Best rooftop bars in the UK
We've found the best places to soak up sunshine and city views with a cocktail or two, from slick hotel bars to hipster street food spots and everything in between
Looking for the best rooftop bars? We’re lucky if summer lasts a whole weekend in the UK, so when we do get a glimmer of sunshine, you need to know exactly where to go to make the most of it. With that in mind, we’ve put together our pick of the best across the UK, places with great drinks and even better views.
In recent years, Peckham has become home to many renowned rooftop restaurants and bars. Skylight Peckham, on top of theatre school Mountview, is the newest in the fleet of rooftop restaurants and boasts a striking sweeping city-wide view. The impressive interiors, including a zinc-topped bar are second to their signature list of cocktails – including a south London iced tea, packed with Hennessey and cranberry juice. A comforting and spacious interior makes this a perfect place for warm summer evenings on the terrace or even somewhere to sit and have lunch while working. A highlight on the menu was the burrata topped with smoked aubergine and nduja, or visit on Sundays for a rotating BBQ menu featuring South African, Portuguese and Jamaican dishes. skylightbars.com/peckham
Frank’s Café, London
This is about as trendy and hipster as you get, but in the best possible way. On top of a multi-story car park in Peckham, Campari is the drink of choice here (try it in a sbagliato if you find it too bitter), but there are also other cocktails and the obligatory Pimm’s and lemonade. Snacks are pretty good, too, so get some smoked paprika sweetcorn or sardines with tomatoes and oregano to have alongside your negroni.
Varsity hotel and spa, Cambridge
With views out over many of the university colleges, this sky-high hotel bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a bit of lazy sight-seeing. It is a big space, with different seating areas including sofas to sink into as you consider the bar’s extensive champagne list. There are BBQs every Friday-Sunday from 12pm: order a classic bun or try a tuna steak burger with Niçoise relish.
On the sixth floor of the Trinity Leeds shopping centre, Angelica has a wraparound planted terrace and panoramic city views. Seats on the terrace are highly prized when the weather allows – it’s the ideal place to relax with a cocktail and a sharing board or plate of fruits de mer.
From the team at Hyde & Co, Bambalan is an industrial space made welcoming with bright blue booths and a huge, colourful mural. It’s open all day, with food cooked in a wood-fired oven, charcoal robata grill or rotisserie. The drinks menu is equally good, with coolers, vermouth and tonic pairings and jug cocktails the perfect pairings for the restaurant’s sunny roof terrace.
Observatory Bar, Belfast
The Grand Central hotel's 23rd floor rooftop bar is a must-visit, before or after dinner. With its own private lift, it’s become something of a destination for trendy Belfasters. But don’t mistake that for exclusivity; the welcome as you reach the top floor is still very warm. Each cocktail refers to a local landmark – try Napoleon’s Nose (a heady mix of mezcal, Benedictine, fig and orange bitters), or the more floral Botanical Garden, made from gin, rhubarb, aperol, pomegranate, pink peppercorn and citrus.
20 Stories, Manchester
D&D London group has bagged the 19th floor of the No1 Spinningfields building in central Manchester. With 360-degree views, the swish space brings the outside in with glamorous interiors inspired by nature (plenty of wood, hanging plants, stone features). The bar and outdoor terrace is dedicated to cocktails, including the signature 20 Stories cocktail made with Tanqueray gin, vermouth, honey and herb cordial, and grapes shaken with fresh lemon.
The Sky Bar, Edinburgh
The Sky Bar at the top of the Hilton sits between the Old Town and Lothian Road in the centre of Edinburgh. It’s only open on the first Thursday of each month so get there early to bag yourself a table and enjoy one of the best views of the city (the panorama includes Edinburgh’s iconic castle) with a craft beer, a glass of wine or a glass of fizz.
More like this
Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, Birmingham
Set in the strikingly modern Cube building in Birmingham’s Mailbox district, this restaurant is 25 floors up with panoramic views across the city. To make the most of it, head out to its newly opened terrace and sip a glass of Laurent Perrier from their dedicated bar.
Pergola on the Roof, London
It’s not just the East End that’s turning its car parks into foodie hot spots. Shepherd’s Bush is getting in on the action with Pergola on the Roof on top of the multi-storey at Television Centre. With whitewashed woods, fairy lights and a giant pergola covered in blossoming vines you’ll feel like you’re on holiday. The food is great, too, with pop-ups from Salt Yard, Patty & Bun, LeCoq and Rabbit.
Sushi Samba, London
A vertigo-inducing 38 storeys above London, you’re guaranteed some of the best views over the city at this Japanese/Brazilian/Peruvian mash-up. The crowds gather quickly but make it through the scrum and you’ll be rewarded with fantastic cocktails from Richard Woods. Think padrón pepper caipirinhas, Green Tea-ni and the much talked about Kobe cocktail; a take on an old fashioned washed with kobe beef fat and stirred with maple and salted caramel.