London in summer can be a delight. It's all frisbees and pooches on Hampstead Heath, and having a legitimate reason to mainline ice cream at your desk. It's also melting on a bus with windows that don't open, and getting stuck in people's armpits on the Underground.
Invitations to rooftop bars come in thick and fast as soon as hometime nears, but what if you're all sunshined out? You're one day away from turning into crackling and you'd much rather find a shady spot in a bar with air-con. Visit one of these spots that feel like they're made for a heatwave, and you'll leave as cool as a cucumber.
Milk & Honey
This tiny Soho bar is so dark, you'll need to use the light on your phone to read the menu but it's the perfect place to escape sweaty pub crowds. Staff keep you regularly topped up with water and after two drinks you'll forget that summer is happening outside. It's a members' bar, but non-members can book a table till 11pm during the week, so you can step out of the sun without stumping up the hefty membership fee.
Hide Bar is not your typical summer bar. The food is summery and the drinks menu takes a swerve in the direction of fruity and tropical but while the rest of the bars on Bermondsey Street are spilling out onto the pavement, Hide Bar have been known to draw their curtains. The air-con will leave you feeling a little chilly and in this weather we wouldn't have it any other way. We were starting to sweat into our cocktails.
Thanks to the huge open front doors leading out to Golden Square, London's original gin bar Graphic always feels breezy. A steady flow of iced cocktails helps, too.
CitizenM London Bankside
Bright, light and airy, the CitizenM on Southwark Street is often reserved for business meetings, but it's worth the walk if you need somewhere quieter than the sunny streets circling Borough Market. The best bit? There's a shady courtyard garden smack bang in the middle of the bar.
Hoxley and Porter
A stroll down Upper Street is more like an infuriating assault course when the sun hits. The al fresco restaurants and gelato spots are lovely, but carry on to the quieter middle of Upper Street, where Hoxley & Porter has the Art Deco theme down to a tee. Its long, dark corridor keeps the bar out of the sun, and you're treated to a fabulous dark and tropical jungle interior that's matched with excellent music, sunken leather chairs and a very long cocktail list.
Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings
The original B&H is a tiny little bar that's absolutely packed till closing. Fun? Totally. Comfortable? Not in the slightest. For a far more refreshing experience, head to B&H Buildings in Clerkenwell. The vast and bright plant-filled conservatory is the perfect spot to cool off.
Shoreditch favourite Blixen is very much a three-pronged attack when it comes to summer. Sip cool drinks in the flora-filled bar and restaurant, or head outside to the patio that backs onto Spitalfields Market. Still not chilled enough? Head underground to the basement bar.
On one of the hottest days of the year, we found ourselves melting on Portobello Road and nipping into The Distillery for respite. If you're feeling horribly sticky, head upstairs to tapas bar Gin Tonica, grab a table by the huge, open windows and watch Notting Hill in a cool breeze.