Cocktails and Cityscapes in London
London has more than one iconic skyline. The City of London financial district is a strange array of disparate skyscrapers, from the gorgeous (the Shard) to the unusual (the Walkie-Talkie). Big Ben and the London Eye lie further west along the bend of the Thames, while if you head east you reach Canary Wharf and the O2 arena – another instantly recognizable corner of the city.
The best way to see the cityscapes of London is from high up in the air, where you can take in all of the sights at once. Unless you’re working in an office block or flying over the city, your best chance at achieving a raised vantage point is visiting one of the many rooftop or skyscraper bars that offer a drink with a view. So, to help you find the ideal place for appreciating London’s landmarks, we’ve picked out some of the best spots that combine sundowners and scenery.
Waterloo is perfectly positioned on the bend of the river for views in different directions of London. That means you’ll be able to see the city’s skyscrapers to the north, the houses of Parliament to the west, and the Shard to the east. The bar itself has a laid-back, colorful atmosphere with long communal bencheswhich encourage friendliness and interaction between the patrons. The only challenge is choosing from its extensive and mouthwatering cocktail menu.
London City’s financial district provides the dramatic backdrop to an evening in the Rumpus Room. This stylish bar is situated right on the edge of the Thames, with a glass interior and a balcony that’s often buzzing with activity. Enjoy expertly prepared cocktails dreamt up by some of the best in the business, listen to live music every Wednesday, and gaze out at iconic landmarks such as the Gherkin and St. Paul’s.
Snag yourself a window seat in one of Heron Tower’s two sky-high bars and you’re in for a treat. This imposing skyscraper is right in the heart of London City, hosting a concert hall, theater, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama on its lower floors. Head up to the 38th floor for Sushisamba, an elegant restaurant with a tree offering shade over the bar area. Climb two floors up for the Duck and Waffle, a sophisticated British restaurant with dizzying views. Dress smartly if you want to bag a spot in this high-end, high-altitude spot.
Capeesh Sky Bar
If you’re in Canary Wharf for business or just dropping by the nearby museums, pay a visit to Capeesh Sky Bar. Your views of the Docklands, Greenwich, and the Thames are complemented by quality cocktails and delicious snacks. Amazingly, it doesn’t come with a hefty price tag to match its impressive vistas.
Radio Rooftop Bar
The exclusivity and higher prices of the famous Radio Rooftop Bar are enough to put off many potential customers, but those who do venture here are rewarded with unparalleled views of central London. You’re positioned perfectly between the river, the West End and London City, so there’s something to see in every direction.
London’s most famous cathedral, St. Paul’s, is the star attraction in Madison. You’ll find this reasonably priced bar on the top floor of the shopping center One New Change, with a dream location opposite the iconic domed church. If you’re just here for the views, skip the bar and head straight to the roof; and remember to bring your camera.
Eschewing the dress codes and sophistication of central London’s rooftop bars, Frank’s is all about low-key vibes. This popular Peckham establishment still comes with great views – almost the entire skyline is visible from this South London spot – but it’s situated on top of a car parking lot. The converted space is simultaneously edgy and welcoming as a result, with a crackling atmosphere on hot summer nights.
With the French word for “money” or “silver” in the name, you can expect to spend a little more in this central London location. Splash out and the rewards are significant. Elegant rooftop gardens in the very heart of London and delectable French cuisine make this a desirable destination, ideal for a date or wowing business clients.
It makes sense that the tallest building in London has some of the best views. Book ahead for a spot in the Gong, the highest of the Shard’s three bars, and settle in for some delicious cocktails while gazing out at the rest of London. The only catch? You can’t see the Shard from the top of the Shard.