Nothing says summer in London more than a rooftop bar, and after the year we've all just had, it's safe to say we all need it! Looking out over London’s skyline with good tunes, a cocktail in hand and a buzzing young crowd - there’s simply nothing better. You’ll find rooftop bars in London all over the city, but if you’re after drinks with a view that won’t break the bank and lets you rock up in trainers, you may need to know where to look. Full of fun colourful decor, live DJs and panoramic views, these are the best rooftop bars in London for affordable drinks and a real laid-back atmosphere. Check them out once lockdown ends.
In no particular order...
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1. Frank’s Cafe
Bold Tendencies, 7th-10th Floor Multi Storey Car Park, 95A Rye Ln, London SE15 4ST
Frank's Cafe is one of those places that almost every Londoner will have seen or heard about. On every sun-shining summer’s day in Peckham, you can be guaranteed that the Northeast rooftop at Bold Tendencies (a not-for-profit organisation) will be buzzing with locals soaking up the atmosphere at the bar with an Aperol Spritz or two. You might already have seen THAT pink staircase - one of the most Instagrammed spots in south London. Before you even reach the roof you’ll be snapping it all up for your feed, but once you’re in the open air you’ve got a pretty epic view of central London and Canary Wharf’s skyline.
At Frank’s, you won’t even have to dig too deep into your pocket for a drink like at most other London roof bars, as cocktails are between £7-8.50 and jugs like Pimms or Sangria are £20-25.
2. Bussey Rooftop Bar
Roof B Bussey Building, 133 Rye Ln, London SE15 4ST
Right across the street from Frank’s happens to be another of London’s top spots for a rooftop drink that’s south of the river. Head to the top of Peckham’s Bussey Building and step into Bussey Rooftop Bar. Before you spot the 360 views of London’s skyline you’ll be hit by this bar’s colourful decor, covered in a tropical theme including plenty of Insta-worthy florals and greenery.
Pull up a peacock chair and sip your tipple amongst a buzzing crowd whether it’s after work beers or midday cocktails on a weekend. Just know that Bussey gets busy… So get there early if you want a decent place to perch with your drinks and bar snacks.
3. Bar Elba
Rooftop Mercury House, 109-117 Waterloo Rd, Bishop's, London SE1 8UL
Right by Waterloo station is another popular spot for after work drinks in London. Bar Elba is open all year round but it goes without saying that spring and summer are the best times to visit. Grab your drink from the covered bar and grab an outdoor seat with a view of the Shard. Make sure you’re there between 4 and 6pm on a Sunday to Friday for Happy Hour - that’s 2 for 1 on any of their tasty cocktails.
Even if it’s a chillier day or it starts to rain (you’re in London after all) at Bar Elba you have the option of undercover seating as well, plus you’d be nearer the bar and the food…
4. Netil 360
1 Westgate St, Hackney, London E8 3RL
Over in Hackney, down the road from London Fields, is Netil 360. This one is a spot every East Londoner knows about for the laid-back vibes, good music and great local beers and spirits. Get yourself over there when it opens for spring in April and soak up some sun with draft beers from Trumans or spirits from East London Liquor Company. Netil 360 is all about supporting local and being sustainable in every way they can - that means no single-use plastic here.
Stay and watch the sun go down over 360 degree views of London and party to guest DJs or live music until late.
5. The Loft Wimbledon
33 Wimbledon Hill Rd, Wimbledon, London SW19 7NE
At the top of The Alexandra pub in Wimbledon is a little hidden oasis that’s perfect for those chilled out summer days. The Alexandra is a cosy local pub that’s great for a few drinks and shelter from the wind and rain, however when the sun is shining, head up top for a burger and a beer and bask in the open air.
There are no sprawling skyscraper views at this one, but Wimbledon High Street isn’t so bad! Here, it’s more about sitting outside for a cocktail and catching up with friends and maybe even get a bit of a tan on.
6. Prince of Wales
467, 469 Brixton Rd, Brixton, London SW9 8HH
If you want more party than chilled out drinks, get yourself down to the Prince of Wales, Brixton’s best rooftop terrace, for one hell of a night out. This pub/club has some incredible guest DJs throughout the year, and a load of these events take place way up high in the open-air.
Not there for a big night out? The terrace is open during the day, too for day drinks with bar snacks and a buzzing atmosphere until the DJs hit the decks. Buy your tickets in advance for the bigger events, or pitch up in the day for one or two quiet ones amongst a cool, young crowd.
7. Roof East
7 & 8 Stratford Multi Storey Car Park, Great Eastern Rd, London E15 1BB
Look out over the Olympic Park and Canary Wharf from this summer hotspot, right by Stratford station. Roof East was formerly a car park, but it’s since been transformed into a huge and quirky summer bar complete with more than a few games to keep you entertained. This year, it’ll be reopening its doors on April 23rd complete with their usual popular variety of activities like curling, mini golf, table tennis and a batting cage as well as a giant bar and a handful of tasty street food stalls.
You could easily get here in the afternoon and not leave until well past sunset (and trust us, sunset from this rooftop is well worth waiting for). Head up for free, grab a G&T from the bar and book onto an activity or two. If the sun is shining then there are plenty of deck chairs for you to simply sit back, relax and enjoy the music.
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