Rooftop bars and restaurants are not a new phenomenon, but they are enjoying a renaissance in the modern ‘experience economy’. Rooftop venues offering stunning city views are ideally placed to provide the unique experiences and ‘Instagrammable’ locations sought by consumers.
A successful rooftop bar can transform the identity of a hotel, and become a visitor destination in its own right. By attracting footfall and creating a buzz around the hotel, it can benefit the entirety of the hotel’s business.
Locations in major cities with iconic skylines are most obviously suited to rooftop bars and restaurants. Unsurprisingly, London is the UK city which offers the largest array of rooftop venues.
Some of London’s trendiest destinations are rooftop bars offering bespoke food and drink offerings and spectacular views across the city. Examples include the Radio Rooftop Bar, above the ME Hotel on the Strand; Aviary above the Montcalm Hotel at Finsbury Square; and the Jin Bo Law Skybar at the Dorsett City Hotel in Aldgate.
However, London is not the sole focus for rooftop development, and hotel operators are increasingly exploring opportunities in regional UK cities. New openings in recent years include the Varsity Roof Terrace at the Varsity Hotel in Cambridge; the Level8IGHT Sky Bar at the Hilton Bournemouth; and the Radisson RED Sky Bar in Glasgow.
LSH has also recently advised an IHG brand on hotel projects in Salisbury and Exeter that will feature rooftop bars. Touristic cathedral cites such as these have huge potential for rooftop bars, especially when hotel sites are well-located with roofs that provide outlooks over city landmarks.
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Practical aspects to be considered when planning a rooftop bar include the configuration of ground floor access, signage and customer lifts. It may be important to minimise disruption and noise to guests staying at the hotel, so separate access to the rooftop venue could be desirable.
An appropriate mix of outdoor and covered space will be needed, to ensure that the venue can be used in all seasons. As a general rule, the higher the roof, the more indoor space required.
It is thus important that rooftop bars and restaurants are well thought-out and tailored to specific buildings and locations. With the right planning and execution, unique venues with huge customer appeal can be created. In a challenging market for high street food and beverage operations, rooftop bars and restaurants can be elevated – both literally and figuratively – from their competition.
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