Somehow I ended up at the Radio Rooftop Bar the other day for a quick after-work drink. Perched on the top floor of the old Marconi House (hence the name), now the horribly named ME Hotel, it commands lovely views of London and it reminded me of some of the bars in Athens (we are pretentious, I know).
To get up there you need to go through the lobby and downstairs bar with its confusing chrome steel bars rising in a twisted fashion from floor to ceiling. Don’t look at them, you go dizzy. Next to the elevators (sleek, black, almost invisible) you will find a strict lady with a clipboard who will reluctantly concede you can go up without a booking if your friends are already there. Shame on you for not booking.
As the elevator doors open you will be met with another strict lady (this one with a computer). I tried to speak to her after my drink to book for Saturday but, you guessed it, they will be very busy with very important people, richer than me and more well dressed. I had some fun with this lady though.
– Anything for Saturday, about nine?
– Ooooohhhhh (constipated look of “you are not important enough”) probably noooooottttt, let me have a look, computer says no.
– Great, how about eight? How about Sunday brunch? How about Sunday after seven?
I just kept asking about random days and times as she was avoiding giving me a single day/time when I might be able to book a table. Delightful woman. Oh how we laughed.
Anyway, speaking as a Greek (we have cafes and bars that could blow your mind – and they are not even the swankiest ones) the bar is nothing special. It kind of looks like an airport bar, seat and table design is boring (apart from some great lounge chairs/couches outside), service is polite but impressively slow. Those outside tables are just wrong for a place as expensive as this, I almost expected to see people in flip flops reading the Greek sports daily and nagging about their job.
Crowd – wise you are in for a treat. Tanned youths with perfectly made up girlfriends (it’s the fancy shoes and blazer convention), business men and women, and some office workers like yours truly.
Where the place excels is the view though. This is what got me very enthusiastic and I so wanted to book a table for a little date. Which I didn’t. Obviously.
On a sunny day or a mellow summer evening this must be a great place to be holding an unimaginative drink (their cocktails menu could have been great, what went wrong I wonder).
If you want to book I was informed on the booking line (very polite lady this time) that for the summer season (1 May onwards) for bookings between 17.00 and 20.00 it’s £50 minimum spend per person and after that it is £100 minimum spend per person.
You can go without booking but I am informed that the strict lady with the clipboard downstairs will insist its busy. This could be hearsay but I trust my informant.
I have to admit that I will probably be going again since in London the choices for outside spaces which do not involve standing up with a pint in your hand are extremely limited. Which is a shame.
This could have been amazing, only somehow, it’s not.
Disclosure: We went to the Radio Rooftop bar on 28 April 2014 without a booking and paid our bill in full. No prior discussion with the venue took place.