Rooftop bars bring the high life to London: Six hidden watering holes that offer amazing views of the city that even locals don’t know about, from Covent Garden to Waterloo

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

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

Head upwards to see a London few other visitors get to enjoy – that’s the advice that Blue Badge-qualified tour 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 even locals don’t know about,’ he says.

Head upwards to see a London few other visitors get to enjoy at 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 makes a great first or last pit stop if you’re visiting London by train

Sip on cocktails by night at Radio Rooftop Bar on the tenth floor of the ME hotel in the West End

A top tip is Radio Rooftop Bar, perched 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 are all in view from the terrace. Non residents can book tables for everything from eggs benedict at breakfast to champagne cocktails at night. DJs play chill-out sets as the sun goes down (radiorooftop.com).

Even closer to the heart of town is Hotel Indigo on Leicester Square. Up on the ninth floor there’s a sleek bar and dining room plus a wrap-around terrace with tables looking down on the bustle below. Service begins with mid-morning brunch and runs through to candlelit, post-theatre dinner (lsqrooftop.com).

A livelier rooftop experience is on offer just south of the River Thames and National Theatre near Waterloo. Up to 600 guests can squeeze on to the huge terrace of Bar Elba where colourful awnings and strings of fairy-lights make nights seem magical.

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

Service at Hotel Indigo’s bar and dining room (pictured) begins with mid-morning brunch and runs through to candlelit, post-theatre dinner

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

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

Take a short walk through the cobbled streets of Wapping, just east of Tower Bridge, to find an even more imaginative rooftop bar. At the Skylight Bar on the old Tobacco Dock there’s a croquet lawn plus shuffle board, table tennis and petanque areas. The menu is described as ‘street meets comfort food’ with everything from tacos to churros with chocolate sauce (skylightbars.com).

The (fake) grass is equally green at The Rooftop bar at The Standard hotel. It’s positioned by St Pancras and King’s Cross stations so it makes 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 shuffle board, table tennis and petanque areas

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

What’s said to be the capital’s highest taco truck (pictured) provides snacks at The Rooftop bar at The Standard hotel

It’s open till 11pm and the Victorian clock tower of St Pancras station looms alongside it while the BT Tower shines in the distance. Margaritas are the most popular drinks while what’s said to be the capital’s highest taco truck provides snacks (standardhotels.com).

Fine dining with a view of the grey dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is on offer on the top-floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer hotel in the heart of the old City of London.

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

Fine dining with a view of the grey dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is on offer on the top-floor terrace of the Vintry & Mercer hotel (pictured) in the heart of the old City of 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 are favourites

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