9 of the Best Rooftop Bars & Terraces in South East London

South east London’s best rooftop bars and alfresco terraces for alfresco eating, drinking and summer vibes

Lead image: The Bussey Building Rooftop Bar 

1 The Bussey Building, Peckham
Coronavirus update: Open with Covid-secure ordering measures and social distancing in place
The huge roof terrace of the Bussey Building in Peckham, the scene of many a party and even the odd yoga class, has had another huge makeover for summer 2020. With the Rooftop Film Club unable to set up shop here for 2020, the rooftop bar has doubled in size, with even more seating, pretty floral pergolas, sundowner cocktails, pizza and one of south London’s best views. Both covered and uncovered areas are available to book, kids are welcome up until 5pm, and dogs on leads can join in the fun too. Open seven days a week, from Monday to Friday in the evenings and noon till late on weekends.
Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4ST; busseyrooftopbar.com

Peckham rooftop bars: The Bussey Building Rooftop Bar is open daily for summer 2020

The Bussey Building Rooftop Bar is looking sharp for summer 2020

2 Frank’s Cafe, Peckham
Coronavirus update: Franks is open Thurs-Fri- 12pm-11pm & Sat-Sun 11am-11pm
Frank’s Café is the hottest spot in town in summer. Open from May till October, it the country’s coolest multi-storey car park with cocktails (make it a Negroni or Aperol Spritz) and excellent sharing plates like buffalo chicken wings with blue cheese crème fraiche and smoked paprika and Parmesan-roasted corn on the cob.  Enjoy the Bold Tendencies installations on the way up to the top floor and buy two rounds at once – the whole of Shoreditch tends to descend on this place so the bar queue is usually huge.
10th floor, Peckham multi-storey car park, 95a Rye Lane SE15 4ST; frankscafe.org.uk

Frank's Cafe (photo by Oskar Proctor)

Frank’s Cafe (photo by Oskar Proctor)

3 Lewisham Model Market
Coronavirus update: Lewisham Model Market is closed until spring 2020
Lewisham Model Market usually opens in April for a summer of street food, drinks and dancing with booze, local DJs and late-night vibes. There are six bars and eight micro diners, meaning you have plenty of choice over watering holes (the rum shack was always a favourite of ours) and a great food. Traders have previously included Sodo Pizza Café, Frankie Goes to Bollywood, What the Fattoush (vegan Middle Eastern cuisine), Mama’s Jerk, Up In My Grill, Mother Clucker, Yum Bun and SE Cakery. Get there early and head for the roof terrace – the Lewisham High Line – with room for about 50 people. Open every Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 1am. Entry is free from 5pm-7pm, £3 after.
196 Lewisham High Street, Lewisham SE13 6LS; streetfeastlondon.com

London's best alfresco terraces: Lewisham Model Market serves great street food and craft beer

Lewisham Model Market

4 Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden at Southbank Centre
Coronavirus update: Closed until spring/summer 2020
Most South Bank amblers don’t even know it’s there, but The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, designed by the Eden Project and maintained by Grounded Ecotherapy (a social enterprise supporting those who have experienced homelessness, mental health or addiction problems), is an excellent find. With plenty of leafy greenery including a wildflower meadow, mini allotments and a woodland garden, alongside awesome riverside views and a cafe bar, it’s a great spot to catch up with family and friends. Open April till late September from 10am-10pm daily, depending on the weather.
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road SE1 8XX; southbankcentre.co.uk

Southbank Centre Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden

Southbank Centre Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden (photo by Belinda Lawley)

5 The Railway Telegraph, Forest Hill
Coronavirus update: Open (kitchen open Thursday to Sunday)
The Railway Telegraph in Forest Hill, established in 1853, underwent an extensive refurb in 2014, creating a new local institution. The Shepherd Neame pub has a gorgeous interior and dining room serving up the likes of grilled sea bass with spicy crayfish and Sunday roasts with huge Yorkshire puds, but the beer garden and dining terrace are the big draws in summer.
112 Stanstead Road, Forest Hill SE23 1BS; railwaytelegraph.co.uk

South east London's best alfresco terraces and beer gardens: The Railway Telegraph, Forest Hill

The Railway Telegraph, Forest Hill

6 The Railway, Blackheath
Coronavirus update: Open as usual with Covid-secure measures in place
The Railway in Blackheath had a huge refurb a couple of years ago, resulting in a slick new interior, a more formal dining area to the rear and a revamped food offering. It’s just what the pub needed, and those alfresco spaces we know and love are still there – just better. There’s the non-smoking garden out back (wonderful for non-smokers and families), plus a roof terrace with heaters and added cushions!
16 Blackheath Village SE3 9LE; therailwayblackheath.co.uk

South east London's best alfresco terraces: The Railway, Blackheath, has a non-smoking garden

The Railway, Blackheath

7 Craft, Greenwich Peninsula
Coronavirus update: Craft is closed until further notice
Acclaimed chef Stevie Parle’s Craft London has a second floor roof terrace with spectacular views of the O2 Arena and beyond to Canary Wharf. There’s not a lot of seating, but there’s plenty standing room so you can pop an elbow on the balcony railing, sip a cocktail and take it all in (watching people climb over the roof of the O2 is quite mesmerising). Craft London was created in partnership with the Tom Dixon Design Research Studio, so it looks super cool, with a restaurant on the first floor and cafe on the ground floor.
Peninsula Square, Greenwich SE10 0SQ; craft-london.co.uk

The bar at Stevie Parle's Craft London

The bar and terrace (to the left) at Craft London (photo by Peer Lindgreen)

8 The Tankard, Kennington
Coronavirus update: Open as usual with Covid-secure measures in place
Formerly a Grand Union venue, this great pub on the corner of Kennington Road and Brook Drive by Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park now belongs to the expanding Draft House craft beer chain. They have a good range of strange and wonderful brews, as well as hearty food to match (snacks include Foot Long Pork Scratchings, Jalapeno Mac ‘n’ Cheese Balls and even Veggie Scotch Egg, as well as the likes of Beer Battered Cod, Chicken Schnitzel and Veggie Burgers). Draft House decided to regift the pub its original, Victorian era name – The Tankard – and it has has an awesome roof terrace with picnic benches and pergolas.
111 Kennington Road SE11 6SF; 020 7582 6685; drafthouse.co.uk

Rooftop bars in Kennington: The Tankard is a great spot for summer drinks

The Tankard, Kennington

9 The Sail Loft, Greenwich
Coronavirus update: Open daily with Covid-secure measures in place
Peaceful waterside dining is a pretty rare find in London, but you’ll find it at The Sail Loft in Greenwich. This new Fuller’s pub serves up a brilliant brunch, with the likes of black pudding hash with fried hen’s egg, plus roasted field mushroom, spinach, butternut squash and sourdough on the menu. If the weather turns, head indoors where you can still enjoy a view of the Thames from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
11 Victoria Parade Greenwich SE10 9FR; 020 8222 9310; sailloftgreenwich.co.uk

Greenwich's best alfresco terraces: The Sail Loft Greenwich is a great spot for alfresco dining

The Sail Loft Greenwich is a great spot for alfresco dining