good music, and light bites. Follow her on Twitter @HCForest.