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Our little black book of enchanting places


Rooftop bars to chill out on by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in FOOD + DRINK By Maggie O' Sullivan

The UK might not be known for its rooftop terrace bars, but we’re getting there. London now has a great selection – from the hip Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch to the urban Frank’s in Peckham – and every year a few more open around the country. Here are six of our current favourites, all chosen for their mellow, laid-back vibe rather than their party atmosphere – we’ll leave the Queen of Hoxton and Franks for another day.

Great John Street, Manchester

Great John Street is a Victorian schoolhouse in the centre of Manchester, transformed into a hip townhouse hotel by Eclectic Hotels.The cool Rooftop Lounge and Playground is principally for hotel guests, but non-residents have access to a section of it and on a warm evening, it can get quite lively. Spend a few hours on the terrace then head down to the vintage-chic Oyster Bar on the ground floor for a nightcap.Ham Yard Hotel, London WC1

We’re huge fans of Firmdale Hotels at Travelwrap Towers and we can think of few better places to be on a warm summer’s evening than on the roof of Ham Yard. Four storeys up, it’s hardly London’s highest terrace but with its fragrant, Provencal-style garden, Moroccan lanterns twitching in the breeze, and stylish upholstered seating, it’s easily the most chic. Later this summer Ham Yard plans to serve cocktails made from honey from its two rooftop beehives. Count us in.The Varsity Hotel & Spa, Cambridge

Unless they’re very high, city roof terraces don’t always have the best views, but from this chic eyrie above the River Cam you can pick out most of the colleges without even putting down your Pimm’s. There’s a barbecue in the evenings (lunchtimes too at weekends) and The Varsity will supply blankets if the temperature drops. ME London, WC2 

On the 10th floor of ME London, Radio Bar is London’s – possibly the planet's – coolest rooftop terrace bar. Unfortunately, it's quite difficult to get into. You can avoid disappointment by making a reservation but that will set you back £100 per person minimum spend in high season. Our advice is to go early, preferably on a Monday night, and if you’re lucky you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views across the capital, delicious cocktails and an Ibiza-style vibe. The Marker, Dublin

The Marker is a sleek, contemporary hotel in Dublin Docklands with a roof terrace to match. It’s one of the city’s most romantic spots on a starry night, though it would be a shame to miss those gorgeous views across the city to the mountains and sea. Best plan is to arrive while its still light, settle in with a selection of cocktails (Gin Corpse, anyone?) and taste plates, and linger on until its time for bed. 

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