Despite its grey and grizzly reputation, London does get some brilliant weather from time to time. Okay, it’s not Barcelona or Faro, but what it lacks in consistency it makes up for in all-out surprise factor. When the weather heats up, we Londoners drop everything to go and soak up the rays. One of the best ways to enjoy a spot of sun is at one of the best rooftop restaurants in London. There's plenty of choice, from street food-style bars atop venues to fine dining in the clouds.
While these restaurants are excellent for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries, most would also work well for a more casual meal. We all know the feeling of finishing work on a Friday and rushing to somewhere up high for a drink and some food with your colleagues. It's one of the best ways to end the week.
Our top priority is always the food, so you can expect only the best dishes at all of these options. But another important factor is the view, so this comes in a close second. Some of these restaurants are as romantic as it gets, while others are perfect places to go in a group. Often restaurants like this double up as killer rooftop bars, perfect for sipping in the sky. There's so much choice that it was hard to boil down the best of the best, but we have.
There really is no better way to make the most of our all too fleeting warm weather than by dining on a rooftop. Ideal for amazing views and catching a tan, you’ll want to be far above the ground to enjoy the stretch of summer and London’s gorgeous views. From South Bank terraces to City high-rises, we’ve rounded up the must-visit rooftop restaurants with outdoor space in the capital for you to enjoy this year. And we’d love to hear from you too, if you have a secret spot to share with other readers.
The best rooftop restaurants in central London
Let's start with the heart of London. Here you'll find a huge range of rooftop restaurants. From hotels to towers, central London has it all when it comes to dining in the sky.
Alto by San Carlo, Marylebone
For those that need a quick refresher on their Italian, ‘alto’ translates to high, and high up is exactly where you’ll be at Alto by San Carlo. Following a string of short popups, Selfridges’ rooftop is now home to this branch of the international Italian restaurant brand. While drinking in the sunshine from its open-air location, dine on the likes of penne arrabbiata or tiger prawns sautéed with garlic, white wine and chilli, before chasing it all with an Aperol Spritz or a glass of bubbly.
Where: 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB
Book now: Alto
Coq d’Argent, The City
Going for the gold standard on a street called Poultry, Coq d'Argent is near the top of the City’s pecking order. We reckon its status as a favourite in business diaries is down to a considerable clutch of attractions including gorgeous roof gardens, a heavily diverting wine list and ravishing good looks. Enjoy dishes such as escargots de Bourgogne or loup de mer (seared fillet of sea bass and mussels), before indulging in dessert such as the fondant au chocolat noir with pistachio ice cream.
Where: 1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ
Book now: Coq d’Argent
The Culpeper, Whitechapel
The Culpeper is a stripped-back, all-day venue dealing in patriotic grub with some Gallic overtones. The real gem of this east London joint, however, is its rooftop, which houses a fully-fledged vegetable farm that supplies ingredients for the kitchen. Head chef Sandy Jarvis works closely with head gardener Jack Astbury to serve guests produce of the highest quality. At the moment, it's serving a regenerative lunch menu featuring the likes of a fennel and mint salad, whole mackerel with crispy kale, and a lemon verbena posset with rhubarb compote and shortbread to finish.
Where: 40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP
Book now: The Culpeper
From the moment the lightning-quick glass elevator whisks you up to the 38th floor of Heron Tower, you know you can expect great views of the capital from SUSHISAMBA. Once inside, you can’t miss the incredible rooftop terrace or the covens of young City types splashing serious amounts of cash at the bar. With a direct view of The Gherkin and The Shard off in the distance, nibble on dishes from the restaurant’s Japanese-Latino inspired cuisine, such as Kobe churrasco or tuna belly nigiri.
Where: 110 Bishopsgate (38-39th floor), EC2N 4AY
Book now: Sushisamba
Madison, St Paul’s
Spectacular views of St Paul’s and the lure of alfresco drinks high above the City ensure that queues for the lift to Madison build early on summer afternoons. Soak up the sunshine on warm summer days while out on the restaurant’s rooftop terrace and lounge. While there, guests can order teriyaki baby back ribs or red prawn linguine with garlic butter sauce. Wash it all down with a punchy Rooftop Sunset cocktail, with vodka, pineapple tepache, vanilla, egg white and black cherry liqueur.
Where: One New Change, EC4M 9AF
Book now: Madison
Radio Rooftop, Covent Garden
Impossibly glamorous, the exclusive rooftop bar at ME London piles on the wow factor with its minimalist monochrome décor and views over the City skyline. On warm days, the prime spots are the white leather sofas by the rooftop edge, ideal for lounging in the sunshine. For peckish visitors, all-day eats include fried chicken, sliders and salads, along with a selection of indulgent desserts. Pair your meal with a drink from Radio Rooftop’s cocktail list, which features a Soundbyte made with limoncello, Galliano and prosecco, or a pink one made with pink gin.
Where: 336-337 The Strand, WC2R 1HA
Book now: Radio Rooftop Bar & Restaurant
Aviary is another rooftop staple, located in Finsbury Square. It’s an oyster, Campagne and steaks kind of place (and we’re here for it). Sip on signature cocktails like the Flamingo, made with gin, lime, apple, kiwi, rhubarb bitters and Champagne, before chowing down on oysters from Maldon, Lindisfarne, Carlingford or Jersey. If a dry-aged steak isn’t boujie enough, go for the whole grilled native lobster with triple-cooked chips and garlic and parsley butter. After a recent refurbishment, this spot is better than ever.
Where: 22-25 Finsbury Square, EC2A 1DX
Book now: Aviary
Smiths of Smithfield, Farringdon
Things get smarter the higher up you go at Farringdon's Smiths of Smithfield. Head straight to the top floor of the Grade II-listed building for wonderful views of The City and the option to dine outside on the restaurant's wonderful terrace. Choose from a variety of punchy British dishes with prime cuts of meat coming from local markets, or come here on Saturdays for a memorable free-flowing brunch.
Where: 67-77 Charterhouse Street, EC1M 6HJ
Book now: Smith's of Smithfield
Aqua Kyoto, Soho
It would be easy to think that you'd been transported to another European capital when sitting on the rooftop terrace at central London's Aqua Kyoto. That is, if you couldn't see the London Eye peeking over the buildings in the distance. There's a specific menu that you can order from when sitting on the terrace which features a mixture of Japanese favourites including sushi, tataki, tempura and more, while outdoor heaters mean that it doesn't need to be scorching weather for you to take advantage of this rooftop.
Where: 240 Regent Street (Entrance 30 Argyll Street), W1B 3BR
Book now: Aqua Kyoto
The only Michelin-starred entry on this list, Angler is certainly one of the best seafood restaurants in London. Sat atop the stylish South Place Hotel, this restaurant turns out beautifully presented dishes in this rooftop space bathed in natural light. Perfect for a truly special occasion, there is private dining available, as well as a tasting menu that provides a culinary journey in this lofty setting.
Where: 3 South Place, EC2M 2AF
Book now: Angler
The Rooftop at The Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square
Spread across three floors, the various roof terraces on top of the iconic Hippodrome Casino are the perfect place to enjoy an early-evening drink in town. There are also electric heaters for those days when it looks sunny but isn't actually that warm. The shared capacity of the terraces is 150, making this the ideal setting for a relaxed drinks party, be it with friends or colleagues.
Where: 10-14 Cranbourn Street, WC2H 7JH
Book now: The Rooftop at The Hippodrome Casino
Madera at Treehouse London, Oxford Circus
Come for the view, stay for the top-notch Mexican food. With openings in California and Arizona, Madera offers all-day dining with a killer vista of the city. Try the chorizo bowl if you're there for breakfast, which comes piled with sunny side up egg, crispy Yucatan potatoes, melted cheese and tres chiles salsa. Later in the day, there is a margarita flight that gives you a main, side, three margaritas and unlimited churros - pretty hard to say no to.
Where: 14-15 Langham Place, W1B 2QS
Book now: Madera at The Treehouse
The best rooftop restaurants in north London
Upmarket north London is home to a well-heeled crowd who know a good thing when they see one. To meet the demands of its residents, north London’s best rooftop restaurants are the perfect balance of chic and comfortable.
The Castle, Islington
There aren't many traditional London pubs that can boast a rooftop terrace but The Castle in Islington certainly can. It may not be the high-up experience that some of the other restaurants in our guide offer, but The Castle's rooftop is intimate and charming. Head here for British pub classics such as bangers and mash and burgers or why not come on a Sunday to enjoy an alfresco roast dinner?
Where: 54 Pentonville Road, N1 9HF
Book now: The Castle
The best rooftop restaurants in east London
There are lots of things east London is famous for, but we'd argue rooftop restaurants are one of them. Shoreditch, Hackney and the like all have their fair share, as well as Canary Wharf's more corporate options.
Boundary Rooftop, Shoreditch
The change in mood as you step out of the lift is tangible: from the concrete jungle below to an inviting area complete with big, comfy settees, a garden abundant with vines and wild herbs, and great views of east London. On the menu, you’ll find the likes of rock oysters and grilled lobster, and mains of confit duck leg or grilled halloumi with roasted vegetables. Take advantage of Boundary’s extensive drinks menu too by ordering a sweet cocktail, featuring the likes of gin, passion fruit and mint.
Where: 2-4 Boundary Street, E2 7DD
Book now: Boundary
There's nothing not to love about Allegra, found on the seventh floor of the luxurious Stratford Hotel. Not only does the slickly designed restaurant serve an exciting modern European menu created by head chef Patrick Powell, but the dining room also leads out onto a stunning wrap-around rooftop terrace. Packed with greenery, water features and more, Allegra's terrace also has heaters making it an alfresco dining destination all year round.
Where: 20 International Way, E20 1FD
Book now: Allegra
Roka, Canary Wharf
Serving up high glamour with bamboo and polished wood from a high-above-the-ground location, Roka is the antithesis of a modest Japanese restaurant. With an ambience influenced by a boisterous, enthusiastic crowd and consistently top-notch bites, Roka satisfies all rooftop and dining needs on a balmy summer’s evening. While there, guests can indulge in Roka’s decadent menu, which features padron pepper tempura, freshwater eel and baby back ribs with cashew nuts.
Where: 40 Canada Square, E14 5FW
Book now: Roka
Laurel's on the Roof, Shoreditch
Tucked away at the top of the Mondrian Hotel, Laurel's on the Roof transports guests to 1970's Hollywood with its West Coast-inspired decor and menu. Plentiful greenery, low-hanging rattan chandeliers and wicker furniture offer a laid-back Cali vibe during the day, while fairy lights illuminate both the indoor restaurant and outdoor terrace when the sun goes down. Feast on signatures dishes such as the Malibu shrimp cocktail, cobb salad and Jersey oysters, while guzzling down frozen spicy Margaritas.
Where: 45 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PT
Book now: Laurel's on the Roof
The best rooftop restaurants in south London
Once you combine the South Bank and Peckham, your cup runneth over in the rooftop restaurant department in south London. Lots of these are set on the roofs of clubs, so be sure to pack your dancing shoes.
Bussey Rooftop, Peckham
While many Londoners may only know the Bussey Building (AKA CLF Art Cafe) as a four-floor music venue, the rooftop here is not to be missed. The music at Bussey often ventures to the roof during summer, where it can be enjoyed alongside some seriously good food courtesy of Share a Slice. Try the anchovy bread of the deep-fried burrata on the side. Perfect sunshine food.
Where: 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST
Book now: Bussey Rooftop
Frank’s Cafe, Peckham
Frank’s Cafe is easily one of the most well-known rooftops in south London. It used to be one of Peckham’s best-kept secrets, but now the word is out. Sat atop the music, food and cultural hub that is Peckham Levels, Frank’s is only open during summer. Offering up brunch, small plates, beers, wines, cocktails and more, this is the ideal spot to watch the sunset with a group of friends, or date for that matter.
Where: 95A Rye Lane, SE15 4ST
Book now: Frank’s Cafe
Forza Wine, Peckham
Sat atop Market Peckham directly opposite Peckham Rye station, Forza Wine is a bit of a hidden gem when it comes to rooftop restaurants. Shoot up to the top floor in a lift and you'll arrive in what is basically a glass cuboid bar-cum-dining room, which leads out onto a glorious terrace area. Offering up snacky Italian crowd-pleasers, you can order the full menu here to share as a group for a little over £100, while the wine list is well worth exploring too, as the restaurant's name suggests.
Where: 133A Rye Lane, SE15 4BQ
Book now: Forza Wine
12th Knot at Sea Containers, South Bank
With a sexy mix of jewel-bright Mad Men-era furnishings and a tweaked Thames terrace with stunning views of the City, 12th Knot oozes decadence for those seeking a glamorous evening out. While out on the terrace, which offers a direct view of St Paul's and Blackfriars Bridge, indulge in the elegant menu, which features oysters, ceviche tacos and charcuterie boards, alongside sliders and croquettes for something more substantial.
Where: 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD
Book now: 12th Knot
Bar Elba, Waterloo
Bar Elba, which sits directly opposite Waterloo Station, is a favourite for bottomless brunch, as well as sunset cocktails before going clubbing. Choose from a range of nachos, hot dogs, burgers, tacos, wings and loaded fries to tuck into whiles sipping on colourful cocktails. There are classic mixes like espresso martinis available, alongside house concoctions like the 'sink the pink', made with lemongrass-infused Absolut, lychee liqueur, grapefruit soda and sparkling wine.
Where: 109-117 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UL
Book now: Bar Elba
Seabird in The Hoxton lives up to the Insta hype, with picture-perfect interiors and some of the best cocktails in the city. While you’re quenching your thirst, you may as well treat yourself to some of the restaurant’s mix and match style plates. Our top picks are the moreish pan con tomate which is perfectly seasoned and hides the slightest hint of garlic, the octopus dog (which somehow manages to balance novelty factor with clean, fabulous flavours) and just about anything from the charcoal grill, which kindly gifts fish and meat with its wonderful hum of smoke. Don't miss London's longest oyster menu here too. Views from the rooftop tick off some of London’s best skyline features, like The Shard and its equipped with heaters and blankets for all-year enjoyment.
Where: 40 Blackfriars Road, SE1 8NY
Book now: Seabird
OXO Tower Brasserie, South Bank
High up on the eighth floor of the OXO Tower, this fashion-conscious, brasserie-style eyrie offers great views of the South Bank from its rooftop terrace. Here, among its convivial, easy-going surroundings, sun-seekers can indulge in a leisurely summer’s evening at OXO, while tucking into the likes of seared scallops or a sirloin steak for mains, before moving onto desserts such as a blueberry and lemon cheesecake. Expect an extra sparkle in the evening too, as the brasserie is known to be home to live jazz and mellow piano music at times.
Where: Barge House Street, SE1 9PH
Book now: OXO Tower
The best rooftop restaurants in west London
Heading west, you'll still find plenty of choice, perhaps of a more boujie nature. The quality of food here is top-notch, with some options offering options worthy of a serious blow-out.
The Broadcaster, White City
If you find yourself out west and in need of a spot of food or a cocktail, head over to the old BBC Television Centre building at White City - The Broadcaster is the aptly-named new bar and restaurant in residence, and has taken over multiple floors of the old building, including a spacious rooftop where you can catch some rays in the summer, and gaze over the London skyline with a glass of something in hand. The Broadcaster is a pretty versatile venue all-in-all - you'll find rooftop yoga, barbecues and all sorts of other events happening up here throughout the year.
Where: 89 Wood Lane, W12 7FX
Book now: The Broadcaster
Roof Garden at Pantechnicon, Belgravia
The Roof Garden atop the shopping and dining destination Pantechnicon is truly versatile. Open all year round, it’s one of our favourite spots for brunch. Expect delicious dishes like a salted miso caramel brioche to start, or baked eggs with Vasterbotten cheese and charred rye bread for something a little more substantial. Brunch cocktails here aren’t to be missed, with umami bloody Marys and cloudberry mimosas available. The menu shifts to larger plates later in the day, with steaks, roast chicken, cod, braised chicory and whole crumbed lemon sole on offer.
Where: 19 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8LB
Book now: Roof Garden at Pantechnicon
Possibly the largest restaurant on the list, Pergola Paddington is well-established as a prime rooftop destination. There’s plenty of choice too, including snacks, small and large plates, fresh cocktails, craft beer and bubbly for special occasions. There are multiple food options from Filth&Co. (burgers), Kwispy Fried Chicken and YUKI by Niji Kitchen (sushi). Plus, the long communal tables make this a great place to go with a large group.
Where: 4 Kingdom Street, W2 6PY
Book now: Pergola Paddington
The Rooftop The Trafalgar St. James, St. James
Another iconic location, The Rooftop St. James offers elegant food with an equally elegant view. Look over central London while you enjoy small plates like duck rillettes, salt and pepper fried squid with aioli or a prawn beignet, before moving onto larger plates like grilled salmon with sorrel cream, beef brisket with wild mushroom sauce or an Alpine beef burger with raclette, truffle sauce and curly fries.
Where: 2 Spring Gardens, SW1A 2TS
Book now: The Rooftop St. James
If you can’t get enough of eating outdoors, check out our full list of the best outdoor restaurants in London.