As more high-rise buildings carve out a new London skyline, The Peninsulist went in search of a breathtaking view and a refreshing cocktail. What we discovered is that London offers an incredibly eclectic mix of both. From lofty riverside lounge bars to Mediterranean inspired roof gardens there’s a panorama and an aperitif to suit every mood.
Craft London, Greenwich Peninsula
True to its name, Craft London put the hard graft and artistry into everything they do. The creation of chef Stevie Parle, Craft’s premises conceal wood-fired ovens, in-house curing rooms, a vast kitchen for on-site butchery, a fermenting cellar, coffee roastery, and bee hives, while many of the fruit, vegetables and herbs used are also grown on-site.
The Tom Dixon-designed interiors mix Art Deco opulence with industrial chic, and nowhere is this heady mix more enticing than on the third floor bar, particularly at night. With the lights down low, the rich dark colours of the space come to life and, looking out of the floor to ceiling wrap-around windows, you’re transported to another world.
This is all very much to do with the views; it’s a great vantage point for Greenwich Peninsula’s cutting-edge architecture, mixed in with Canary Wharf’s jagged skyline across the river. Meanwhile below and all around, a sea of people converge to and from the imposing stark, white dome of The O2 and the curvilinear North Greenwich tube station. This other-worldly scene, as if from some highly stylised science fiction film, manages to feel both familiar and futuristic.
And the rather marvelous cocktails have a similar effect too, with head bar-tender and mixologist Adam Wyatt-Jones also championing the ethos of home-grown, local and seasonal. Adam’s creations include infusions and tinctures made on the premises, as well as small-batch British-made gins and whiskies. Familiar flavours come together in bold, modern and refreshing combinations, reflecting the surroundings.
The aptly named ‘More Please’, a shimmering revelation of gin, camomile-infused apricot, honey, and egg white is the perfect accompaniment to an evening watching this brave new world go by.
Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0SQ, craft-london.co.uk
Radio Rooftop, ME London, The Strand
Radio Rooftop, perched on the 10th floor of hip hotel ME London, may not be the highest rooftop bar but it’s one of the toughest to get into.
There’s the dress-code (daytime: smart casual, evening: smart glamorous) and reservations are not exactly straightforward (for anything after 4pm you need to fill in a reservation request). However, once you’re in, wow.
Location is king and boy, does Radio Rooftop have a great one. Every notable London building, old and new, is visible from the 360 degree vantage. It’s just as well the styling is quite muted both in the bar area indoors, and outside on the terrace, as there’s so many other things for your eyes to feast on.
The view’s where the real splendour is. On a clear night with some Balearic beats playing in the background and a gin and tonic in hand, there’s not a lot of other places that can match it for sheer atmosphere.
336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA, radiorooftop.com
The Clipper Bar & Eighteen Sky Bar, InterContinental, Greenwich Peninsula
Stark and austere on the outside, elegantly opulent on the inside, the new InterContinental® London – The O2 is one of the latest additions to the burgeoning Greenwich Peninsula.
Standing at a lofty 18 storeys high, the hotel’s enviable location on the tip of the Peninsula affords guests dramatic river views looking over the broad dome of The O2 and across to Canary Wharf. And the river’s DNA features prominently throughout the hotel’s spaces. The Clipper Bar takes its name from the nimble little ships that navigated the world’s major trade routes in the 19th century, such as Greenwich’s very own Cutty Sark. Windows offer “270 degree panoramic views” (The Peninsulist doesn’t carry a theodolite, but we’ll take the hotel’s word for it), and the furniture is made to lounge in; all the better to take in those spectacular river views.
A stunning marble bar forms the space’s centrepiece, and with its exaggerated ceiling heights, the whole setting feels very much like being on a luxurious cruise liner. And the menu is a reminder of the caliber we are talking about here: the staggering array of spirits, wines and cocktails — we counted 41 types of gin alone — including rare and artisanal bottles, will require several visits to investigate properly.
There are light bites on offer too, as well as afternoon tea. Plus, with opening times between 11am and 1am you really can make a day and night of it. And with views like this, why wouldn’t you?
Eighteen Sky Bar is the final stop at the top of the hotel’s main tower. This is The Clipper Bar’s darker, more decadent sister. Here, deeper, richer colours prevail, and the setting is unashamedly glamorous. Yet again the views are jaw-dropping. The extra height adds a breathtaking perspective, while at night the lights of Greenwich Peninsula and Canary Wharf reflected in the water make it virtually impossible to draw your eyes away from the full-height windows to the menu.
But draw them away you must as there’s real artistry and expertise on show here; the bespoke cocktail list reflects the global journeys and cargo of the clipper ships, featuring spices, herbs and botanicals from almost every continent.
The wine and spirit list is both eclectic and comprehensive, while the Asian-inspired menu delivers the perfect complement. Far from just providing sleeping arrangements for weary business travellers and The O2’s event-goers, InterContinental London – The O2 is very much a destination in itself. Whether you come for the exquisite river views or the delicious cocktails you won’t be disappointed.
1 Waterview Drive, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0TW, iclondon-theo2.com
The Culpeper, Aldgate
Named after the 16th century herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, this pub stands out as much for its innovative food and drinks menu, as for the fact that the vegetables and herbs that grace your plate or cocktail glass are grown right there on the rooftop. And speaking of the rooftop, found in the most urban of settings, the unexpected loveliness of this little oasis calms the mind and eases the eye after the hustle and bustle of the busy surroundings below.
Outside on the decking you’ll find benches and tables nestled between planters and climbing vines; however, the prime location is to be found seated beneath the vaulted glass atrium of the cocktail bar. Here you are perfectly placed for marvelling at the night sky and savouring the garden-inspired cocktails, flavoured with the Culpeper’s home-grown herbs. And in the background, buildings like the Gherkin, the Cheesegrater and the Shard, delineate the new London skyline – a reminder that there’s always something new to discover in our ever-growing capital city.
40 Commercial St, London E1 6LP, theculpeper.com