Everything’s up in the air, so let’s get high, says Phoebe Luckhurst. Here she seeks out the best of the city’s rooftop bars and entertainment
There’s something exhilarating about getting smashed high in the sky. Perhaps it’s the altitude; perhaps it’s the elevation above wandering hoi polloi, spilling like ants out of pedestrian, ground-level pubs. Most likely it’s just the novelty — you spend two-thirds of the year squeezing into humid bars where walls seep with condensation, while outside, confusingly, the elements charge persistently at the door. But for now it’s rooftop season, and London’s getting high.
Skylounge (7 Pepys Street, EC3) has just opened Cuervo’s Cantina, a Mexican-themed summer residency. You can score tequila cocktails by the jugful for £20 and soak up the spirits with spicy burritos, fajitas and nachos. The view takes in The Shard and The Gherkin, but if you squint (or drink) hard enough you could be on spring break in Tijuana.
The roof at Queen of Hoxton (1-5 Curtain Road, EC2, queenofhoxton.com) has had a quick change and just re-emerged, like a phoenix from the ashes of the large smoking area, in its rooftop summer club incarnation. This year there’s a rainbow staircase, the usual greenery, and beach-striped deckchairs. Thrill-seekers should load up on slushies and hot dogs and then play on the “Whirl-oscope” — it’s an installation-cum-carousel created by design collective Gang of Six. It has swing seats and rotates to give 360-degree views of of Shoreditch.
The Vista bar at the Trafalgar Hotel (2 Spring Gardens, SW1, the trafalgar.com) affords you a panorama of central London — watch the lights of the capital sparkle while you drink something sparkling.
However, there are other things to do high in the sky (indeed, some might substitute “other” for “wiser”). John Lewis — bear with me — is celebrating its 150th birthday by opening a public roof garden at its Oxford Circus flagship. Accessible from Old Cavendish Street, and created in collaboration with award-winning horticultural designer Tony Woods, the garden is open for the whole summer. It will also host pop-up restaurants, film nights and world cup parties.
At the Southbank Centre the Queen Elizabeth Hall roof garden is now open for business again until September. The greenery has been created by the same people who designed the Eden Project: hit the gazebo, get discombobulated by the mirrored walls, or examine the exotic allotment garden. Or just grab a coffee from the pop-up on the roof.
If all that altitude is making you hungry, try Coppa — sister restaurant to Hackney pizzeria Lardo — which is opening its roof terrace for a second summer: look out for all-day parties, DJ sets, barbecues, plays and film screenings.
The Rooftop Film Club (rooftopfilmclub.com) restarts again this weekend. It takes screen space at both Queen of Hoxton and Peckham’s Bussey Building (133 Rye Lane, SE15, clfartcafe.org).
Originally Posted On The London Evening Standard