Travelling can be thirsty work. And while it’s admirable to not want to spend your precious time in another city holed up in a bar, by choosing one with a view you’re really killing two birds with one stone.
With two of my favourite pastimes being enjoying a drink and rooftops, after living in London for two and a half years I like to think of myself as somewhat qualified to write about the best bars where the views are so good you won’t feel guilty.
Located on the sixth floor of One New Change, this tapas restaurant and bar features a large outdoor terrace. It extends so far you can practically reach out and touch St Paul’s Cathedral. Which is, incidentally, why you would come here, as it is indisputably the best view of the landmark and spot from which to photograph it. To ease your guilt further you can attend a church service before cheering your efforts. The best time to go is weekday afternoons. Avoid Friday nights when all the banker w*nkers come out.
While not quite a rooftop – thankfully from a safety point of view anyway – embarrassingly it has taken me more than two years to make it up The Shard. With a choice of three restaurant/ bars, on the 31st, 32nd and 33rd floors, you can tailor your view. In the middle, Oblix is a more formal dining restaurant with views of Tower Bridge. Aqua is slightly more casual on the 31st floor, featuring a three-storey atrium bar, and Hutong is more laid back again on the 33rd floor. Both Aqua and Hutong feature more 180-degree views from St Paul’s and London Bridge to Tower Bridge.
Another tall building and another two choices for panoramic views. On the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate you have Duck & Waffle, open 24/7 and offering breakfast, brunch and late-night desserts, all designed to be accompanied by a cocktail or three. A seat near the window provides spectacular views so long as the weather is good. Sushi Samba is on the 38th and 39th floors, offering the highest outdoor bar and dining terrace in Europe with 360-degree views of London. A word of warning, if you don’t like heights the glass lifts are somewhat terrifying and whatever you do, don’t look out the window!
Located on the eighth floor of the iconic Southbank landmark, this restaurant-cum-brasserie-cum-bar offers spectacular views of the Thames and London skyline. The perfect choice for a sundowner with the best seats in the house being on the garden terrace, from where you can watch the city wind down for the night.
Saving my favourite until last, this 12th-floor bar at the Mondrian hotel in Southbank speaks for itself. With its plush sofas and light airy atrium vibe, it offers a stunning view across Blackfriars Bridge of St Paul’s and the London skyline. While it has a balcony, there are not many seats in the house that you can’t enjoy the view from. When you’re done do yourself a favour and go downstairs to have dinner in the Italian inspired restaurant Sea Containers.
It may not be sky high but the outdoor deck here gives one of the more unrivalled views of Tower Bridge.
If you like your steak as much as I do, a table on the second floor next to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows lets you gaze at Tower Bridge – particularly special when lit up at night. A pinch yourself experience it combines three of my favourite things, red wine, steak and one of the better views in the world.
Have you been to any of these venues? What’s the best view you’ve come across in London or another city? Share it with your fellow travellers in the comments below.