Dingwalls: Camden’s iconic music venue is back
How it made its name (and briefly lost it)
VIBE: Elevating drinking and dining high above the main auditorium of Camden High Street’s world famous live music venue, where legends from Prince to Siouxsie Sioux, Noel Gallagher to Katy B have all performed. KOKO’s aim is no less than to be at the centre of the UK’s music universe, with tiered membership granting access to new areas up top, including a penthouse and recording studio, a hidden speakeasy and private dining.
VIEW: Looking down onto Camden High Street probably isn’t the best vista in town, however the people-watching, pre-gig excitement and special live performances are sure to make it one of London’s hottest rooftop hangouts. Move over Shoreditch house, (even with that swimming pool).
CAMDENIST TIP: KOKO’s rooftop also boasts a cocktail bar inside its iconic copper dome, which has been totally rebuilt after a fire ripped through it during the venue’s multi-million-pound restoration. If you can’t get up there, the smoking area above the main entrance is another great outdoor spot.
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VIBE: This long-standing party spot at the heart of Camden Market runs all kinds of music promotions, which often spill out onto its front terrace, which can be busier than the inside if the sun’s out.
VIEW: From its waterfront vantage on the Regent’s Canal, Lockside boasts some lovely views of Camden’s industrial heritage locations. These include the Lock, the thronging West Yard food market and it’s all in the shadow of the mighty red Interchange building behind the bar itself.
CAMDENIST TIP: Live music and DJs can start out on the rooftop as early as 2pm on big weekends, so get there early on if afternoon-into-evening party vibes are your thing. MENU MAP INFO
VIBE: This renowned 90’s nightclub was reborn a stone’s throw from its original King’s Cross railway arches late last year. The clientele have grown up, demanding comfy seats, cocktails and a top notch restaurant these days, but the rave certainly spirit lives on at this 6-floor pub conversion, with a dancefloor in the basement.
VIEW: Clamber up top the top floor and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful vantage on all sides, with Islington in front and the hills of Highgate off to your left. The members club vibe is exciting, particular as you don’t need to be a member to enjoy it.
CAMDENIST TIP: It’s worth stopping off on a couple of the other floors on your way up here, which range from brand new restaurant Wild at The Cross (which launched on May 18th) to the Soho House-style Barn complete with DJs and the decadent velvet-clad Red Room.
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VIBE: The Lighterman was purpose-built from scratch in an enviable spot on Granary Square in the heart of King’s Cross. It’s a lively post-work spot, but also great for lunches, and the roof terrace is sizzling when the sun comes out.
VIEW: Kids playing in the dancing fountains below, boats on the Regent’s Canal and sashaying fashion students heading to/from Central St Martins, it’s all go.
CAMDENIST TIP: If the roof is full, all is not lost. There’s also outdoor space on the Square below, plus a large waterfront terrace around on the canal side, so you can get your al fresco drinks fix one way or another. MENU MAP INFO
VIBE: The international Aqua Restaurant Group have swish restaurants and bars in the world’s top locations, and alongside one up The Shard, there are no less than three in one glam building on Regent’s Street. Aqua Spirit is the destination cocktail bar up top, for those looking to impress.
VIEW: You’re slap bang in the middle of the West End here, perched above the curvaceous splendour of Regent’s Street, so this one is an effortless stunner in all directions.
CAMDENIST TIP: To really push the boat out, your al fresco cocktails can become either before or after a meal delicate Japanese cuisine at Aqua Kyoto, or contemporary Spanish tapas plates at Aqua Nueva, which also has a section of rooftop for dining. MENU MAP INFO
VIBE: High-end decadent Japanese izakaya food and drinks high above the former Odeon cinema in Leicester Square. This gleaming new hotel has got enough going on to draw in actual Londoners as well as visiting tourists, particularly those who love a good rooftop terrace.
VIEW: Leicester Square is home to many bars with decent vantages, but the overall experience here is one to remember for a really special occasion, set under the stars in the Shima garden.
CAMDENIST TIP: There’s still a cinema downstairs despite the site being comprehensively flattened in the process of creating this luxe hotel. There are loads of other dining and drinking options in the hotel to try too. MENU MAP INFO
VIBE: A bit of a hidden gem this one, as most people don’t know you can head up to the top of the Royal Opera House these days, even if you’re not a ticket holder. It’s heated and covered, too, but delightfully airy on summer nights.
VIEW: Beautiful views of Covent Garden and theatre land make this a hit. You can also get a feel for the Opera crowd when there’s a show on, which is always fun.
CAMDENIST TIP: Try coming up here during the day when it’s very quiet. It’s like a dreamy little oasis in the hubbub of the West End. MENU MAP INFO
VIBE: 125ft up in the air, with an all-weather retractable roof so it is possibly to make the most of every conceivable combination of the elements. The bar itself is filled with bold and colourful art including neon pieces and a playful cocktail menu matches the decor, with vibrant twists on the classics.
VIEW: Excellent skyline eye-candy, Holborn is a great location for checking out the likes of the Barbican and the new financial towers across the City and out East.
CAMDENIST TIP: Although the rooftop can fit a fair few people, there are only 46 actual seats, so a trip here – especially on a balmy summer’s eve – needs to be cleverly planned in advance. .
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Find out more about them all in the map below
VIBE: This is the rooftop bar of a steakhouse run by another of those charismatic salt-wielding chefs, who has designed the whole concept around what makes for a good TikTok. It’s a riot of neon, gold and bold patterning, while the drinks menu goes as far as a 24 carat gold wrapped cocktail that’s sixty quid.
VIEW: Even if the Aberdeen Angus and champagne sparklers elements are not what you seek, this is the only rooftop anywhere around Hampstead, and while it doesn’t have rolling views across the Heath, its a good spot on warm night when you feel the need to get up above things.
CAMDENIST TIP: Could be a good start/finish on a mini pub crawl along Haverstock Hill, where the many boozers all have outdoor (if not up high) space.
How it made its name (and briefly lost it)
Public artworks retrieved after over 100 of them were nicked
Today it’s part of the sprawling food, craft and soon to be immersive theatre attractions of Camden Market, but the Victorian era when canal, road and rail converged here is very much in evidence too, if you know where to look