Rumpus Room

Rumpus Room Mondrian LondonThe battle for “bar with the greatest view of London” is a hard-fought one and Rumpus Room is the most recent contender. Facing the river from the top of Mondrian London at Sea Containers, a drink there will definitely give you that Londoner pride feeling – and not least so because the bar’s part of Mr Lyan’s portfolio.

The space really is the star player here. Visit at night, when the room is dark and lit by dandelion-like pendant lamps, the backbar and the city’s windows and streetlights. The deep red sofas are super comfortable, but if the weather’s right, nip out on the terrace to really take in the view.

Drinks wise, the menu’s split between ten classics and ten Rumpus serves – don’t expect the same as downstairs in Dandelyan. Here the drinks are a bit more approachable; twists on well-known names mostly. We liked the fresh and easy-drinking Pineapple Dark’n’Stormy, and the note of hops in the cistrusy Lemon Balm Margarita. There are also a few bites available – if you’ve managed to avoid London’s lobster frenzy, now is really time to give a lobster roll a try.

Best Bars tip: Rumpus Room is often closed for private events, so check before visiting.

–Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest

Rumpus Room Mondrian London

Belgrave Music Hall

Belgrave Music hall LeedsLeeds’ north quarter channels east London vibes with this trendy, bustling venue. Across Belgrave Music Hall’s three floors you’ll find food, live music, an art market, film screenings, a token french bulldog or two (of course) and the city’s most impressive roof terrace.

Serving a wide selection of cask ales, premium lagers and craft brews (including the venue’s own craft beer made with Northern Monk Brew Company), this is the ideal drinking spot for beer lovers. If you’re not into hops you can choose from straight up mixers, no-fuss slushy cocktails, a short wine list or get a caffeine fix with fresh coffee courtesy of Laynes Espresso. Canteen-style street food is served up by Dough Boys, the in-house “pizza pilgrims” who deliver a constantly changing menu of locally sourced products and vegan and gluten-free options. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love Belgrave Feast which takes over the venue every second Saturday of the month to showcase independent food vendors from all around the country.

It’s easy to see Belgrave Music Hall as one of the most exciting spaces on the Leeds scene. Its east London-inspired décor with industrial touches and minimalist bold designs make the perfect backdrop for the eclectic roster of music, arts and film performances. The large roof terrace itself is enough to draw a crowd, decked out with fake grass, quirky heated huts, deck chairs and its own mini bar. Whether you’re up for food, booze or art, this is the ultimate year-round hangout for any culture vultures, foodies and beer enthusiasts.

Best Bars tip: Love dough? Pizza slices are half price until 7pm, Sunday – Thursday and 5pm Friday and Saturday.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

Belgrave Music Hall Leeds beer garden

London’s 9 Best Winter Pop-Ups: Snow Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

Archer Street Soho Piste pop up

1. Piste at Archer Street

If you haven’t booked a ski holiday, no problem. Get that glorious après-ski experience at Archer Street’s pop-up Piste. It’ll feel like you’ve hopped right off the ski lift and into a wood-fired lodge fully kitted out with fur blankets and boozy cocktails. For a festive drink, try the Glow Plough with Grey Goose vodka, mulled port syrup, lime, cranberry, egg white and a floating glow stick (oooh shiny!).
Mon-Thurs: 4pm-1am; Fri-Sat: 2pm-1am.
3-4 Archer Street, W1D 7AP.York and Albany Winter Cabin pop up
2. The Winter Cabin at York & Albany

Just on the edge of Regent’s Park, this is one cosy and indulgent cabin — think tartans, animal skins and taxidermy. The drinks menu features a buttered rum hot chocolate (with MARSHMALLOWS) as well as spiced Bloody Marys. It’s all boozy, festive and delicious. Since this is a Gordon Ramsay affair, you can expect the food to be spot on as well. From wild boar sausages to black pudding scotch eggs, it’ll feel like Christmas with every bite. Now this charming little spot is for exclusive hire only, so round up 4-12 of your mates and nestle in for a couple of hours.
Daily: 1pm-10pm (excluding Christmas Day). 2 cocktails and paired snacks — £30 per person. 3 cocktails and paired snacks — £40 per person.
127-129 Parkway, NW1 7PS.

Winter Wonderland performer

3. Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park

This is other level Christmas celebrating. And if you haven’t heard of it or been to it before, then make this year the time. A huge festive wonderland (yes, wonderland) in the middle of Hyde Park with atmospheric markets, loads of rides for children small and not-so-small, as well hearty food and plenty of warming booze. Get extra organised and book yourself in to one of the shows like Cirque Berserk (see above) for just an extra splash of wow factor.
21 November – 4 January 2015. Mon – Sun:  10am – 10pm.
Hyde Park, W2 2UH.

Winterville Victoria Park market4. Winterville in Victoria Park

East London is getting its own winter wonderland with Winterville taking over the utterly tranquil Victoria Park. This place has everything: an ice rink, ferris wheel, fairground, roller disco, undercover bars, street food, cabaret, panto, horse-drawn carriages and a kids quarter. There’s even a “Wall of Death“, and no — you don’t have to climb it. Rather, it’s a gravity-defying motordome. Daredevil riders will do their best to accomplish some hair-raising stunts for your viewing pleasure. And to get access to all of this? Well, entry is FREE. So you have no excuse NOT to go.
Free entry. 2 December – 1 January (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day). 10am-late.
Victoria Park, Grove Road, E3 5TB.

Sweder Christmas pop up5. Swedish Christmas by Skandilicious
From food served the Smörgåsbord way to the Scandi-style decor, this pop-up will immerse you in Swedish Christmas warmth from the moment you walk through the door. Get your eat on the Scandi way with gravlax and smoked salmon, mustard crumbed roast ham, Swedish meatballs and more types of herring than you ever knew existed. Once you’re finished eating, head up to the loft bar to sip on seasonal cocktails. Christmas just got a little bit “sweder”.
Tickets are £45. 14 November – 21 December. Lunch: 12pm-4pm. Dinner and drinks: Sun-Wed — 6pm-12am; Thurs-Sat — 6pm-1am.
The Old Guardian Media House Theatre Delicatessen, 119 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3DA.

Floridita Ski Chalet6. Winter Rum Chalet at Floridita

Inspired by the ski slopes of Patagonia, Floridita is launching its own take on the chalet theme (*hint: it involves A LOT of rum*). Think log-papered walls, a ski-chair seat for two and a mock fireplace for (mentally) warming the cockles.
From 19 November. Tues-Thurs: 5:30pm-late. Fri-Sat: 5:30pm-3am.
Floridita, 100 Wardour Street, W1F 0TN. 

Coq d'argent spiced almond cocktail7. Lodge d’Argent at Coq d’Argent 

Experience a taste of France at this ski chalet-cum-winter terrace. Guide your eyes past the vintage ski gear and go wrap yourself into the heavenly furry blankets. The heated and covered terrace will be on throughout winter — fully equipped with holiday favourites like fondue and even a Croque d’Argent station for cheesy, toastie goodness. And for those skipping the lactose, nab the Spiced Almond hot cocktail with spiced almond milk (obviously) and Anejo rum.
18 November – 28 February. Mon-Fri: 11:30am-11pm; Sat: 12pm-11pm; Sun: 12pm-5pm.
Coq d’Argent. No. 1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ. 

Skylounge Viking Bar Pop Up8. Winter Viking Bar (Valhalla Vodka Bar) at Skylounge

One of London’s best rooftop bars has been taken over by Vikings … yes, Vikings. But it seems these ones are pretty friendly and welcoming, so you can expect weatherproof roofing, heaters, animals skins and views of the fjords. Plus lots of Scandi-style food and wintery vodka cocktails. Try to pronounce this one: Glapsvidr. Can’t? Neither can we. But with Aperol, passionfruit and apple — it’ll taste better than it sounds. And since the Vikings were of the hunter-gatherer tribe, the eats will be hearty, wholesome and meat-heavy.
25 November – February. Wed-Sun: 4:30pm-late.
7 Pepys Street, EC3N 4AF.

Alexander and James presents Christmas with the ivy9. Alexander & James Presents Christmas with The Ivy

This isn’t a pop-up per se, but it does pop the bar up right in your very own home. And since they’re partnering with The Ivy for Christmas, you get to have world-renowned eats AND world-renowned drinks without stepping a foot outside of your door. You will be treated to a three-course dinner created by The Ivy’s executive chef, Gary Lee, which will be paired with a selection of cocktails created by Alexander & James resident mixologist, Kenji Jesse. From fish dishes with floral gin sippers to meaty roasts with rich bourbon concoctions, you’ll be throwing an out-of-this-world dinner party without lifting a finger. This ain’t cheap, but if you are looking for a luxury option … then you’ve found it.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

The Grafton

The Grafton Kentish TownIt’s not hard to see why The Grafton was crowned Great British Pub of the Year 2014. This traditional cornerstone boozer in the heart of Kentish Town, offers a great drinks selection, a wide range of real ales, tasty meals and an impressive array of eclectic in-house events – all set in a stunning Victorian restoration complete with quirky modern features and a weather-proof roof terrace.

The downstairs bar offers no set drinks menu but check the chalkboards to scope out a rotating list of award-winning hand pumped ales, local craft beers, ciders, premium spirits and world wines. Tucked away upstairs, you’ll find a more modern bar with an adjacent rooftop terrace. With a bespoke selection of wines and the pub’s very own light prosecco, all on tap to satisfy demands for a constant flow of vino and moreish spritzers. Bar bites are available with food pop-ups such as Texas Joe’s BBQ, which is taking over Grafton’s kitchen until January 2015 with delectable meaty sharing platters.

The upstairs area also hosts Friday DJ nights, monthly Swapaholics clothes exchanges, acoustic music nights and many other fun shindigs. In fact, one look at the events listings and you’ll find there’s an occasion for everyone – from the Tuesday pub quiz (only £1 to enter) to Bring Your Own Vinyl nights, Sing-A-Long Sundays and even the all-welcoming Reggae Choir.

Best Bars tip: Having a bit of a get together? Get cosy in the Grafton’s “Boardroom”. Now available to hire, this upstairs space seats 10-14 or 20 standing and is perfect for private dining, meetings, film screenings, parties and you can even connect your own keg in the corner for all-night top ups.

— Mieke-Kyra Smith, @mieke_chu

The Grafton Kentish Town roof terrace

London’s 8 Best Bars with a View

Guy Fawkes Fireworks over Palace of WestminsterNew Year’s Eve in London is a beautiful (but sometimes stressful) affair, so we’ve tried to make it a little easier for you by picking some of the BEST bars for fireworks spotting as the clock strikes 12. Be warned though: these places are throwing their own parties, so be sure to book your tickets or table in advance.

Duck & Waffle bar 20131. Duck & Waffle
Worth a visit just for a ride in the lift, this 40th floor haunt is surrounded by windows giving you a pretty good look over London’s skyline. And with bang-on food, kooky cocktails (that also taste great), as well as a 24-hour license — there’s nothing stopping you from swinging by.

Galvin at Windows bar london2. Galvin at Windows
Ever had a panoramic experience of London? Perched up on the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton, this is one of the ultimate spots to slink into a soft sofa and overlook the city’s glittering skyline.

OXO Tower London Southbank afternoon tea3. OXO Tower
South Bank’s iconic OXO Towers offers cocktails to suit the stunning Thames-side views. So nab yourself one of their originals, like the After Hours Cosmo, and toast your drinking buddies while you take in the fireworks in style.

City Social London4. City Social
Socialising is darker, sexier and a whole lot higher here. Sitting pretty on the 24th floor of Tower 42, Jason Atherton’s skryise outpost is more art deco than the rest. You’ll feel like you’re in 1980s New York City — fireworks here we go!

radio rooftop bar terrace5. Radio Rooftop Bar and Restaurant
The wraparound terrace on the 10th floor of the ME Hotel is panoramic penthouse perfection. Order yourself some fancy shmancy cocktails while you take in some of London’s greatest views — could be worse, right?

shanghai bar the shard6. Shanghai Bar at The Shard
The Shard’s 33rd floor is given over to Northern Chinese restaurant Hutong, which has its own bird’s nest of a bar. At Shanghai Bar, drinks take abstract inspiration from ancient Chinese medicinal practices.

Skylounge Viking Bar Pop Up7. Winter Viking Bar (Valhalla Vodka Bar) at Skylounge
With fireworks setting off in the city, rooftop space is prime real estate — and Skylounge has a good swathe of it. With two long terraces jutting out like parallel catwalks, their two rooftop bars will be perfect for catching a glimpse of the sparkling night sky (just shimmy next to a heater). Plus it’s Viking themed … yes, Viking.

The Boundary rooftop 28. The Boundary Rooftop Bar
Set on a lower floor than some of the others on this list, you’re in with a chance for fireworks spotting as east London buildings still sit a bit lower than the City’s.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

The 7 Best Bars for Winter Alfresco Sipping

Just because “winter is coming”, doesn’t mean Londoners are ready to call it quits on sipping outside. It just means we have to get a bit more creative in how we do alfresco. And turns out, we do it very well.

The Boundary Rooftop pegoda1. The Boundary Rooftop Bar

An alfresco leafy haven in the heart of Shoreditch with some of the comfiest seats in town. And since there is an atmospheric, weatherproofed pergola — come rain or shine, you can still sit up on the roof and overlook east London’s skyline.

 

Wigwambam woodlandia queen of hoxton2. Wigwambam at the Queen of Hoxton

This toasty little pop-up bar is an east London treasure in the colder months, situated atop the Queen of Hoxton. Can’t find it? Look up and you’ll spot this rooftop teepee from around the block. It’s wonderful, unusual, and most importantly, it’s a welcome respite from the winter chill.

B and H Buildings greenhouse

3. B & H Buildings

For a pseudo-alfresco experience, head in and straight back to the greenhouse room. With a glass ceiling, floral prints and lots of foliage … you’ll feel like you’re right out in the countryside — no matter the weather.

Le Chalet at Selfridges4. Le Chalet at Selfridges

Can’t afford a ski holiday? Not a problem. Selfridges has its own candlelit alpine chalet right in the heart of London, where you can nip in for some après-shop nosh and drinks. From rotisserie meats to mulled wine, this place has the winter classics covered.

The Glasshouse at Carom Soho

5. Carom Soho

When London chucks down its less than desirable weather (as it so often does), instead of feeling miserable – get yourself down here. With a sunny glass-covered terrace, you can kick back in a swinging chair and laugh off the rain while throwing back a few drinks. Plus the south Indian fare is flavourful, filling, well executed and well priced.

6. Forza Win(ter)

Because winter dining outside can be fun. Expect communal tables, winter warmers, live music and seriously indulgent fonduta. Think fondue, but Italian — with heaps of meat and veg to dip into it. For a glimpse of last year’s event, check out the video above. Warning: it will make you hungry AND happy.
Thurs-Sat, 30 Oct — 20 December. Tickets are £30 and include a hot aperitivo.

Vivo Islington roof terrace7. Vivo Winter Rooftop

Vivo was racking up punters during London’s lengthy summer season, but just in time for the winter weather — the bar will be transformed into a fully-heated, marquee sheltering during the colder months. Perfect for work parties or afternoon catch-ups, you can feast down on hearty Italian food outside in the height of winter.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

The Boundary Rooftop Bar

The Boundary Rooftop

The Boundary Rooftop Bar, an alfresco leafy haven in the heart of Shoreditch with some of the comfiest chairs in town. On sunny days, you’ll be lucky to nab one of these most enviable seats … however you can book a table for lunch (keep that in mind).

Drinks err on the summery side — appropriately — so don’t be afraid to order whatever twist on a spritz the staff have concocted. If it’s a non-alcoholic tipple you’re after, the iced tea is divine — not too sweet, not too bitter. Nip in for a light breakfast or a long lunch, so whether you’re in the mood for nibbles or hearty fare … The Boundary covers all bases. Think quinoa croquettes all the way to rib-eye steak.

With the atmospheric, weatherproofed pergola — come rain or shine, you can still sit up on the roof and overlook east London’s skyline.

Best Bars tip: On Sunday evenings from 8pm, you get 50% off shellfish. What will we be having? Lobster please.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

The Boundary rooftop 2