The best rooftop bars in London revealed, from Covent Garden to Waterloo

Rooftop bars bring life to London: six hidden pubs that offer fantastic views of the city that even the locals don’t know about, from Covent Garden to Waterloo

  • DJs play chill-out sets as the sun sets at Radio Rooftop Bar on the edge of Covent Garden
  • Skylight Bar in Wapping has a croquet lawn and serves dishes such as churros with chocolate sauce
  • Admire views of St Paul’s Cathedral as you dine on the top-floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer hotel

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Each week, our holiday hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a holiday topic, doing all the work so you don’t have to. This week: Rooftop bars in London.

Head upstairs to see some of the other visitors to London enjoying themselves – that’s the advice Blue Badge qualified guide Paul Metcalfe gives his guests.

“There are now dozens of rooftop bars and restaurants in London, each with a different atmosphere and each with views that even the locals don’t know about,” he says.

Head upstairs to see some of the other visitors to London enjoying the city’s rooftop bars. One option is The Rooftop bar at The Standard hotel (pictured) – it’s positioned by St Pancras and King’s Cross stations so it’s a great first or last pit stop if you’re visiting London by train

Enjoy evening cocktails at Radio Rooftop Bar on the tenth floor of the ME hotel in the West End

Enjoy evening cocktails at Radio Rooftop Bar on the tenth floor of the ME hotel in the West End

A top tip is Radio Rooftop Bar, located on the tenth floor of the ME hotel on the edge of Covent Garden in the West End.

The ‘big four’ sights of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, the London Eye and Big Ben can all be seen from the terrace. Non-residents can reserve tables for everything from eggs Benedict at breakfast to champagne cocktails in the evening. DJs spin chill-out sets as the sun sets (radiorooftop.com).

Even closer to the heart of the city is Hotel Indigo on Leicester Square. On the ninth floor, there is a sleek bar and dining room plus a wrap-around terrace with tables looking down on the bustle below. The service begins with a mid-morning brunch and continues through to a candlelit dinner after the theater (lsqrooftop.com).

Just south of the River Thames and the National Theater near Waterloo, a livelier rooftop experience is offered. Up to 600 guests can squeeze in on Bar Elba’s huge terrace, where colorful awnings and strings of fairy lights make the nights seem magical.

On the ninth floor of Hotel Indigo in Leicester Square there is a sleek bar and dining room plus a wrap-around terrace with tables looking down on the bustle below

On the ninth floor of Hotel Indigo on Leicester Square is a sleek bar and dining room plus a wrap-around terrace with tables looking down on the bustle below

Service in Hotel Indigo's bar and dining room (pictured) begins with a mid-morning brunch and continues through to candlelit dinner after the theater

Service in Hotel Indigo’s bar and dining room (pictured) begins with a mid-morning brunch and continues through to candlelit dinner after the theater

Up to 600 guests can squeeze in on the huge terrace of Bar Elba, above, where colorful awnings and wisps of fairy lights make the nights seem magical

Up to 600 guests can squeeze in on the huge terrace of Bar Elba, above, where colorful awnings and wisps of fairy lights make the nights seem magical

On weekends, live music and stand-up comedy compete with views of the Shard and London Eye, and groups can book a ‘cocktail boom’ with drinks ready for you when you arrive (bar-elba.co.uk).

Take a short stroll through the cobbled streets of Wapping, just east of Tower Bridge, to find an even more fanciful rooftop bar. At the Skylight Bar on the old Tobacco Dock there is a croquet lawn plus shuffleboard, table tennis and bocce. The menu is described as “street meets comfort food” with everything from tacos to churros with chocolate sauce (skylightbars.com).

The (fake) grass is just as green at The Rooftop bar of The Standard hotel. It’s positioned near St Pancras and King’s Cross stations, so it’s a great first or last pit stop if you’re visiting London by train.

Head to the Skylight Bar on the old Tobacco Dock (pictured) and you'll find a croquet lawn plus shuffleboard, table tennis and bocce areas

Head to the Skylight Bar on the old Tobacco Dock (pictured) and you’ll find a croquet lawn plus shuffleboard, table tennis and bocce areas

Margaritas are the most popular drinks at The Rooftop bar of The Standard hotel, which is open until 11pm

Margaritas are the most popular drinks at The Rooftop bar of The Standard hotel, which is open until 11pm

What is said to be the tallest taco truck in the capital (pictured) offers snacks at The Rooftop bar at The Standard hotel

What is said to be the highest taco truck in the capital (pictured) offers snacks at The Rooftop bar of The Standard hotel

It’s open until 11pm and the Victorian clock tower of St Pancras station looms next to it, while the BT Tower sparkles in the distance. Margaritas are the most popular drinks, while what is said to be the capital’s tallest taco truck offers snacks (standardhotels.com).

The top-floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer hotel in the heart of Old City London offers fine dining overlooking the gray dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Close to the Thames, but lost amid a warren of old wine warehouses and livery halls, the menu has a ‘best of British’ flavour. Roasted scallops and Cornish lamb are a favorite (vintryandmercer.com).

Fine dining overlooking the gray dome of St Paul's Cathedral is offered on the top floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer hotel (pictured) in the heart of Old City London

Fine dining overlooking the gray dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is offered on the top floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer hotel (pictured) in the heart of Old City London

The menu on the top floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer hotel has a 'best of British' flavour - roasted Orkney scallops and Cornish lamb being a favourite.

The menu on the top floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer hotel has a ‘best of British’ flavour – roast scallops and Cornish lamb being a favourite.

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