London’s rooftops that you shouldn’t miss this summerDate: 22 Jul 2016
With summer comes daylight that can last for an entire day, and long outdoor lunches that become al fresco suppers.
Instagram begins to fill up with shots of cocktails shining in jars, brunches with a view and of course, a flurry of photos of the “not very often” blue London sky.
The city rooftops open their doors and with it, summer vibes and breath-taking views that remind us why this city is a such a vibrant place to live and love.
We’ve compiled a list of our favourite spots, so you don’t miss the best high up secrets that London has to offer.
1. Best rooftop for a Mediterranean vibe
1 Westgate Street, Hackney, London E8 3RL
Known by most as Netil House, and only two minutes away from London Fields. This special hidden place in the heart of Hackney has a Mediterranean vibe, with yoga classes, outdoor movies and a “party animal” #trestherooftopdog.
We don’t know if it’s the craft beer, the delicious burgers or the alcoholic cocktail ice lollies from Laura and Cecilia (the girls behind Lapp) that make this place so special. But what we do know is that fun, good DJs and great views of “good-looking people” are guaranteed.
2. Best Rooftop for movie nights
Queen of Hoxton
1-5 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3JX
If you’re the kind of person that “feel the need, the need for speed” or simply get all romantic anytime you see Audrey Hepburn with a Danish and coffee out of a paper bag in front of Tiffany’s, then it means that we have found the perfect spot to spend your summer nights.
From Grease to the Silence of the lambs, this Rooftop Film Club has a mix of ’80s “faves” (Top Gun), recent Oscar contenders ('Carol') and all-time great Hollywood classics (Breakfast at Tiffany’s).
The rooftop cinema experience includes comfy director's chairs, blankets and wireless headphones, and of course summer cocktails.
- Best Pub Rooftop
40 Commercial Street, London E1 6LP
Whether it’s the night skyline (the Gherkin seems so close), the aromatic herbs nestled around the rooftop or simply the nice blend of fine dining in a pub setting, we understand why this is one of the most coveted rooftop terraces in the area. The Culpeper is for those that want to experience the traditional pub but not forsake the excitement of the London rooftop.
This Commercial Street venue just a five mins walk from Locke and hosts a "full-on vegetable farm". Every dish and cocktail on the menu features something from this urban rooftop garden. The Culpeper is a unique mix of great views, tasty food, great cocktails within a traditional English setting – without having to leave the city which is why it’s one of our top picks.
3. Best Hipster Rooftop
10th floor, Peckham Carpark 95A Rye Lane, London SE15 4ST
Frank’s is special for a number of different reasons. If you haven’t been and you are seeking a unique rooftop experience, Frank’s Café is a tribute to how creative London can be. Your first few impressions may be the following: “Are we in the right location? We are in a car park”, “Why are those stairwells so pink?” and / or “why are there so many hipsters walking down what looks like a run-down alley to go to this car park?” Once you have made it to the Promise Land, you will come to appreciate why Frank’s has been so popular for so long.
First opened in 2008, Peckham’s most popular summer bar has been showcasing the works of a number of different international artists including Simon Whybray, whose masterpiece is the baby pink stairwell we mentioned earlier.
Campari seems to be the signature drink of the place, but if bitterness isn’t your thing, they also have the summer essentials (beer + gin & tonics). Last bit of advice: don’t make the mistake that most Frank Virgins make and show up after 7pm – it’s unlikely you will get in.
Try the chicken wings and the sardines.
4. Best rooftop for a romantic date
2-4 Boundary Street, London E2 7DD
This former Victorian warehouse is in the heart of Shoreditch, but with a feel that’s more midtown Manhattan than East London. Located on the roof of a boutique luxury hotel designed by Terrence Conran, the view encompasses Canary Wharf, the Barbican, the Gherkin and most of the weirdly-shaped, quirkily-named skyscrapers that have sprung up around the area in recent years.
You don’t go to the Boundary for a wild night out or to meet others. You go to the Boundary to impress the one that you are taking – if you have an “objective”.
The all-day Mediterranean style food menu (note: it isn’t cheap) features great seafood and grilled steaks. And to be honest, even including the guy in the corner of Columbia Road every Sunday, there aren’t many better places in town to enjoy an oyster or two.
The first five rooftops are our favourites but we felt obliged to at least mention the next three:
5. Best rooftop for Food
Sushi Samba / Duck & Waffles
110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY
Previously an American creation, Sushi Samba (and Duck & Waffles) made its way to the 38th, 39th & 40th floors of 110 Bishopsgate a few years ago. If you’re expecting typical or traditional Japanese cuisine from Sushi Samba, this is not the place. If you want Japanese type cuisine with a Latin twist, then we’re talking the same language. With respect to Duck & Waffles, we prefer the Miami sibling Sugar Cane but have to admit: a 24/7 40th storey diner is quite special. It’s nice to know that at no matter what time you need a view and a Spicy Ox Cheek Doughnut, you can get one.
If you are going for just the drinks and the view, the crowd isn’t our favourite, and having less than £50 in your bank account might force you to have your main course in the local kebab shop. The unbeatable city view, however, makes up for it. If you out look carefully, you might just be able to spot our high-rise Aldgate aparthotel, Leman Locke…
7. Best Central London rooftop for a quick after work drink
Aqua Spirit / Nueva
5th Floor, 240 Regent Street (Entrance 30 Argyll Street), London W1B 3BR
You won’t find a hipster here. And you don’t go here for fashion tips but Aqua can be a fun night out. It’s not pretentious and is conveniently located within minutes from Oxford Circus.
This first come, first served basis roof terrace is the perfect pre-dinner drinks venue after some serious shopping in Oxford Street. Aqua boasts multiple terraces and for one reason or another, everyone tends to be friendly. Maybe it’s something in the Mojitos. The best days to go are during the week and right after work when its sunniest. If you are hungry and want a bite, our recommendation is go to Nueva and sample the Galician octopus with a glass of Marques de Murrieta Reserva. This place has the best wine list of any rooftop venue we have been too and the bartenders know their Spanish wines.
So if your fashion style matches the bouncers taste go and enjoy the view, Spanish tapas and the bar's signature cocktails, the Smokey Fig (Cîroc Vodka, Mezcal and fig syrup) or a tasty Rioja.
8. Best Rooftop for a lunch break
535 Oxford Street, London W1C 2QW
For those keen to “keep it central” but want to grab lunch, here’s a place overlooking the busiest street of London. No, we’re not talking about offering you a job as a Sales Assistant on the 8th floor of Selfridges. We’re talking about the new rooftop pop-up located right off of Oxford Street.
In case you’ve ever found yourself walking around nearby thinking “where the F%&* is the door?”, this sky-high industrial playground is only accessible via a secret entrance between 533 and 535 Oxford Street.
Cocktails, craft beer, ready-made Negronis and Old Fashioned are on the list and if you’re feeling hungry, you can choose from spicy buffalo wings or Japanese street food snacks - including Sashimi Pizza (Bucket List item No 107).