All it takes is a mere whisper of warm weather to send the capital scrambling skyward. Little beats the joy of feeling the sun on your face and a drink in your hand as you recline on a London rooftop – aside from dining at an alfresco restaurant, of course.
Seeing as we’re all about the high life at Quintessentially, we’ve updated our list of London’s best rooftops in time for summer. Our selection covers both bars and restaurants, and you can expect to see some old favourites and a few new ones in the mix, too.
8 at The Londoner, Leicester Square
There’s an izakaya overlooking Leicester Square where you can eat filo-wrapped king prawns and drink peppery yuzu martinis. If that isn’t enough of a sell, how about the fact that 8 at The Londoner also has a sunken stone firepit, a Shima garden, and cityscape views that wouldn’t be out of place on a postcard? Arrive just before sunset and slowly sip a Japanese whisky cocktail while golden hour bounces by to an Egyptian house beat – bliss.
8 at The Londoner, 38 Leicester Sq, WC2H 7DX
Dim Sum Terrace at Harrods, Knightsbridge
Gyoza fans, rejoice: a conservatory-style dumpling terrace has just opened on Harrods’s fourth floor. It’s the sister restaurant to the department store’s beloved Chai Wu and features an array of fancily flavoured dumplings – saffron king crab, anyone? Or how about chilli and Dover sole? Other dishes are equally as enticing (we’re eyeing up the Katafi scallops topped with salmon roe), as are the Asian-inspired cocktails and impressive views over Knightsbridge.
Dim Sum Terrace at Harrods, 87–135 Brompton Rd, SW1X 7XL
The Dorchester Rooftop, Mayfair
There’s never a bad time of year to visit The Dorchester, but summer means we can spend more time on its secret garden-style rooftop. This year, the cocktail list takes inspiration from English gardens (e.g., the Enchanted Blossom – a floral twist on a gin sour), with plates ranging from truffle and gruyère eclairs to côte de boeuf with Hasselback potatoes. Whatever you choose, make sure you admire the near-endless views of Hyde Park.
The Dorchester Rooftop, 53 Park Ln, W1K 1PN
This just-opened rooftop restaurant promises a ‘culinary odyssey through the Mediterranean’ (even if the views are over the less-than-picturesque Tottenham Court Road). It’s a huge, industrial-style space that seats up to 240 diners, with a small roof terrace that’s pretty vibey in the sun. We want to say the seafood is the star here – the oysters and lobster tail were both excellent – but we must admit, the Greek chips are what we’d return for. Crisp, doused in oregano, and incredibly moreish – we’ll take the lot.
Cavo, The Now Building, Denmark St, WC2H 0LA | CREDIT @Lateef.photography
Piazza Terrace at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
While tourists mill around Covent Garden Market, those in the know head up the escalators at the Royal Opera House to arrive to its covered roof terrace. It’s a gloriously plant-filled space that overlooks the market from above, and if you saunter down the right-hand side, you get a peek of the seamstresses busily sewing show costumes. Your order list: a bottle of rosé, beetroot and fig leaf hummus, and prawn fritters dipped in lemon mayo.
Piazza Terrace at the Royal Opera House, Bow St, WC2E 9DD
Sabine, The City
You’re practically nose-to-nose with St Paul’s Cathedral at Sabine, which sits on top of the Leonardo Royal Hotel London. It’s a bit more relaxed than bars of a similar calibre in the area (you can leave your dinner jacket at home, for example), but it is still an elegant place for a few cocktails. Peckish? Try the chickpea chips or juicy prawn skewers – but if you’re in the market for a sit-down meal, book a table at Brigadiers down the road.
Sabine, 10 Godliman St, EC4V 5AJ
One Hundred Shoreditch
A slice of Palm Springs on a stretch of Shoreditch High Street, this pink-splashed rooftop feels like a playful Californian escape. Cacti and succulents spill from the pink-tiled walls, and the cocktail menu is filled with summer classics like spicy margaritas and pineapple spritzes. Get there early if you want a terrace table – they’re allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
100 Shoreditch High St, E1 6JQ
Aqua Kyoto, Soho
The cocktails may be inspired by Tokyo’s Ginza district, but the views at Aqua Kyoto show off Soho. It’s a good-looking space – a cascade of pink and yellow flowers swathe the roof and speckle the tables, and a glowing sun feature winks from the bar. Devour rock shrimp tempura and black cod gyoza before turning your attention to the Kyoto Sunsets menu, where every dish has been designed to pair with a chilled glass of Veuve Clicquot. Sun, sushi, and champagne – you can’t go wrong.
Aqua Kyoto, 5th Floor, 240 Regent Street, W1B 3BR
Roof Garden at Pantechnicon
Pantechnicon’s founding principle is bringing together Japanese and Nordic cuisines. However, where the rest of the building keeps them in separate restaurants, the rules go out of the floor-to-ceiling window when you hit the fauna-filled roof. The menu is stacked with dishes from all four of its restaurants, and the cocktails, whipped up by top mixologists, are also great. We love the Smokey Blush, which mixes mezcal, rose, and champagne.
Pantechnicon, 19 Motcomb St, SW1X 8LB
Sweeties Bar at The Standard London
Rooftops and The Standard go hand in hand. Its excellent Spanish Mexican restaurant, Decimo, is on the 8th floor, and there’s a bar with lurid green astroturf and espresso martinis on tap on the roof. However, after the sun goes down on a Friday night, Sweeties on the 10th floor is our favourite of the lot. The drinks are playful, the DJ line-up is killer, and you can dance under a giant disco ball until gone 2am. Sweet.
Sweeties, 10th Floor, 10 Argyle St, WC1H 8EG
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