5 of London’s Best Outdoor Bars
After our spell of surprisingly good weather came to an end, and this week we all got re-familiarised with rainy days, you’d be forgiven for thinking that summer in Britain was well and truly over.
But good news – actually, it turns out that summer is just getting started! Come Sunday, temperatures are set to soar so much so that by mid next week, the blazing heat of Glastonbury weekend at the end of June will look like a mere spot of balmy weather in comparison.
What better way to celebrate this delicious taste of the tropics than by hitting up one of London’s many outdoor bars for ultimate summer vibes? Rush hour transport is just far too unbearable in this kind of heat – it only seems right to hit up one of these five stylish hot-spots for after work drinks.
Where to find it: Just off Leicester Square, it’s a two minute walk away from both Piccadilly Circus Station and Leicester Square Station, in opposite directions.
The vibe: Just as you’d expect from the glitzy location, film and theatre both play a big part in the design of the hotel. Boasting a location right in the theatrical hub of the city, the building’s Art Deco style is apparent as soon as you step into the lobby – which features monochrome tiled floors, a gold reception desk, and vintage cinema seating that’ll make you feel like you’ve just stepped into a scene from The Great Gatsby.
Head up to the 9th floor and you’ll find the hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar, with its floor-to-ceiling glass and a wrap-around balcony which both offer guests panoramic views of London’s skyline. Perfect for summer evenings, this retro hide-out is picture-perfect; from the al fresco drinking scene of the balcony, to the colourful cocktails and warm tones of the bar, the photo opportunities are endless.
We recommend: The cocktails. For that true bootleg 1920s feel, order the Rooftop Highball – a concoction of Vodka, Raspberry & Rooibos, Chambord, Lemon and Soda and a tantalisingly cheeky hint of the infamous Absinthe.
Where to find it: Right in the middle of Fulham High Street – just a short walk from Parsons Green Station.
The vibe: A true neighbourhood bar, The Courtyard is a quirky haven of fun, that come the weekend, is filled with locals keen to chill out and let off some steam.
This summer, the terrace has been decked out with all things Aperol – the beloved, orange spirit that’s firmly cemented its place as a tipple so summery and jubilant, that it’s definitely acceptable to drink at brunch. Expect a laid-back atmosphere on the terrace, which boasts atmospheric fairy lights, colourful cushions, comfy seating, table football and a dance floor.
We recommend: The Bottomless Brunch. £35. Two hours of unlimited Aperol Spritz and other brunch beverage classics. An indulgent menu featuring nachos, tacos, and dessert options such as churros and Arroz Con Leche. Need I say more?
Where to find it: Located off Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus Station is just around the corner.
The vibe: In the elegant Hotel Cafe Royal, tradition is celebrated. Inspired by the famous Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, for the United Kingdom Bartenders Guild in 1937, The Green Bar’s epic cocktail list encourages patrons to explore tastes throughout the ages – boasting iconic recipes from the past 100 years. This sophistication is matched by the decor, which is elegant, glamorous, and predictably styled with emerald furnishings.
From May to September, visitors can also experience The Green Bar Summer Terrace – in partnership with Veuve Clicquot – where champagne summer cocktails are expertly paired with a selection of light dishes and new sushi creations.
We recommend: The cheesecake. Order yourself a slice of Michelin-starred Albert Adrià’s famous cheesecake, alongside a glass of champagne, to enjoy on the terrace.
Where to find it: At its famous location on Bishopsgate Street, Liverpool Street Station is just a two-minute walk away.
The vibe: With its epic views, famous tangerine decor, and unique blend of Japanese, Peruvian and Brazilian cuisine, SUSHISAMBA is a lively blend of different cultures, styles and musical tastes. To top it all off, it’s also home to two fantastic terraces – perfect or those who like their sushi with a side of panoramic skyline.
Both terraces also benefit from the diverse selection of new summer dishes that have been recently introduced – including handmade, custom designed Odoroki sushi boxes, soft-shell crab buns, and a selection of boozy Samba Pops in Caipirinha, Sake Shiso and Passionfruit Sour flavors. The Samba Serves cocktail list has also got some summer additions, such as the refreshing Tangerine Spritz, and the fiery A-Nise Tequila Sour.
Enjoy the elegant and colourful design at the newly refurbished East Terrace, before heading to the quirky Tree Terrace – home to an iconic 26ft sculptural orange tree, lively atmosphere, and brilliant DJ’s.
We recommend: The recently launched bottle-conditioned cocktails. They are served tableside, and come in three flavours; Cherry Blossom Negroni, Pina Colada Old Fashioned, and Coffee & Chocolate Boulevardier. Delicious!
Where to find it: Located on the rooftop of Mercury House, Bar Elba is conveniently opposite Waterloo Station. Famous sister bar Tonight Josephine is in the basement.
The vibe: Right, stay with me on this one … So, when the power-drunk Napoeleon was exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba in 1814, he took 600 of his closest mates with him, and his favourite horse, Marengo. For 300 days, they sunned it up in the Med, and got up to who know’s what. The team behind Bar Elba reckon that this ‘exile’ probably turned into the ultimate party island, and so have recreated the tropical atmosphere on this rooftop-bar-turned-London-party-island in the amusingly relevant location of Waterloo.
Expect sunny colours, a tropical vibe, simple wooden benches, and block lettering detail, as well as a casual but diverse food menu of flatbreads, burgers and poke – just the kind of hearty grub you’d want on a party island. The drinks menu is equally tropical – with cocktails like Sex on the Elban Beach and Frose – a frozen, rose wine concoction – keeping everyone in the party mood.
We recommend: Happy hour. Two for one on ALL cocktails from 4-6pm Sunday to Wednesdays. Turns out all you have to do to find affordable after work drinks, is get exiled. Who knew?