Five Best: Tables at the top

Sophie Lam finds rooftop restaurants that take dining to new heights

Work up an appetite with a stroll around the National Portrait Gallery, taking in Lemuel Francis Abbott's portrait of Horatio Nelson or Sir George Hayter's depiction of MPs in the House of Commons in 1833. Then head up to the rooftop restaurant where you can feast both on the food and the view - a panorama of the capital's landmarks, with Nelson's Column in the foreground and the London Eye and Houses of Parliament to the rear. The menu features carefully sourced food such as braised English lamb shank, West Cork rump of beef and selections of British cheese.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2 (020-7312 2490; Open daily 10am-5pm, and until 10pm Thursday and Friday. A meal for two with wine costs around £80.

Sirocco, Bangkok

On the 63rd floor of Bangkok's second-tallest building, the State Tower, Sirocco provides a splendid view of the glittering metropolis below and the celestial bodies above. Dining is alfresco, with plenty of tropical foliage and a jazz band to provide a soothing distraction for vertigo sufferers. The lofty setting is matched by haute cuisine with a mediterranean feel and a well-heeled clientele. Aperitifs can be taken at the Sky Bar, a circular cantilevered bar that glows in varying shades of neon.

Sirocco, The Dome at State Tower, 1055 Silom Road, Bangrak, Bangkok, Thailand (00 66 2 624 9555; Open daily 6pm-1am. A meal for two with wine costs around 6,500 baht (£95).

The Pearl, Reykjavik

A vast domed structure surrounded by six giant water tanks, Perlan, or the Pearl, sits on a wooded hill overlooking Reykjavik and Faxafloi Bay. The ceiling is made with over 1,000 panes of glass so that, in winter, lucky diners can see the northern lights. Using Iceland's bountiful fish stocks, the menu offers everything from salted cod to whale carpaccio. Venison and reindeer are also a speciality.

The Pearl, Oskjuhlid, Reykjavik, Iceland (00 354 562 0200; Open daily 6.30pm-10.30pm. A meal for two costs around Iskr 19,000 (£160).

Tower Top, Zanzibar

Among the minarets of Stone Town, the Tower Top Restaurant provides a vantage point for the city's architectural heritage, which claims Indian, African, European and Arab influences. The restaurant is part of the Emerson and Green hotel, a 19th-century former nobleman's residence. Barefoot diners sit on cushions under billowing canvas as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean. Dishes range from creole aubergine to roast fish.

Tower Top Restaurant, Emerson & Green Hotel, 236 Hurumzi Street, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania (00 255 747 423 266; Open daily 5.30pm until late. A meal for two with wine costs around US$70 (£39).

Maison Blanche, Paris

Perched above the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Maison Blanche is part of the Pourcel twins' restaurant empire. The turn-of-the century theatre is a fine example of Parisian art nouveau architecture and was the setting for René Clair's 1924 film Entr'acte. Today the drama has been diffused to the modern restaurant where Jacques and Laurent Pourcel create seasonal, sensory dishes combining contrasting flavours and textures.

Maison Blanche, 15 avenue Montaigne, Paris, France (00 33 1 47 23 55 99; Open daily noon-1.45pm and 8pm-10.45pm, evenings only at weekends. A meal for two with wine costs around €210 (£150).