What Sets London's Rooftop Bars Apart

Published: April 16, 2019
London Rooftops

When one is considering rooftop bars in Europe, the city of London simply can’t be overlooked. It’s home to some of the best rooftop bars on the continent, not to mention a fairly broad selection in general.

Whether you’re looking for a great view, a high-class lounge that just happens to be outdoors, or a place buzzing with energy, you’ll have your pick of multiple rooftop options in London. Beyond the large, high-quality selection though, what exactly is it that sets the London rooftop bars apart from others?

That question could be answered differently for any given bar or any given neighborhood. However, there are some suitable overarching answers as well.

One would be that the scene from any London rooftop is a striking one. It’s subjective to say so, to some degree, but this is one of the prettiest cities in the world, and one that isn’t simply a mass of towering skyscrapers so much as a fascinating tangle of old and new buildings alike. Granted, the skyline is going to change in the coming years, and by some estimations London is going to start to resemble a more traditional modern metropolis, at least in certain areas.

For now though, a rooftop bar in this particular capital gives you views and an atmosphere that are quite different from what you get in most big cities. Plus, what you see is different at each particular bar (whereas in some cities every view looks like a version of the same thing).

The staggering variety of rooftop bars, alluded to previously, is also something that truly sets London apart. Some of the options feel like elegant restaurant patios, quiet and classy; some are more like clubs or lounges hanging out over the city; some bars are full-fledged decks complete with cushioned couches and space heaters; others are more enclosed and insulated. Add to this variety of style some of the points already made, about different atmospheres and different views, and this is altogether a legitimate selling point for the city.

Another factor to consider is London’s football culture, which is greater than that of all but perhaps one or two cities in all of Europe, and which naturally affects bar atmospheres. While the city is best known in this regard for its several major professional stadiums and the chances they afford visitors to see live football, most locals engage with the sport remotely. People sport their clubs’ kits and watch matches in public.

Many opt to attach themselves directly to matches by betting on outcomes, particularly these days with sites boasting free bets and simple introductory options that make it easier than ever to wager. And as to where these football supporters go while wearing kits, cheering on clubs, and tracking their bets, the answer is often public bars - rooftop options included. Skylight in particular is known for having matches on big-screen TVs even in its outdoor space.

Last but not least, there is also an abundance of green space to be enjoyed at London’s rooftop bars, which is not necessarily true of your average establishment like this in any given city. In some cases there are turf-like areas that more or less simulate the outdoors; in others, patios are arranged almost like little gardens; and in a few cases, such as with Netil 360, John Lewis Roof Garden, and Coq d’Argent, a bar can essentially feel like a full-fledged city park.

These aren’t completely unique in the world, but you won’t find such a strong concentration of green rooftop bars in many other places - if anywhere.