What happens when the weather gets five degrees warmer? You rush to the nearest alfresco bar and spend all of your money on a pink-hued, icy cocktail. It's basically a ritual. And now it's summer (with unwelcome bouts of rainpour, naturally) this is a pastime that needs to be made the most of.
If, like us, you have exhausted all of your usual watering holes and have resolved that this is the summer you will visit some new hotspots, we know where you should start. We have tried and tested some of London's best rooftop bars and terraces to bring you some venues you'll want to add to your tick-list.
After all, life is too short for bad views.
Where: 5th Floor, 240 Regent Street, (Entrance on 30 Argyll St, W1F 7EB), London W1B 3BR
The setting: Shoot up above Regent Street to Spanish restaurant Aqua Nueva - which shares its penthouse and terrace with Japenese restaurant Aqua Kyoto (both part of Aqua London) - and from the moment you step into the glossy reception area you will feel like you're in a Bond film.
The atmosphere: Aqua Nueva oozes opulence. The low, tunnel-like ceilings, dim-lighting, spotlighting and mirrored surfaces sets an overwhelmingly sexy scene. The terrace is stylish and has views as far as the eyes can see, which come to life after dark when there is a golden glow from Regent Street's windows.
The occasion: If you're looking for a new romantic spot for date night, Aqua Nueva is the place.
Food & drink: Aqua Nueva's tapas is the best in town, and the cocktails are so delicious that you will sink them in seconds and be onto your fifth before you know it (take it from us). We recommend the Sunset on Regent Street cocktail, and for food it doesn't get much better than the seafood croquetas.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday: 12 - 1am; Sunday: 12 - 8pm.
Where: Madison Restaurant, Rooftop Terrace, One New Change, St Paul’s, London EC4M 9AF
The setting: Take the glass elevator up to the penthouse of One New Change and you are standing above London’s skyline, shoulder-to-shoulder with the majestic dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The views of London are breathtaking, and if you’re there at golden hour and catch the Cathedral silhouette at sunset, you might just feel a little smitten.
The atmosphere: Weekday summer evenings in the city are bustling, and Madison welcomes a crowd of well-dressed corporate types celebrating the end of the working day, perched on sofas, slurping cocktails.
The occasion: Book a table in the restaurant for a special occasion: a birthday or a big celebration. Alternatively, set aside one warm weekend and reserve a table on the terrace.
Food and drink: The impressive menu boats some heavenly dishes, from small bites to sharing platters. The steak and the halibut are particularly special, wash it down with a Ca’ di Ponti and you have yourself a 10/10 meal.
Opening times: Monday to Wednesday: 11am – late; Thursday to Saturday: 11am – 1am; Sunday: 11am - 9pm.
Where: Lower Thames Street, London 3 Three Quays Walk, London EC3R 6AH
The setting: Coppa Club is located Thames-side under the shadow of Tower Bridge, opposite the Shard and HMS Belfast. Coppa Club’s south-facing terrace is transformed in accordance with the seasons - some may remember the stunning riverside igloos over Christmas-time - and this summer you can dine beneath picture-perfect botanical frames.
The atmosphere: There is a buzz in the air at Coppa Club, encouraged by the enthusiastic staff, and the vibe is relaxed and inviting.
The occasion: Go to Coppa Club to brunch on a Saturday morning, or go for dinner and drinks at sunset. Basically, if the weather is nice you'll want to be there.
Food & drink: From pizzas and burgers to crab linguine, the European-inspired menu is modest but delightfully tasty. To drink? It has to be an Aperol Spritz - everyone has one in hand.
Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 7:30am - 11pm; Friday: 7:30am - 12am; Saturday: 9am - 12am; Sunday 9am - 10:30pm.
Where: 61-63 Shaftesbury Avenue, Westminster, London W1D 6LQ
The setting: Inconspicuously nestled between restaurants on Shaftesbury Avenue is the entrance to Soho's hidden gem, Century Club. Spanning across four floors of a Victorian building, Century boasts luxury lounges, bars and private function rooms. However, the crowning jewel has to be the rooftop terrace, which has breath-taking views over London’s West End.
The atmosphere: Century’s intimate rooftop is a tranquil, stylish oasis, worlds away from the bustle of London’s streets. The vibe is relaxed and friendly, making it the perfect place to unwind after a long day.
The occasion: Century is a private members club (the standard annual fee for members is £750 and £400 for under 30s), so the rooftop is London’s best kept secret. Relax on Century’s rooftop with a glass of wine and enjoy the exceptional views whatever the weather (the rooftop has a cover to cater to the unpredictable British seasons).
Food & drink: Century has three cocktail bars, lounges and an all-day menu which offers the best of British cuisine as well as diverse, flavoursome dishes.
Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 8am – 12am; Friday: 8am – 12am; Saturday: 5pm – 1am; Sunday: closed.
Pergola on the Roof
Where: Multi Story Car Park, Television Centre, Wood Lane, White City, London W12 7RJ
The setting: Back for its second year after a successful summer in 2016, Pergola on the Roof is one of London's ultimate hotspots. It is situated 100 feet above West London's skyline, and its décor is inspired by the Hamptons - complete with palm trees, pastel colours and beach-y cocktails. It mixes concrete with tropical; urban with tranquility.
The atmosphere: Pergola gets busy on warm days, and it’s no surprise. It looks like a luxe (and insanely photogenic) beer garden, and the vibe is lively.
The occasion: The venue - just like its newly-opened sister venue, Pergola at Paddington Central - can seat up to 600 people, so if you’re a big group there’s no better place to socialise this summer than Pergola. Just make sure you book ahead, and perhaps consider getting a day bed if your party is over 13 people.
Food & drink: Each Pergola venue features two bars and five pop-up food kiosks at a self-service basis. This year there are multiple cuisines: get a burger at Patty And Bun, Asian street food at Mamalan or Mediterranean-inspired dishes at 8 Hoxton Square.
Opening times: Monday to Tuesday: closed; Wednesday to Friday: 6pm – 11pm; Saturday: 12pm – 11pm; Sunday 12pm – 9:30pm.
J.Sheekey Atlantic Bar
Where: 33-35 St Martin's Court, London WC2N 4AL
The setting: Nestled just off Leicester Square's tourist hub in a quiet side street, J.Sheekey Atlantic Bar - the sister of the famous J.Sheekey restaurant - escorts you to the seaside. You can either dine inside on the horseshoe-shaped bar or alfresco on the romantic terrace.
The atmosphere: J.Sheekey Altantic Bar is chic, elegant and surprisingly tranquil. Alfresco-diners can enjoy the summer sun and, on chilly evenings, will be kept warm with heaters and blankets.
The occasion As it is located at the hub of theatreland, J.Sheekey Atlantic Bar is the perfect place to dine pre- or post-show.
Food & drink: If you like seafood cuisine, you won't have tasted it quite as good as this. The menu is full of small, sharing plates, and special props go to the Tuna Poke and the Bream.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday: 12 - 12; Sunday: 12 - 10:30pm.
Where: No.1 Poultry, London EC2R 8EJ
The setting: Located above the busy streets of Bank, Coq d'Argent has the best views of the City skyline.
The atmosphere: The vibe on the terrace is relaxed and peaceful, and this summer the terrace has live jazz on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday nights.
The occasion: After work or on a lazy weekend, Coq d’Argent’s terrace is the perfect place to relax with friends, and enjoy the delightful menu.
Food & drink: The French menu is exquisite. and on the terrace you can choose from an array of bar snacks including camembert, calamari, escargots and Crevettes Grillées – the best prawns you will ever taste. For something to drink, the Palatial and the French Blonde cocktails are sensational.
Opening times: Monday to Thurday: 11:30am – 12am; Friday: 11:30am – 1am; Saturday: 12pm – 1am; Sunday: 12pm – 4pm.
Foley's at Gardening Society on John Lewis Roof Garden
Where: The Roof Garden, John Lewis, 300 Oxford Street, Marylebone, London W1C 1DX
The setting: Escape the hubbub of Oxford Street by climbing to the fifth floor of John Lewis and relaxing in a delightfully British-themed garden, complete with green lawns, blankets, garden furniture and summer houses. Open only for its second summer, Gardening Society is a bad-kept secret with spectacular views of the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and the Shard.
The atmosphere: The garden is jam-packed on warm evenings and every inch of the lawn is occupied by groups of friends laid out on blankets with cocktails in hand. With a capacity of 200 people, it's best to book ahead and grab yourself a table, especially if you plan on getting a bite to eat.
The occasion: Anyone in central London (especially any exhausted shoppers) in need of watering and a light snack will love Gardening Society and appreciate the relaxed vibe.
Food & drink: The Foley's menu is minimal - consisting only of small bites, tacos and desserts - but oh does it deliver. It prides itself on its fusion of Middle-Eastern and Asian flavours, offering octopus tacos (a must try) as well as sticky beef and pork belly tacos, burnt chicken ends and sweet potato fritters - great food to graze on while enjoying a refreshing cocktail.
Opening times: Sunday to Wednesday: last entry 8pm, closes at 9pm; Thursday to Saturday: last entry 10pm, closes at 11pm.
johnlewis.com/roof-garden | Bookings: email@example.com
Where: Radio Rooftop Bar, ME London, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA
The setting: Radio is situated on 10 stories high on the roof of the ME London hotel. The terrace wraps around the sharp point of the building, so if you want 360 views of London - from the Shard in the East to Big Ben in the West - here's where to get them.
The atmosphere: The views from Radio - along with the stunning architecture and decor - is what has earnt Radio its reputation as London's premiere rooftop bar. The energy is as high as the skyline, with great music and a friendly vibe.
The occasion: Radio is the perfect venue to host a special occasion. Celebrate with friends over champagne or cocktails, or have a brunch with a view on the weekend.
Food & drink: Staying for a cocktail? We recommend the Radio Garden. For brunch it has to be the Kilner Jar Poached Egg or Buttermilk Stacked Pancakes.
Opening times: Monday to Wednesday: 12 - 1am; Thursday and Friday: 12 - 2am; Saturday: 11am - 2am; Sunday: 11am - 12am.
Dalston Roof Park
Where: 18 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL
The setting: Dalston Roof Park is East London's urban oasis - an eclectic and buzzy venue from the Bootstrap Company that has been revamped its look once again for the summer. Become a friend with DRP on Facebook and give a donation on your first visit (which goes towards the charitable aims of Boostrap Company) and then it’s free.
The atmosphere: Dalston Roof Park is decked out to cater to the unpredictable British summer. It has a roofed bar area as well as an open-air seating area where guests can soak up the sunshine.
The occasion: There are cutting edge music events and club nights held all summer long, attracting the coolest creatives from the East London crowd. There are also charity fundraisers, film screenings, fashion shows and more.
Food & drink: This summer, Dalston Roof Park has collaborated with Far Out Food to bring the best of Gastro dining. Cocktail-wise, you can't go wrong with a caipirinha in the sunshine.
Opening times: Monday to Friday: 9am - 3pm (Monday evening is closed); Tuesday to Friday: 5pm - 11pm; Saturday: 3pm to 12am; Sunday: 3pm - 10pm.
Where: 1 Westgate Street, London Fields, London E8 3RL
The setting: Netil360 is a spacious and exciting rooftop on top of Netil House with panoramic views. It prides itself on its ethos of having no-exclusivity, no-bookings and free-entry.
The atmosphere: Netil360 invites everyone to make the most of the space, whether you want to set up a work space and enjoy the view, take part in a yoga class, watch a film outside or relax with drinks.
The occasion: Netil360 is the best place to lay out and catch some rays this summer. The best time to go is early evening before sunset, as last orders are at 10:30pm and it closes at 11pm.
Food & drink: The cafe-style food and drink caters from day to night. Enjoy a coffee whilst you work, and perhaps an Aeperol Spritz as the day closes...
Opening times: Monday & Tuesday: closed. Wednesday: 12pm - 9pm; Thursday: 12pm - 11pm; Friday: 12pm - 11pm; Saturday: 12pm - 11pm; Sunday: 12pm - 9pm.