Sun Traps: 9 of the UK’s best rooftop bars

Rooftop bars are right next to ‘barbeques’, ‘street parties’, and ‘the flaunting of not-quite-beach-ready bodies’ on the list of quintessential British summer pastimes. And, look out, Britain – we’re in for a warm one. Here are nine rooftops that are perfect for soaking up the sun.

The Varsity Club, Oxford

As the name wouldn’t suggest, this 360-degree view rooftop bar isn’t actually exclusive to students (though they tend to come out of the woodwork as the night draws in). The great view is made even better by the fact the bar’s open whatever the weather – when the colder evenings are in, the blankets and burners come out.

Bussey Rooftop Bar, London

Never mind just Peckham; Bussey’s rooftop is south London’s place-to-be when the sun has got his hat on. Beers, cocktails, and food on behalf of an ex-Hawksmoor chef are the icing on the cake. Or, should that be, the bar on the roof?

Radio, London

Just turning the dial slightly more towards the glitz-and-glam end of the spectrum, we have Radio – expect more French Martinis and fewer craft beers, but the views are just as good, and the sun just as, well, sunny. Find Radio just off the Strand, with views of Somerset House, The Shard, Big Ben, and then some.

Fourth Floor Restaurant, Edinburgh

It’s Bella Bellinis all round at Harvey Nic’s Edinburgh bar and restaurant. And views are fab ­– on a clear day on the terrace, you’ll find yourself squinting into the distance and saying, goodness, is that Fife I see over there? (Yes it is). On the food front, expect locally sourced meat and seafood, as well as an excellent afternoon tea.

Rooftop Gardens, Norwich

Short of shinning up the cathedral’s spire, Norwich’s first rooftop bar offers the best views in the city. With little shade on offer, the space is something of a sun trap, so best pack your factor 50. The menu offers something for everyone, from steaks and salads to sharing platters ideal for lazy grazing.

Sky Lounge, Leeds

Nothing quite says ‘reclining with a Raspberry Mule while clinking glasses with the gods’ as much as Sky Lounge ­– the name certainly has that kind of a ring to it. Though they can’t guarantee an appearance from Dionysus (a deity who, as we all know, certainly likes to party), it’s just the place to throw some shapes ‘til way past your bed time (2am).

King Street Townhouse, Manchester

Maybe the best vantage point in Manchester, you say? With views of the Victorian neo-gothic Town Hall and beyond, you say? And an infinity pool? Crikey. Throw in a barman and you have yourself the makings of a jolly good time. Start your night with a cocktail or two and then head downstairs for dinner in the King Street Tavern.

Bohemia, Brighton

Bohemia’s rooftop has been given a Veuve Clicquot Champagne makeover for the summer – as you’ll be able to tell from the giant branded umbrellas. If it gets too hot, you can dine indoors – the restaurant serves classics like seared scallops, fillet steak, and fish and chips.

Hall & Woodhouse, Bath

Bath: not one of the best-equipped destinations for drinking or eating out (boo!). It is, however, one of, if not the, prettiest cities in the UK (yay!). And Hall & Woodhouse’s rooftop is one of the best views from which to drink it all in.

Where’s your favourite rooftop dining destination? Let us know in the comments.

This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.