Ready for Rooftops?

10 differences you will find when get back on top.

Wondering whether rooftops will be the same fun they used to be? Concerned at how safe you will be and feel? Or are you looking at rooftops now as a socially distancing solution for your summer socialising?

In just over a week I have rooftop hopped back to 6 of my favs that also all are in walking distance of my station, Waterloo. (As I wasn’t ready for rooftops that involved tubes yet) So if you are still unsure whether to go, here’s 10 things that you will find different:

Seabird – the cocktails are still fabulous!

1. Booking: Many rooftops were walk ins only pre Covid-19 – now it’s all about booking. Whilst walks ins are still welcome it is more of a risk. Some bookings also now require deposits which as long as they are refundable seems fair. Oxo Tower current don’t take deposits but 231 people booked and didn’t show in their first week back after being closed for 4 months. So if you can’t make a booking, deposit or not – let your venue know.

Oxo Tower

2. Hand sanitizer: Is everywhere! Freely available and encouraged. Oxo Tower even had some in the lift!

Oxo Tower

3. PPE & masks: I was really surprised at how there was a real mish mash of whose wearing what or not. Radio Rooftop staff are fully visored up whereas other rooftops some had masks and some did not.

Bar Elba

4. Menus: Aqua, Seabird, Oxo Tower now have QR codes on the tables that link through to a menu – you just need a phone camera to use it. Radio rooftop has disposable paper menus now and Bar Elba had a set menu that is given verbally if you are doing their bottomless brunch (either a vegy burger or beef burger so pretty restrictive food choice) but was hugely popular so much so they seemed to have over sold so were having to move people. Definitely more for the risk adverse even though safety is their concern with details are taken at booking with new rules emails through in advance.

Aqua Nueva

5. Tables: I thought it would feel and look really odd and sparse but turns out a few metres isn’t that far. So whilst capacities have been reduced, which definitely help the feeling safe, it also doesn’t make it weird.

Bar Elba

6. Sitting down: Now this I liked! A lot of the younger rooftop crowds are all about standing in groups chatting to other groups. Sadly it is less of the banter and more of the sitting and staying sat unless we need the toilet. No table hopping: joining others, roaming around or pushing your way through to get the view picture. Having said that everyone everywhere was very accommodating to allow each other to have the best experience possible.

Radio Rooftop

7. Ordering: I had heard you’d be sat ordering online at your table and there would be collection point for drinks. Maybe thats happening in indoor bars but it’s not what I’ve experienced so far. Whilst the menus have been removed ordering was surprisingly normal … and it was nice to still be able ask questions and get advise from a safe distance from your waiter.

Aqua Kyoto

8. Sitting at the bar. Whilst this isn’t applicable on these rooftops, most do though have inside bars and what was noticeable was the stools were all gone. (Except at Seabird where they have the raw bar in a square and able to sit socially distanced on each side within your party)

Radio Rooftop

9. One way systems: Radio rooftop and Oxo Tower now have anti clockwise systems. So you can go to the toilet without bumping into staff or guests coming the other way. Seabird now has marking on the stairs down to its toilets to keep to left. A lot more civilised!

Oxo Tower

10. Entrance and exits. Lifts are now restricted to just you and your party. Bar Elba is one rooftop with stairs and so now has new exit… but if you love getting those iconic selfies on their stairs… don’t wait till the end, you’ll be leaving a less selfie friendly route!

Bar Elba

Summary: If you are nervous or feeling vulnerable then you may find how normal it is unsettling. For me, who hadn’t even had a picnic yet it was reassuring enough without ruining the experience. And it’s worth remembering keeping safe is also down to us. To wash our hands and keep our distance from other guests. We all have to do what we feel comfortable with, go to places when we are ready and at the pace we feel is right in line with the government’s guidelines.

One thing that hasn’t changed … are the views…

Oxo Tower view