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The best rooftop bars for stylish drinking

It’s been a long time coming, hasn’t it - sitting with friends in a bar. And while it still has to be outside (puffa jackets at the ready), Bucks and Oxon boast a clutch of rooftop options that will raise your cocktail game.

Victors, Oxford

Just along from The Alchemist on Westgate’s highest floor, Victors also can claim to have it’s own outdoor bar area, this time looking over towards Christ Church and Pembroke College. Victors rocks a Hamptons vibe, serving East Coast-inspired plates and cocktails dripping with Americana. They do a fab brunch too (bottomless if you prefer for £35pp), which could make these last days of lockdown slightly more bearable. Reservations are open now for 12 April.

The Manor, Aylesbury

The Manor

The Manor claims to be the only roof terrace in Buckinghamshire and at present, we can’t see any reason why that shouldn’t be believed (although The Manor team are hoping to open a similar styled bar in Princes Risborough in May). Sitting atop Hale Leys Shopping Centre in the middle of town, the three floor venue contains a restaurant, cocktail bar and a rooftop bar complete with fire pits, heaters and fantastic views over to the Chiltern Hills. Not up for cocktails? Well, the wine list is sourced from Waddesdon Manor apart from the Prosecco, that comes directly from an Italian family supplier in Treviso. Opening 12 April.

The Alchemist, Oxford

The Alchemist

Sat on the top of Westgate Oxford, The Alchemist serves up molecular concoctions that surprise and delight along with food with a global twist. But it’s the outdoor terrace that looks over to the Thames that will be the jewel in their crown this spring. You don’t need to book for outdoor seating from 12 April – so get there quick or be prepared to wait for a table – and booking is now available for tables inside on 17 May. They also do a cocktail takeaway service should you prefer to collect your cocktails and imbibe them at home.

The Varsity Club, Oxford

The Varsity Club

Opening on 12 April for drinks and dining for groups of six, the Varsity Club’s roof terrace looks like it might be doing a storming business once lockdown starts to lift. It offers 360 degree views across the dreaming spires and with awnings, heater and heated seats (yes please), so you’ll be able to play out even if the spring weather does its worst. Cocktails are reasonably priced and the menu is simple but effective. 

Not so keen on heights? Here are some options with terraces lower to street level…

Botanic Bar & Garden, High Wycombe – Wycombe’s foremost cocktail (and gin) bar is opening its doors again on 12 April and bookings are now being taken for its secret (yet covered!) garden. 

Crazy Bear, Beaconsfield – The most eccentric hotel in Beaconsfield does have a poolside terrace, where in fine weather, food from the hotel’s English menu and the bar menu can be served. So if there’s a chance of a warm evening, get booking.

The Beacon Bistro, Beaconsfield – It’s opening on 12 April with room for 28 outside on its two patios complete with rain awnings, heating and lighting. Bookings are being taken now.

Malmaison Oxford – Having decked out the old prison building with a rather luxe hotel, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Malmaison’s terrace for outdoor drinks and dining sits in the old prisoner’s exercise yard. Opening from 12 April.

Gilbey’s, Old Amersham – This well-established favourite is opening for lunch and dinner al fresco on 12 April thanks to a new tented area with lighting and heaters – and even blankets. Book now online or via email as the telephone is not yet manned.

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