What is London famous for? A trivial question, I know. And a heavy one with that. No sane person would answer it quickly with a couple of words, as the capital is known and loved for so many of its attractions, customs, history… But what is sure is that at some point people would start to list the things they have most often seen on cards and wallpapers: The Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, London Eye and countless more. And yes, I agree that taking a photo with one of those would be a very nice brag for your facebook profile. But I also think that you would be missing something – London Eye may be the typical card sent from London, but it is most surely not the essence, the life of London, the true London! If you are coming here with the desire to dive into the real London experience and do as Londonners do – you can even skip the London Eye and head straight to the exquisite bars and restaurants of the capital!
One such popular type of venues are the famous sky bars and restaurants which are truly the biggest attraction in summer!
Aqua Shard is a sky bar just next to London Bridge, on the 31st floor of the world famous Shard. It has two parts – a fine dining restaurant and a classy bar. As much as I admire the quality of the food served at the restaurant, I would rather talk about the bar – not only because it stays open until later. It is the part offering those magnificent views over the heart of Britain and in combination with that – you get the chance to enjoy them with a well-crafted drink in your hand! Just don’t enjoy it with too many drinks in your hand, because you might get a bit too dizzy from the heights…
Another sky bar that offers you a view from The Shard is Oblix. Situated on the 32nd floor, almost halfway up of the giant building and usually referred to only as a bar, Oblix is more than that. In fact, I might even say that you hear its name more often in the context of 5-star food serving than in that of rooftop views. Which definitely doesn’t mean that the view is not worth it! It just means that if you are hesitating between a delicious dinner and a breath-taking picture before your eyes for tonight’s adventure in London – Oblix is here to set you at ease and provide you both!
And just another floor above Oblix there is a replica of the famous Hong Kong restaurant Hutong. The décor of that place is as close as it can be to the real deal – you step out of the elevator and you enter China. And for lovers of Chinese food – this is an authentic and well-equipped restaurant that strives to offer the finest dishes of the culture – traditional, contemporary or even mixed with Indian or European flavors. And all that goes with the reminder of where you actually are – a wide and bright view over London!
Now we are going up. A lot. All the way up to the 52nd floor of The Shard! You should be warned – Gong does charge the respective prices for being so high in the ‘rank’. Even though it offers beautiful drinks which go perfectly in the photo you’re going to take of the view, it could get a bit pricey there. But if are looking for a bar, as high as possible to have the experience of peeking out of the enormous Shard – Gong is the place for you!
And now 3 floors higher – I don’t know about you, but my blood pressure is seriously dropping, this sky bar/restaurant is only for the bravest of us! I’m talking about Ting – a restaurant with charming warm romantic décor that welcomes couples, families, friends and everyone who wishes to have a cozy dinner while glancing hundreds of meters down to the streets of London. Each table is situated near a French window making you feel as if you are just hanging in the skies above London while you are steadily grounded on a comfortable chair and protected from the rains and winds of England’s weather. And if that is not enough to allure you to Ting, you might also want to keep in mind that its prices, especially for a fine restaurant in the upper part of the Shard, are very very reasonable.
But you see what the problem is with all these sky bars and restaurants I’ve listed? There aren’t many problems, but still I can think of one – there is something missing in your view; The Shard is missing.
Fortunately, London offers dozens of more rooftop venues. One such is Sky Garden. And Garden is the perfect name! It is wide, green and impressive – the first time you go there you might not believe you are still in the present! To begin with, Sky Gardens make a kind reverence to all of London’s visitors and residents – the entrance to this unbelievable venue is completely free! It’s better to book it beforehand but the fact that you can get in for free as opposed to The Shard’s charges is very very alluring. And the place is just huge. You can go around and keep wow-ing at everything you are able to see, spend hours in front of the large glass walls gazing over London or you can decide to grab a bite, have lunch, organize a business meeting, drink a cocktail or dine with your spouse. Four venues are available to you – the Frenchurch Restaurant, the Darwin Brasserie, the City Garden Bar and the Sky Pod Bar. You can easily sped a whole day at Sky Gardens doing various things and not getting dull even for a minute!
Another one of London’s most popular sky bars is Radio Rooftop Bar at ME London. This place is not just famous because it’s a rooftop bar. It’s modern, it’s futuristic, it’s constantly updated and you can say that it’s half the reason why travelers choose to stay at ME London! With its new wave décor and the latest trends in the menu, it would be a perfect place for cocktail drinking even without the view. And keeping in mind that it’s famous for its award-winning drinks, the prices there are pretty affordable!
And the last sky bar I will mention here, although it’s hard to pick just one out of the many, is Vista bar. You may have heard of it – the always changing bar overlooking Trafalgar Square. One year it could be a romantic vintage little bar, the next it could be the manifest of what we call cosmopolitan and in two years it might look as a futuristic state of art, who knows! This is because each summer Vista Bar changes its décor inspired by the summer sponsor alcohol brand. So Vista is like the famous saying ‘You can never step into the same river twice’… And all those selfies you’ve seen of London’s visitors sitting on a terrace bar and trying to catch all the Trafalgar Square – well, this is Vista.
Did I manage to convince you that it is worth skipping your visit to London Eye and watching it from the ground to go to one of these emblematic for London venues instead and look at it from above? If not, you can still do the traditional sight-seeing, but please, if you want to say that you have been to London with clear conscious – don’t miss the exhilarating sky bars!