Rooftop Terraces Are Raising the Bar
From a ‘Sky Beach’ to a ‘Yacht Club’ Seven Stories Up, the Sky Is the Limit for Germany’s Drinkers
By RHEA WESSEL
From certain vantage points high inside Frankfurt’s banking towers, analysts and brokers from banks including Deutsche Bank AG, UBS AG and Commerzbank AG can gaze down on a dreamy tropical escape: a 1,700-square- meter open-air bar designed like a yacht club, complete with palm trees and pools.
The Long Island Summer Lounge erected by Greek restaurateur Nikos Gatzias atop Deutsche Börse’s seven-story parking garage in Frankfurt’s city center offers the after-work crowd a place to mix and mingle, or to even take a dip in the pool, while soaking in Frankfurt’s skyline and its neoclassical Alte Oper.
“The idea was to create a bit of vacation in the city,” says Mr. Gatzias, who opened the lounge in 2007.
Long Island Summer Lounge is one of many rooftop bars to open across Germany in the past few years, offering sun-seeking patrons an elegant downtown alternative to the oompah of a shady beer garden.
Typically open from May to September—weather permitting (they are only open on days when it doesn’t rain), many of these bars deliver a beach-like or vacation atmosphere with urban panoramic views. Most update their websites daily to inform customers whether they will be open on a particular day, and reservations are recommended, especially on glorious, sunny days.
On a recent Tuesday evening, people in business attire at Long Island Summer Lounge (www.longislandlounge.de) sipped cocktails on the bar’s wooden decks as a breeze played its part in setting the maritime scene. A waiter wearing a nautical-inspired shirt lit candles in lanterns, while couples who had long since left the office snuggled up closely on sofas and canopied daybeds. Reminiscent of a cruise ship, the bar is a prime play spot for parents and kids during the day, with its fenced-off jungle gym and pool, but transforms into a adult-only cocktail venue by night.
Andrea Tassinari, an Italian IT consultant who works in the finance sector and has lived in Frankfurt for 10 years, frequents the Long Island Summer Lounge, often with his kids. He considers it a place to relax and retreat from life’s hectic pace. “You get the feeling that you’re sitting over the ocean,” he says.
Another patron, Uwe Lipphardt, a lawyer in Frankfurt, has been visiting the bar four to six times a month since it opened. He keeps returning because the lounge is different than what you’d expect in downtown Frankfurt, he says, adding that people are friendly, especially when the bar is filled to its capacity of 1,000 people. “It’s easy to chat people up, and if you look at the opposite sex, there’s an attractive offering,” Mr. Lipphardt says.
In Hamburg, atop the George Hotel (www.thegeorge-hotel.de), the Campari Lounge offers restaurant-goers prime sunset vistas over the city’s Alster lake, spotted with hundreds of small sailboats on any given summer day. With a menu of light Italian antipasti, the bar is frequented by those who put a premium on style and appreciate a good cocktail, the hotel’s marketing manager, Oriana Hertlein, says.
Gunda Patzke, a photographers’ agent who travels to Hamburg on business, says she has a feeling of “freedom and independence” when she looks over the lake from the rooftop bar at the George. “It’s a funky and stylish atmosphere.”
Meanwhile, in Munich, two downtown rooftop terraces atop luxury hotels offer picturesque views of the city’s Frauenkirche cathedral against a backdrop of the distant Alps.
At the China Moon Roof Terrace in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (www.mandarinoriental.com/munich)— Germany’s only Mandarin Oriental—guests can enjoy sushi and light snacks with Middle Eastern and Asian accents, while taking in a 360-degree panorama of Munich’s monuments.
Götz A. Primke, a local restaurant critic, is drawn to the China Moon for the setting and the relaxed ambience. “The atmosphere makes you want to stay a while,” he says.
The Hotel Bayerischer Hof (www.bayerischerhof.de) features a spa created by French interior designer and architect Andrée Putman, with a roof terrace open to the public. On warm days, the hotel’s kitchen staff barbeques next to the pool. They serve seafood and steaks to guests in business suits at one table and spa-goers in robes at the next. In the winter, the rooftop is transformed to a so-called “polar” bar at which guests can wrap up in blankets and sit outside, enjoying warm drinks and Alpine air.
Over in Berlin, two rooftop beach bars offer sand, lounge chairs and views of the metropolis. The first, Deck 5 (www.freiluftrebellen.de/deck-5) in Prenzlauer Berg atop the Schoenhauser Allee Shopping Center parking garage, overlooking Potsdamer Platz, serves light fare and Sunday brunch. The second, StrandLitz (www.freiluftrebellen.de/steglitz), is atop the Forum Steglitz parking garage in Steglitz. Both are run by BMH Gastro GmbH.
At Stuttgart’s Sky Beach (www.skybeach.de), which boasts 100 tons of white sand and a vista over the city’s signature television tower and surrounding hills, watch out for squirt-gun-toting guests and flying volleyballs. Owner Lothar Müller says he had classic beach bars in Italy or Spain in mind when he built Sky Beach, which serves cocktails including mojitos, caipirinhas and sex on the beach.
Mr. Müller licenses the bar’s concept, and Andreas Keunecke opened a second Sky Beach in Cologne in 2006 that looks out on the city’s Gothic cathedral and provides the best seats in town for the annual fireworks gala. Perched on the rooftop of the Aral parking garage, the bar is a favorite among sun seekers. And, as Mr. Keunecke points out, Sky Beach Cologne is 35 meters closer to the sun than the beach bars along the Rhine.