The best rooftop bars in London


Katie Gatens

Photos by Daniel Morgan

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May 2017

You don’t need to flock to the country to enjoy the outdoors. Look to the skies, and head up to one of these new bar openings with some of the best views (and drinks) in the city, whatever the weather.

The Boundary

You have to be a member to go to the rooftop of nearby Shoreditch House, but hip hotel The Boundary, just over the road, has the same great view over East London plus a heated orangery, with fragrant lemon, clementine and mimosa trees. In the summer you can bask outside on loungers surrounded by lavender and wild flowers while munching on the all-day Mediterranean menu of chargrilled steaks or light finger food. In the winter there’s an open fire pit and baked camembert to warm you up.

Drink to order:

The signature Earth and Smoke is a heady mix of mezcal, lime and sugar syrup.

Where?

9 Redchurch Street, London, E1 6JL; boundary.london

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"Bask outside on loungers surrounded by lavender and wild flowers"

  • Sky high cocktails at Craft come with a view of the O2 arena.

    Crafted to perfection

    Whether you're heading to the O2 arena or exploring nearby Greenwich Village, Craft stands head and shoulders above the other eateries in the area – with a suntrap terrace to boot.

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  • The leafy Boundary rooftop is perfect for spotting skyscrapers.

    Boutique bolthole

    A place to see and be seen, at The Boundary you can check in to intimate rooms in the heart of Shoreditch, as well as kicking back on the roof terrace to enjoy a summer apertif.

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  • Eat and drink in the herb garden of the Culpepper.

    On ice

    This upmarket pub takes its drinks as seriously as it takes its food offering. Herbs are bursting with flavour resulting in a botanical-bursting tipple.

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The Culpeper

Sip a botanical cocktail among the herb garden in the greenhouse at Spitalfields pub The Culpeper, named after Nicholas Culpeper, a 17th century botanist. The restaurant and pub grows all its own herbs and leaves in its urban rooftop garden, so chances are you’ll be drinking something made from ingredients grown on the roof.

Drink to order:

Go for the fruity Summer Cups and choose between three different flavours, one of which will be the bar’s own Pimms recipe.

Where?

40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP; theculpeper

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  • On the rocks.

    Some like it neat

    If you thought that Canary Wharf was just a place for bankers and suit-wearing office folk – think again. Head there on a weekend – many of the restaurants and bars have deals as it's a quiet time.

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Boisdale Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf is where the well-heeled movers and shakers work, and out of office hours, it’s a stomping ground for those who work hard and play harder. Boisdale restaurant has a 16-square-metre humidor with cigar lockers for members and a huge selection of vintage Cuban cigars. You can even sample indoors before you buy and then head to the heated cigar terrace complete with armchairs and tartan throws.

Drink to order:

With a bar of over 1,000 whiskies, it would be rude not to order one of the many on offer and sip on the cigar terrace.

Where?

Cabot Place, Canary Wharf E14 4QT; boisdale

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Craft

If you’re over by the O2, skip past the usual chain eateries and head to this real gem of a restaurant. Its curved roof terrace provides a 360-degree view of London, including the perfect silhouette of the O2 dome and the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf glittering in the distance. It prides itself on its British fare and no fruit is used out of season. Come for the rooftop and stay for the food by chef Stevie Parle, whose lamb belly with black garlic and Jerusalem artichoke with caramelized onion proves why this is the best restaurant on Greenwich Peninsula – and worth a visit in its own right.

Drink to order:

Continuing with the Greenwich maritime theme, opt for a Cutty Sark cocktail which fuses Gin and raspberry tea syrup.

Where?

Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0SQ; craft-london

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The ME hotel

Few central London rooftops are as glamorous ME Hotel’s Radio rooftop bar on the tenth floor, for which you may spot a queue forming outside of in the summer months. But if you’re a guest at the hotel, you get priority access to the incredible skyline. The view is like a London bingo of notable landmarks – the Thames, check. London Eye, check. The Shard check. The glitzy setting is perfect for Champagne, and you can sink into the plush white leather seats while DJs soundtrack your summer.

Drink to order:

On a hot day, the Thames River Iced ME is a cool drink for cool surroundings (and thankfully, is not made with any ingredients from the actual Thames).

Where?

ME London, 336-337 Strand, WC2R 1HA; radiorooftop

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