In its characteristically self-defeating manner, summer is slowly, timidly coming along as temperatures are beginning to rise… and then drop again suddenly… and then rise again but with strong winds… and drop again with clear blue skies… and so on and so forth.
Regardless, tiny details like the weather have never got in the way of us enjoying summer. So here are some of the best spots in London to enjoy the sun. Or rain.
SOHO SKY TERRACE
If you feel like you need to be as close to the sun as you physically can, a rooftop bar is your answer. Soho Sky Terrace sits atop the Courthouse Hotel on Great Marlborough Street. Take the lift to the 5th floor to enjoy some cocktails in the sun (or the shade). And if you’re feeling peckish, why not treat yourself and make a reservation for their 3-course BBQ brunch, available from 12.00-15.00 on weekends till the end of August. Finally, you might notice that the tables at Soho Sky Terrace have built-in ice buckets. That’s pretty cool. See what we did there?
Courthouse Hotel, 19-21 Great Marlborough Street, W1
Central Oxford Circus
Art-deco haven Eltham Palace features more than just stunning architecture and décor. Outside, there are 19 acres of beautiful garden to enjoy. On two levels, the grounds juxtapose medieval and modern features, with London’s oldest working bridge alongside a newly built greeenhouse cafe.
On a sunny day, a stroll in the rose garden or along the moat could be a perfect opportunity to spend an afternoon a little differently. And once you’re done outside, you’ve got the whole house to explore.
Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, SE9 5QE
BONNINGTON SQUARE GARDEN
Created in homage to the nearby Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens that entertained London for three centuries before meeting their demise, this space was designed by several local residents and an architectural firm in the 90s. The result of their hard work is the perfect location to spend your lunch hour or just to relax on a nice day. The garden features luxuriating greenery as well as a piece of industrial revolution-era artwork in the form of a huge wheel from a marble factory. Maintained by Bonnington Square residents, this space is open all day through to evening when it is illuminated by fairy lights and uplighters, but is closed at night time.
44A Bonnington Square, SW8 1TQ
On top of Bold Tendencies (Peckham’s disused carpark-cum-creative space), this annual pop-up cafe has become a fixture on Peckham’s summer calendar. On your way up to the 10th floor of the multi-storey carpark, look out for the newly painted lift and stairwells in shocking pink. Who knew Barbie had a decorating business?
With a no-reservations policy, Frank’s can pretty busy at peak times as creatives jostle for a quick meal or cocktail in the sunshine. Try the Negroni which has become something of a signature cocktail for the place. Plus when there’s a queue at the bar, you don’t really want to be ordering complicated cocktails, do you?
95A Rye Lane, Peckham, SE15 4ST
Rail Peckham Rye
THE ROOF GARDENS
You may have noticed that fancy gardens and rooftop bars have dominated this list so far. Well just like Hannah Montana, The Roof Gardens brings together the best of both worlds. A little slice of luxury, this 6,000sqm rooftop features 3 distinct styles of garden – Spanish, Tudor, and English Woodland – as well as an assortment of wildlife, including flamingos. Yes. Flamingos.
Relax with some drinks, stay for a meal, or just lounge in a deckchair taking in the sheer impossibility of an actual garden on the 6th floor of a building in Kensington. While free to visit, it is recommended that you call ahead to check if they’re open as the gardens are often booked for private events such as weddings. Trust us, you don’t want to be that guy who stumbles into a stranger’s wedding holding a cocktail and a flamingo.
99 Kensington High Street, Kensington, W8 5SA
District High Street Kensington
For more sunshine locations, take a look at our guide to London’s best rooftop bars here.