Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden & Bar
It’s hard to miss the bright yellow staircase tacked onto the side of the brutalist Queen Elizabeth Hall; it’s striking and out of place among the drab concrete. I might be misremembering my first visit, but I think I nervously climbed the stairs, wondering if I was allowed to be there. That’s probably why they painted, “Come on up!” in big block letters on the side.
Up the stairs is a gritty, industrial garden designed by Cornwall’s Eden Project. The garden itself is a series of large square planting boxes with tables and chairs checkered throughout. Overlooking the Thames is a patch of astroturf, some benches, and a small bar churning out beer, cider, and Pimms pitchers.
The rooftop garden opened in the summer of 2011 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, a festival that marked the centennial of the Great Exposition of 1851 (the one in Crystal Palace!) and transformed the landscape of London’s Southbank.
It’s a wonderful place to get a pint and take in London; it sits between the Jubilee and Waterloo Bridges, perched above the South Bank skate park, around the bend and across the river from the Houses of Parliament-- and yet it avoids the touristy junk around the London Eye.
Queen Elizabeth Hall
London SE1 8XX
Monday to Sunday: 10am - 10pm
Roof Garden, Queen Elizabeth Hall; Southbank Centre
Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden Bar & Cafe, Time Out London
The Best Rooftop Bars in London, Conde Nast Traveller
Festival of Britain 60th anniversary begins at Southbank, The Guardian
Southbank Centre’s winter garden grotto on Queen Elizabeth Hall roof, London SE1