Londoners don’t let a little bit of bad weather get in the way of sky-high views. Hit the top floor of these hip hotels for decadent cocktails, DJs, yoga decks and more.
No matter the season, Londoners love a rooftop: there’s just something about the city’s centuries-old skyline that adds an extra frisson to eating, drinking and socialising. In winter, they come festooned with lights and warmed with heaters and helpings of mulled wine; in summer, DJs spin sets and wild abandon fills the air. Whether you’re seeking sustainable cocktails, a swimming pool, live jazz or beehives, these higher-ground hot spots are all blessed with views of London’s never-gets-old cityscape.
Philanthropy and hospitality go hand in hand at the Good Hotel, a former prison barge that floats on the London Docklands. All profits from this community-spirited spot go towards job training for the long-term unemployed in the local borough, so you’ll feel fantastic about spending a summer afternoon on the astro-turfed rooftop, sharing vegetarian small plates, drinking sustainable tipples and savouring the superlative Thames views.
London is all atwitter over The Nest, a bright and foliage-filled lounge and outdoor terrace atop the Treehouse Hotel in Marylebone. Once you see the 360-degree views of the London skyline from up here, you’ll understand what all the chirping is about – you’ll be hard pressed to find a prettier spot to perch. Achingly photogenic, yes, but also really good fun: DJs spin from their own enclosed fort, glam clientele drink farm-to-glass cocktails, and there’s yoga-with-a-view on weekends.
The trendy Ham Yard in Soho is home to a rooftop garden that’s buzzy in more ways than one. As well as sweeping views over the London skyline, a kitchen-garden and stylish rattan lounge seating, there are also two beehives tended by the hotel’s dedicated beekeeper, Camilla (the honey is blended to make cocktails in the bar downstairs). And it’ll never be a swarm – the leafy space is only available to hotel guests or for private hire.
The Rooftop at design-haven and Shoreditch hotspot The Boundary is superb in any season. In winter, you can snuggle up in the covered Orangery for cheese fondue or raclette with warming vin chaud or whisky cocktails. In summer, the menu is Mediterranean-inspired: grilled meats, fish and spritzes abound. It’s ever-popular (the queue has been known to snake down the street), so be sure to book ahead.
For a room with va-va-voom, take the dedicated lift to the 12th floor of the South Bank’s Sea Containers and you’ll find sultry, low-lit lounge the 12th Knot. Sumptuous jewel-toned banquettes and a gilded bar draw the eye, but the knock-out views of the Thames and London’s skyline are the main event. There’s a rotating roster of jazz bands, live DJs and high-concept cocktails inspired by famous voyages.
You can spy St Paul’s Cathedral and the Shard from the sun-blessed Mercer Roof Terrace at boutique city stay, Vintry & Mercer. Take afternoon tea – the fanciful treats are inspired by the historic trade guilds that used to occupy these streets – or dine on bavette steak seared over a charcoal grill from the mod-British menu. Afterwards, have a cheeky nightcap in basement speakeasy DND. Vintage sazarac, anyone?
Ready to party? Celebration is always in the air at ME London’s Radio Rooftop bar on the Strand. So much so, that there are over 30 different types of champagne on the menu. Settle onto a squishy white sofa, take your pick of moreish bar snacks – melt-in-your-mouth Iberico ham, soft-shell crab sliders or sweet-potato fries – and raise your glass of bubbles to the views of Big Ben.
Bank-turned-hotel-hotspot The Ned doesn’t lack in filmic features: a vaulted atrium with verdite columns, a marble-clad swimming pool and a bank vault that inspired a Bond scene. But members-only sanctum Ned’s Club Upstairs still manages to steal the scene. If it weren’t for the views of St Paul’s (and, ok, the temperature), you’d swear you were in Los Angeles as you swim laps in the pool or sun yourself on a luxe lounger.