Head In The Clouds: London’s Roof Garden Dream Experiences


It’s been said that the ultimate solution to London’s well reported housing shortages is to build upwards – that is, to rely on flats and apartments in vertically friendly buildings. And, as if taking a cue from this train of thought, one of the capital’s latest spring/ summer-attuned going-out trends is to pass the time (and drink a tipple or two) in one of its stylish, modern roof gardens. Offering splendid views and a sense of luxury, their principal appeal speaks for itself; so let’s take a look at some examples…

7 More London Riverside

(SE1 2RT)

There’s much to recommend the London Bridge area (a thriving nightlife full of great bars and pubs and, of course, Borough Market) and now there’s something else – a high-quality rooftop garden that sits on top of the impressive glass edifice of a building that’s the London home of PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). What’s so impressive about it? Well, it’s actually one of the city’s most sustainable examples of architecture, being a 13,000m2 space that genuinely supports both protected and threatened species of flora and fauna – everything from birds, bees and butterflies to all manner of beautiful plant-life.

Sky Garden

(20 Fenchurch Street EC3M 3BY)

The so-nicknamed ‘Walkie Talkie’, a gigantic and rather cartoonish addition to The City’s skyline, has had its critics since it opened three years ago – due to its weird shape and plethora of glass, on very hot days it’ll actually dry an egg if you stand in the right place nearby, and on windy days it seems to create its own massive gusty micro-climate – yet, no question, its ‘Sky Garden’ at the very top has become a hip venue. Enclosed by giant windows, it houses more than a hundred species of plants (including herbs apparently used in the three restaurants of the building) and it’s quite a spectacular environment in which to find yourself as you enjoy a cool tipple and look out on the magnificent view of the whole of London below – night or day; summer or winter. Not bad, eh?

The Roof Gardens

(99 Kensington High Street W8 5SA)

We might as well start as we mean to go on – with the plushest, most exclusive and, frankly, most impressive of all of London’s roof terrace refuges. Offering 1.5 acres of incredibly elegant and über-stylish gardens looking down on swish Kensington High Street below, to get into this establishment is something of an achievement in itself as it’s usually ‘members only’ – that said, it is open to non-members on occasion. Be warned, though, to enjoy the intimate live gigs and DJ sets (funk, house and disco), you’ll have to abide by the dress-code – ‘no effort, no entry’ – so don’t go casual. With its Mediterranean-style architecture and décor, one might argue the whole thing’s a chill-out zone, but it offers something of a chill-out room too, just in case you’re not reposed enough on your visit. Should you be staying at all nearby (maybe at the Park Grand Paddington Court London hotel?) and have just enjoyed a slap-up meal at one of the restaurants near Paddington Station, then this has to be the perfect place to go on to relax with a cocktail – in real style – and then, of course, hit the dancefloor like you really mean it.

Merrill Lynch Financial Centre

(2 King Edward Street EC1A 1HQ)

Again, located in The City, this one may not rival the previous effort for style and salubriousness, but the view is hard to beat. Looking out directly on St. Paul’s Cathedral as it does, this is surely one of the most blessed spots to enjoy a drink come a warm, sunny evening or even a dark but balmy summer’s night. Established as early as 2001, it was one of the first rooftop gardens of today’s London and was originally intended for the workers of Merril Lynch bank, on the roof of whose London HQ it sits.

Cannon Bridge Roof Gardens

(25 Dowgate Hill EC4R 3SB)

You can also espy St. Paul’s from this elevated terrace – but much more besides, as it was specifically designed to afford visitors a wraparound panorama all the way from the great Restoration-era cathedral via Tower Bridge to the South Bank which stands across the Thames directly opposite. Boasting a whole acre of land filled with a lawn, trees and shrubs, it actually feels more like a park than a garden; all of which means you’ll feel rather spoilt and something of a VIP should you be lucky enough to set foot in here.