Sun’s out? Er, sort of. Time for Londoners of all stripes to peel their clothes off and expose their pale flesh, grown only more cadaverous by a particularly harsh winter, to the warm rays. And where better to do it than on a rooftop whilst sipping on gin and juice? Unlike that SPF 15 sunscreen that’s been rotting in the bathroom cabinet these past few years, we’ve got you covered.
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Sitting atop the newly-opened Hotel Me at Aldwych, this will be Radio’s first summer in operation. They’re likely to attract a strong crowd: the views from on top are stunning, particularly the southern aspect which takes in a huge panorama of London landmarks. If it can’t be seen from this vantage point, it’s probably not worth seeing at all. Named for its location (it’s on the site of the old Marconi House) the historic theme extends to the cocktail menu, which includes concoctions named Radio-Active and AM/FM.
Another newcomer (it opened on 5 May) is the rooftop bar area at this restaurant in, yes, Smithfield. Set in an old Georgian house, it’s operated by Ivy alumnus Alan Bird, and its rooftop terrace has great views across the old market buildings. In case of inclement weather (or after the roof’s 11.30pm curfew) there’s also an underground cocktail bar.
One of London’s most popular and reliable rooftop bars, Aqua affords a fine view of Oxford Street and the West End. It’s part of Aqua Kyoto, a high-end restaurant, and the crowd is suitably suited and booted. Booking required.
Terence Conran’s ever-popular Shoreditch establishment continues to attract a likely crowd of affluent characters. By day an extension of the restaurant, from 4pm the rooftop becomes a bar, serving cocktails and cigars. Being a fairly squat building in an area devoid of interesting features, the views from on top aren’t the best you’ll find.
Probably the oldest in this list (it’s been around for 75 years), the Roof Gardens in Kensington sit atop the old Derry and Toms department store. Unless closed for a private event the Gardens are open to the public, but the complex also hosts a restaurant, Babylon, which has its own outdoor space that offers a humdrum view across west London, and a nightclub. The biggest attraction, though, are the gardens’ four pink flamingos.
The views aren’t the finest you’ll see but it does elevate you from the bustle of Dalston Junction and afford a closer view of the unappealing buildings on top of the new Overground station. The gardens also regularly host film nights and other events. Tends to close during inclement weather.
Perched atop the multi-story car park in Peckham, Frank’s has been drawing the crowds south to Peckham for the past four years. The view is one of the best of London from the south. Skip the so-so art that populates the rest of the car park and enjoy a Negroni or two as the sun sets. The bar re-opens 30 June 2013.
Set in the heart of the Square Mile, atop the postmodern erection that is One Poultry, Coq d’Argent continues the building’s playfulness with a rooftop terrace covered with a manicured lawn and rotund boluses that make it look like a golf course designed by James Stirling.
A rare all-year rooftop bar (they string up a wigwam during the winter months), come summer the Queen of Hoxton throws off its carapace and draws a mixed crowd of Shoreditch funsters and Square Mile suits to enjoy the rays. They also do a film season. The rooftop opens 11 May, from 12pm – 10pm.