Marianna Hunt

London’s finest rooftop bars

London's finest rooftop bars
Image: The Outer Courtyard at Tattu
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London has one of the most distinctive skylines on the planet - and what better way to enjoy it than sipping a cool beer or cocktail? As we approach peak summer season, rooftop bars are popping up across the capital. Follow our picks of the top places for great atmosphere and a privileged bird’s eye perspective of the city. 

Tattu, Denmark Street 

Tattu's Cherry Blossom Negroni

Rise above the buzz of the West End with this latest addition to the WC2 food scene. A Chinese restaurant and bar with sweeping views of the city, Tattu challenges the view that London sets the nation's foodie trends; it first burst onto the scene in Manchester and Birmingham before opening in the Capital. The cocktails are as easy on the eye as they are on the tongue. Try the 'Maohatten' which combines Sazerac Rye, Vermouth and oolong tea, or the Cherry Blossom Negroni - practically a work of art.

And be sure to book ahead as there's a no walk-ins policy.

tattu.co.uk/london/

The Culpeper, Spitalfields

An urban oasis in the heart of East London’s creative quarter: The Culpeper’s green rooftop is used to grow veg that is then used in its food and drinks.

Home-grown salad leaves, herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, chilies and more can be found in everything from the salads to the garnishes in the cocktails. Aside from popping by to grab a drink, you can also get involved with the growing yourself either by volunteering with resident gardeners Jack and Janelle or by joining one of The Culpeper’s regular roof garden workshops.

The sunny garden terrace and greenhouse sit on top of a Victorian inn. On the ground floor is a cosy gastropub – serving an excellent Sunday roast. On the first – a classy restaurant doing fine English fare for around £17 a main; on the second - a boutique hotel, and then the rooftop garden.

The pub is named after Nicholas Culpeper, a 17th-century herbalist and astrologer from Spitalfields. In his honour, it has hosted workshops on the medicinal properties of plants and stargazing sessions. 

www.theculpeper.com/

12th Knot, Southbank 

From this elevated point on the Southbank, you get some of the best views over St Paul’s Cathedral and the City.

The terrace aims to plonk you in the heart of an English summer garden. Bay leafs and rosemary bushes fringe the bar while the cocktail menu hones in on various botanical vodkas - including watermelon and basil and white peach and rosemary. 

The picnic-style food fits nicely with the summer garden party vibe. Chipotle lobster rolls and smoked padron peppers provide easy grazing. 

12th Knot is part of the Sea Containers hotel - a modernist block sitting like a great sea liner on the Thames, complete with its own Curzon cinema. Below the rooftop is the hotel’s restaurant, which this summer is taking inspiration from the Surrealist movement to coincide with the ‘Surrealism Beyond Borders’ exhibition at the nearby Tate Modern. Various intriguing pieces dot the terrace - which is doing a tie-up with Laurent-Perrier to offer visitors a top-notch Champagne menu, too. 

www.seacontainerslondon.com/eat-drink/12th-knot/

One Hundred Shoreditch, Shoreditch  

One of just a handful of non-member rooftops in Shoreditch, the terrace at this swanky hotel is open to anyone - provided you can get a booking. 

The aesthetic is chilled out Palm Springs - with millennial pink interiors, plants dangling from the ceiling, cacti poking up their heads next to your table and a soundtrack of upbeat Latino tunes. 

The menu continues the theme with classic Californian fare - healthy fresh takes on American and Mexican classics. The soft shell crab burger and sticky jackfruit tacos are some of the stand-out food options. 

The cocktails too channel Cali’s close ties to Mexico - with both classic margaritas as well as a spiced up version infused with jalapeno, agave syrup and lime. 

www.onehundredshoreditch.com/eat-drink/

Frank’s Café, Peckham 

This rooftop bar was seminal for putting Peckham on the London foodie map. It sits on top of a car park and feels delightfully makeshift - a reclaimed timber structure lashed to the rooftop with just a scarlet canvas canopy for cover. 

Despite its rough-and-ready feel, the structure was actually designed by a top architecture practice and is part of a wider transformation of the upper levels of the car park into an arts and culture venue, hosting concerts and exhibitions. 

Frank’s is the place to see London’s trendy young types sipping negronis, craft beers and natural wines. The food is worth travelling for, too. Think Mediterranean small plates - such as spicy charred aubergine with squidgy dates and crispy chickpeas or succulent chicken thighs slathered in pesto calabrese. 

The views are not quite as glamorous as the others on this list but if you’re into gritty and urban architecture, this is the place for you. 

boldtendencies.com/franks-cafe/

 

The Rooftop at The Standard, King’s Cross 

Perched on top of the 5* Standard hotel, this rooftop bar sits so close to the St Pancras clock tower it feels like you could reach over and wind it yourself. 

In the other direction you can look out towards the higgledy-piggledy shapes of the City and spy the spike of the Shard. 

The rooftop has a relaxed vibe, with bright green astroturf, a crimson taco truck and cocktails on tap. For really hot days, the Aperol spritz slushie is a quick way to cool down fast.  The rooftop gets busy quickly, so book in advance. 

www.standardhotels.com/london/features/the-rooftop-bar-standard-london

Citadelle at the OXO Tower, Southbank

One of the most iconic buildings on the Southbank, the OXO Tower has been used in turn as a power station and a storehouse for OXO stock cubes. Today its terracotta Art Deco tower houses a mix of fancy apartments, art shops, exhibition space, a restaurant and rooftop bar. 

Like 12th Knot (which is a short hop away), the latter has fabulous views over the Thames and historic London landmarks. 

This summer, the rooftop bar is collaborating with Citadelle gin to whizz up various cocktails. Try the gin, pomegranate and Prosecco combo, served with a side of raspberry sorbet. 

You also have the opportunity to sample Citadelle’s one-off cornichon-infused gin - which is best enjoyed as a dry martini with a little pickle juice and a cornichon garnish. 

The terrace will be open until 5 September and does not take bookings for Friday or Saturday evenings.

www.harveynichols.com/restaurant/the-oxo-tower/bar/#