With summer finally deciding to make an appearance in the UK (we like to do things out our own pace, it seems, over here), there’s no better time to book a reservation or two at your favourite restaurants with outside space in London.
There’s nothing better than getting some of that much-needed vitamin D as you tuck into a delicious meal and whether you’re grabbing a quick lunch, dinner with friends or your date is going al fresco, there are plenty of options to choose from.
While some pubs and restaurants have permanent outdoor seating areas, others actively create their own in the summer so that its patrons can enjoy a delicious meal al fresco as soon as the sun decides to come out.
From pub gardens to rooftop terraces, there’s a number of spaces to soak up the sunshine with your favourite dish and a glass of something refreshing – and we’re here to help you find all the best places in the city to do just that.
London is a foodie capital and at times dining options can be overwhelming. If you’re in need of some guidance for your next al fresco booking, look no further than our list below.
We’ll never say no to a new Portuguese restaurant opening up in London and new spot Joia does seem to be drawing in all the crowds. While its rooftop (complete with that swimming pool) has certainly nailed the Instagram aesthetic on the head, we can’t credit Joia’s success solely to this, having dined on its delectable menu ourselves. An excellent pan con tomate set the meal off to a great start (it can really go the other way, you see), followed by the classic Iberico ham croquettes – once again, it’s like a rite of passage with this type of cuisine. The classic tortilla secured a solid spot in our good books, while the grilled leeks and beef pica pau (a highly popular Portuguese snack dish) were also crowd-pleasers. The salted cod worked a charm. We loved the Josper-grilled prawns and recommend you definitely leave space for the arroz con leche (in this case, passionfruit cream rice pudding).
Stepping into the terrace at Luca is like stepping straight foot in Italy. With exposed brick walls, plenty of shrubbery and a retractable roof, the one-Michelin-starred spot is the perfect way to while away the hours in true al fresco style. Enjoy everything the restaurant has to offer in this secluded oasis, from the must-get parmesan fries (cheese lovers will want several portions of these gooey churros) to the pasta made fresh every day in The Pasta Room (shouldn’t everyone have one of those?). During the summer, seasonal delights include Orkney scallops, Cornish lobster and Hebridean lamb. Wash that down with a house cocktail such as the Luca Martini or the Gold Negroni, or consult with head sommelier Enzo for something from their excellent wine list – the bone-dry Soave Classico Calvarino Pieropan gets our vote.
A newcomer to the terrace scene in London, Florattica sits above the Canopy by Hilton in East London. A hidden gem if you’re looking for understated luxury, the decor is full of floral designs and bold colours – accompanied by equally strong cocktails. Come rain or shine this little oasis is a great hideaway from the busy city, with both indoor and outdoor seating, where you can enjoy a variety of premium drinks from the bar and sharing snacks. The sourdough flatbread with whipped feta, peppers and rosemary jam was a particular standout, but there’s also oysters, a selection of sushi, teriyaki chicken skewers and more.
If you’re looking to soak up a great summer vibe alongside sipping signature cocktails, Sabine is the place for you. Offering a stunning view of St Paul’s Cathedral, as well as gorgeous sunset scenes and the Shard on the other side, Sabine is a great terrace for kicking back after a long day at work. With Sabina Coladas and dangerously good daiquiris on the menu (among other favourites, of course), it was only too easy to sit back, sip and snack on delicious bar bites such as pulled lamb or barbecue jackfruit tacos; tandoori prawn skewers; mac n cheese bon bons and much more.
Outcrop X AngloThai
You have just over a month to catch the excellent collaboration between Outcrop and AngloThai at 180 The Strand – and it’s one that should not be missed. The leafy courtyard at the heart of London’s West end offers John Chantarasak’s signature (and spicy) Thai-British food, featuring oysters dressed in sea buckthorn and fermented chilli, curried flatbreads, zephyr squash tempura, som tam salad, vine leaf-wrapped hake, and much more. Wines are of the low-intervention, natural, barrelled variety and the cocktails pack a punch. Dine in dappled sunlight under the canopy to bops from DJs, selectors and collectors, then venture inside to take in the immersive art installation. No spoilers here. It’s worth seeing for yourself.
Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch
Tucked away in the heart of Shoreditch is the Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch. While the full menu is served in the main restaurant, a revised, smaller offering is just as delicious at the bar or on the terrace and serves up the same stellar dishes we all know and love: crispy rice with either salmon or tuna; salmon, chicken or beef mini tacos and that yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno and ponzu. Next time we might just take 10 plates of that, to be honest with you. But on a serious note, the sushi is delicious and a refreshing light bite to enjoy al fresco, with some tables set down below from street level to offer an escape from the hubbub of the city. The bar menu also offers a newer Nobu offering: the monaka – your choice of salmon, tuna or avocado tartare sandwiched between two thin crisp wafers made from mochi.
From oysters with pickled cucumber and sorrel to whipped ricotta, pickled beetroot, lemon thyme, there are plenty of delicious dishes to enjoy alongside a cocktail or two, while basking in the (occasional spot of) sun that graces this city. Other items from the menu that caught our eye include the Cornish mussels in smoked cider and butter sauce and we’d never say no to almond ice cream with poached rhubarb and black pepper sable. We can confirm the cocktails went down a treat but now it seems you’ll see us back for dinner, too.
The little sister of Israeli eater Bala Baya, Kapara is the latest offering from chef Eran Tibi who has brought a taste of Tel Aviv to the streets of Soho. In addition to a variety of cocktails to be enjoyed on the terrace, we’d also recommend you not leave before trying the baklava prawns – one of our top favourite dishes in London – as well as the likes of the romano carpaccio, braised aubergine and tomato hummus and oxtail in pearls.
Jurema at The Mandrake
Simultaneously sultry and seasonal, Jurema at the Mandrake stays true to the hotel’s moody on-trend decor, while also making bringing a spot of summer to the terrace – courtesy of a hanging garden of suspended jasmine and passionflower. A main feature throughout the hotel (with all floors looking out onto it), it’s a great space to enjoy a drink (should you be tempted away from Waeska downstairs). Food-wise, it’s all from Yopo below so we knew it would be great and the terrace also offers a beautiful Sunday brunch where you can tailor your experience from free-flowing cocktails to unlimited Veuve Cliquot, alongside crab tostadas, wild mushroom buckwheat crepes and chorizo eggs benedict dishes. Coupled with a DJ and tarot reading, you’ll find yourself checking into a room (should there be availability) afterwards, never wanting to leave.
Hotel AMANO is another secret terrace in the heart of central London – and it comes with a beautiful view of the city. Sip on chamapgne or choose one of the cocktails expertly created by the bar staff at the rooftop bar. The seventh floor is a true highlight of the London hotel. With dishes making their way up from the kitchen at Penelope’s (the hotel’s Israeli-Spanish restaurant downstairs), we’d say bar snacks have certainly stepped up in the form of salmon tiradito, black challah calamari (possibly our favourite in London), pan con tomate and much more.
The Landmark London
It’s one of London’s most well known hotels and for good reason. While the Landmark London has no traditional terrace as such, its Winter Garden still makes for a magical sun spot – and is perhaps not such a bad idea when the city’s weather is so unpredictable. Whether you’re there to dine on the modern European menu or opt for a classic or seafood-themed afternoon tea, there’s plenty to feast upon at the Landmark London and, if we do say so ourselves, the most elegant setting in which to do so.
While the Sanderson London normally draws people in for its iconic Long Bar and Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea, we’re here to tell you that you shouldn’t be quick to overlook the terrace either. The current pop-up in the garden is with The Uncommon, where you can enjoy a slice of escapism from central London alongside a mint and jasmine rosé wine spritzer. Known for its eco-friendly bubbly wine in a can, The Uncommon drinks are being used to create cool and carefully-crafted cocktails, perfect for summer.
Perhaps the OG when it comes to a view of St Paul’s, Madison is most known for its buzzing bar but its restaurant has long been on our radar, too. Whether you’re enjoying a bottle of rosé in the sunshine as you watch people taking photos of the impressive monument or you’re feasting upon dishes such as prawn linguine, swordfish steak or a mixed mezze plate, nothing quite says summer than this terrace.
St Martins Lane
While boasting a variety of dining concepts within the hotel, come summer we’re most interested in the outdoor terrace for some after work drinks. Currently home to TRIP, the terrace offers a quaint oasis just moments from the hustle and bustle of Leicester Square. Sip on refreshing cocktails which have all been inspired by the CBD drinks brand. St Martins Lane’s mixologists have expertly crafted such beverages, featuring the peach and ginger, elderflower and mint, and lemon and basil drinks. To be enjoyed best alongisde small plates such as spiced gazpacho, octopus carpaccio and much more on the main menu.
Forever a favourite in East London and across the globe, Mama Shelter is always a good time – and now that good time can be had on its terrace. Whether you’re making the most of the seasonal drinks pop up at the bar or simply enjoying your brunch (we love the chicken schnitzel and the pulled beef bao), this sun trap is a great spot to unwind come the weekend.
Blink and you’ll miss it – we’ll get onto the food and drink in a second but Bantof might just win the award for “secret terrace in the centre of London”. In the heart of Soho sits this tiny terrace, which offers the perfect escape to the hustle and bustle of the city – plus some good grub. Sit back with a great martini (though we did have our eye on the almond sour as a virgin digestif, too) and enjoy some seriously good padron peppers, one of the most tender-cooked octopus we’ve tried and an absolutely stunning sea bream tartare. Mains of lamb chops and sea bass certainly did not disappoint and if you’ve got room, there’s a chocolate mousse with your name on it.
Secret terraces do seem to be all the rage right now (or in this round up, at least) with even The Hari getting in on the action. This quaint little terrace is perfect for hotel guests or passerbys to sit back with a cocktail and enjoy some sun in a more relaxed environment. While you won’t find DJ beats and dancing, you can enjoy a delicious all-day dining menu featuring everything from oysters to beef brisket croquettes to a tagliata. Currently Malfy Gin has taken over the terrace so you can experience a little bit of Amalfi lifestyle in the heart of London.