London rooftop bars … with a view

We lived in New York City a few years ago and spent many summer evenings looking at the Manhattan skyline from a rooftop bar.

Now we’re back in London and I’m busy discovering London rooftop bars all over again. These ones come with views over iconic London landscapes that you just can’t find in NYC –  St Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square and the River Thames.

So if you’re visiting London this summer and want to sample a London view whilst sipping a margherita and nibbling on a few olives, try some of these. I’ve picked out a few that are in good central locations and easy for you to get to whilst you might be visiting other cultural hotspots.

Madisons Rooftop Terrace  You can’t beat this venue for a close-up view of St Paul’s Cathedral. Don’t let the Madison website deceive you.  Alongside their restaurant is the Terrace bar with outstanding views of Christopher Wren’s stunning 365′ high dome.  Though you can’t take drinks right up to the edge, you just can’t miss this one for the photo book. Take an elevator from from the shopping mall in 1 New Change to the very top. You’ll find a restaurant and a bar with  seating outside. It gets very busy with City office workers during the evening – so I would aim for an early cocktail to avoid the post 6pm rush. And if you don’t fancy a drink – just soak up the view. Plenty of public access here for all.

Radio Rooftop Bar in the Strand is very popular. On the 10th floor of a building, with great views of the London Eye, Trafalgar Square and the River Thames. And it’s position on the Aldwych means that it’s in prime location for you if you’re visiting theatre on the Strand, or are all shopped out after a few hours in Covent Garden. Get there early – Mondays are good.  Reports on the quality, service and food are a bit hit and miss and drinks pricy. Dress code: ‘trendy’ and casual….. no trainers or sportswear.

View over Trafalgar Square from Vista rooftop bar
View over Trafalgar Square from the Vista Rooftop Bar at the Trafalgar Hotel

And finally the Vista Rooftop Bar – you can’t get more central than this one. Located at the Trafalgar Hotel in Trafalgar Square. So if you’ve been enjoying Van Gogh, Vermeer and Renaissance painters in the collection of art at the National Gallery in the Square, then reward yourself with a cool beer at this rooftop venue.  You will never get a better picture of Admiral Nelson for Facebook, perched at the top of his column. It’s also well located for a lunchtime drink if you’ve just been to Buckingham Palace in the Mall to watch the Changing of the Guard. Just a short walk up the Mall from the Palace to Trafalgar Square.

There’s many others to discover, and if you want to find out a few more in more out of the way places try TimeOut’s listing which will take you a little further afield. Those that I’ve picked out here are in locations that may be easier for you to build in to your own itineraries as you visit London sites.

And whilst your there, have a dry Martini for me (with an olive please…)

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