High class: where to go for the best views in town

Tim Badham
WITH roof-top bars and outside space in London hard to come by (or just plain wet), top floor views and cityscapes have become the next best thing and a desirable year-round alternative. This week, as one high and mighty new members’ club opens its shiny elevator doors for the first time, another is scrapping its members only designation for a more inclusive, still well-heeled, entrance policy.

While the restaurant and lounge bar at the top of 30 St Mary’s Axe (The Gherkin) has been open for some time to building residents and a privileged few, the all new Searcys Club | The Gherkin has just launched on the floor below (the 38th) and offers a truly luxurious experience. The soft furnishings and abstract decorative woodland wall coverings give the club lounge a contemporary and eclectic lodge-style feel. However unlike any other members club, the outer wall is replaced by sensational panoramic views of the City, seen through floor-to-ceiling windows set against the ultra modern exoskeleton of the Gherkin. The caché of having breakfast meetings, relaxing lunches or after-work drinks in that setting at the top of one of the capital’s most iconic buildings will no doubt be appealing enough, but the carefully considered collection of fine whiskey may also be a draw. The extremely amiable GM Mark Harris (formally of Green’s) is such an enthusiast that he even has his own limited edition whiskey. They are only aiming for very high flyers at London’s highest members club, with only 1,000 memberships to be released.

Further good news for those of you wanting a room with a view is that Paramount at Centre Point has recently ditched its member’s only policy. Those in the know can now sample its lounge bar, restaurant and amazing 360-degree viewing gallery by simply calling ahead. If you are a sucker for spectacular views and ear-popping elevator rides you should also consider a trip to the stunning Attic Bar in Canary Wharf for a New York sky scraper impression, or the lofty Altitude 360 on Embankment for simply the best views of Parliament in town.

Established spots on the radar for the best views in London include the Portrait
Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery, Vertigo 42, Kensington Roof Gardens,
Coq’Dargent, Galvin at Windows and Tate Modern Restaurant. Another exclusive
members club on the way also looks set to offer views from its roof terrace. 5 Hertford
Street should be quite special as it’s a venture from Robin Birley, former owner of Annabel’s and the Birley Group. Tim Badham is the MD and founder of Innerplace, London’s leading entertainment and lifestyle specialists. Membership from £40 per month. www.innerplace.co.uk