Duck & Waffle, 40th Floor

Heron Tower restaurants London

Babylon Roof GardensThe season of al fresco is upon us once more, and though we all enjoy basking on outdoor tables on cobbled backstreets, there’s nothing quite like heading skywards for views, sunshine and a blast of fresh air. From high-rise bohemian hangouts to elegant elevated gardens, check out our picks for rooftop imbibing in London.

1. Babylon Roof Gardens Book Babylon Roof Gardens


Babylon Roof Gardens

Floating 7 floors above the streets of London, Babylon Roof Gardens is a little bubble of tranquillity in Kensington, owned by Virgin tycoon, Richard Branson. The roof’s prevailing greenery and the gentle pad of Babylon’s resident flamingos render the rat race below forgotten, and menus focus on modern European fare, complemented by a staggering cocktail list.

2. SkyLounge Book SkyLounge

Tower Hill


Stretching a few floors higher than its London rooftop counterparts, the 12th floor SkyLounge boasts 360-degree views of London, so it’s one of the few spots offering every-angle views of the city. Patio heaters and parasols mean this seasonal pop-up is primed for the hit-and-miss British summer time, and the resident DJ spins a chilled soundtrack. Classic afternoon teas are a SkyLounge staple, while juicy treats are served from the sizzling barbecue when the sun shines.

SkyLounge3. Aqua Kyoto Book Aqua Kyoto

Regent Street

Aqua Kyoto

Atop the former Dickens & Jones building, Japanese restaurant Aqua Kyoto is the sister restaurant of the much-lauded Aqua Shard. Though it’s slightly closer to the ground than its sibling, this spacious sun trap commands views over the shoppers’ bustle of Regent Street. Indoors, celebrated chefs craft supremely fresh dishes bursting with colour and natural flavours: bask out on the terrace with a platter of expertly-rolled sushi, cleansing Japanese teas and exotic cocktails.

4. Coq d’Argent Book Coq d’Argent

St Paul’s

Coq d’Argent

Coq d’Argent’s lush preened lawn and manicured hedgerows are a stark contrast from the imposing angles and curves of The Shard, The Gherkin and the car-melting ‘Walkie Talkie’ building that can be spotted from this fantastic London viewpoint. An oasis of calm above the bustle of St Paul’s, enjoy flawless French menus served from breakfast through ‘til late: meaning you can catch views of London in any light.

aqua-kyoto5. Frank’s


Frank‘s (image by Time Out)

Though a multi-storey car park in Peckham might seem better suited to Del Boy dealings than artisan dining, Frank’s is the seasonal pop-up that’s taken London by storm for the past few summers. Open from June through to September, Frank’s is a no-fuss tarmacked space, littered with chunky wood furniture that fills up with punters FAST (no bookings are taken at weekends). The kitchen is headed by one of Peckham’s own, who returns to his childhood postcode after stints at some of the world’s best restaurants.

6. OXO Tower Book OXO Tower

South Bank

OXO Tower

With its iconic beef stock logo an ever-present twinkle on the South Bank skyline, the OXO Tower is a London restaurant requiring no introduction. The glass-fronted dining room faces the Thames: a clean-cut cocoon for enjoying stunning panoramas, while the grassed terrace looks right down onto the South Bank. Luscious, fruit-filled cocktails are almost a foregone requirement here, and seasonal menus offer playful twists on tradition.

7. Vista at The Trafalgar Book Vista at The Trafalgar

Trafalgar Square

Coq d'Argent Vista at The Trafalgar

Being seated pretty much at eye-level with Nelson atop his column, it’s not surprising that the dramatic cityscapes seen from Vista have provided the backdrop for many a marriage proposal. This is a good one for any acoraphobics, as encircling rows of clipped hedges and curled railings ensure the area doesn’t feel too exposed, and there are no dreaded sheer-drop views. During summer 2015, Vista’s resident pop up will be the BLOOM gin company, who’ll offer distinct floral gins and cocktail masterclasses.

8. Orrery Book Orrery



A perfectly poised dining spot from veteran restaurant group D&D, Orrery serves delicate French-themed dishes, as well as door wedge-thick cheeses from its famous fromage trolley. You could easily be in south west France if you didn’t know you were metres above Marylebone, with this tranquil spot lined with olive trees and fragrant lavender, and sheltered by a sunshine-yellow awning.

9. Sushisamba

Liverpool Street

Sushisamba (image by Conde Nast Traveller)

Famed for the Great Glass Elevator-style lift taken to get to its dizzying altitude, Sushisamba spans the 38th & 39th floors of the glittering Heron Tower. Serving up an eclectic mix of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian sushi, Sushisamba’s interior is spectacular: an ethereal Magic Faraway-style tree twists upwards from the glowing island bar and arching bamboo curves across the ceiling. But, it’s the terrace that Sushisamba has become famous for: it’s one of London’s highest, and the peak of The Gherkin feels as if it’s within touching distance.

10. The Boundary


The Boundary (image by Love That)

Proudly showcasing a vine-covered pergola, The Boundary is one of the few rooftop bars in London that’s open for business whatever the weather. Horticulture is a big deal here, with herbs picked from the working kitchen garden, and grapes produced on those sprawling vines. Mediterranean-influenced food showcases clean, simple flavours, with guests able to enjoy views down onto the edgy east London bustle as they dine.

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Originally from Cumbria, Emma is always on the lookout for exciting new places to eat in London. Topping Emma's rankings at present are Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, Foxlow and Galvin La Chapelle. In her spare time, Emma enjoys trawling old bookshops, baking, and losing at pub quizzes.

franks OXO Tower vista orrery
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