British summers may be unpredictable, but Londoners love nothing more than dining al fresco… here’s our pick of the best London restaurants with outdoor space
If you’re travelling to London this summer the city’s thriving restaurant scene will leave you spoiled for choice, with more than 60 venues and counting holding at least one coveted Michelin star. And for a country not blessed with reliably good weather, the capital boasts a surprising number of al fresco dining options. But fear not – this is England, after all, and most establishments are prepared for the occasional downpour with heaters and blankets on hand for chillier days.
To help you choose, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite courtyard, terrace and rooftop restaurants so you can make the most of the great British summer time. Be sure to pack a sweater and sunscreen, just in case, and book ahead to avoid disappointment. When the sun does come out, the Brits descend en masse to any venue with outdoor space!
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Fashionable Motcomb Street in Belgravia is home to this five-story Nordic-Japanese food and retail arcade. Granted, it’s an usual concept, but it’s a worthwhile addition to your London address book. The ground floor plays host to the UK’s first Café Kitsuné serving exquisite Tokyo-style coffee, but the jewel in Pantechnicon’s crown is the third-floor Roof Garden restaurant, showcasing seasonal Nordic small plates in a glorious garden setting designed by Finnish horticulturalist Taina Suonio.
2. The Petersham, Floral Court – Covent Garden
The Covent Garden outpost of the original Petersham Nurseries in Richmond is set within a Grade-II listed building in the bustling heart of London. Its flagship Floral Court restaurant is decked out to evoke the idyllic Tuscan countryside (as much as one can in central London!), and the Italian-based al la carte menu is unashamedly seasonal, using organic produce from the Richmond nursery and Devon farm.
3. Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury Hotel
Part of the Bloomsbury Hotel, this secluded bloom-filled terrace is one of London’s most Instagrammable restaurants. The all-day menu is quintessentially English shot through with international flavors, or try the delightful afternoon tea. A great option for casual dining in a tranquil setting, and the retractable roof and heaters ensure it’s weatherproof!
4. Bluebird Cafe & Courtyard
This perennially popular eatery is a Chelsea institution, serving up modern European dishes with a side order of people watching in its spacious courtyard off the King’s Road. On sunny days, the atmosphere is hard to beat, while the solid – if not overly-adventurous menu – caters to all tastes. Separate menus for brunch and roast dinners are also available. London’s quintessential place to see and be seen.
5. Sushi Samba – Heron Tower
Perched atop the Heron Tower in London’s historic financial district, Sushi Samba is undoubtedly worth the pilgrimage to East London for the jaw-dropping views alone, let alone the impressive menu which skilfully blends Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian flavors. The glass-walled restaurant provides 360 degree views of London, but diners can also choose from two al fresco courtyards. The East Terrace affords views of landmarks such as The Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie and the Shard, while the West Terrace is home to the restaurant’s iconic orange tree – the star of countless Instagram posts.
6. Chameleon – God’s Garden
Set in the grounds of a Grade I-listed former church-turned event space in Marylebone, this Tel Aviv-inspired restaurant has been making waves since it opened earlier this year. A tented pavilion decked with flowers and vines protects diners from inclement weather, while providing an airy yet cosy atmosphere to enjoy acclaimed Israeli chef Elior Balbul’s exquisite sharing plates. Nine greenhouses are available for more private dining, and live music performances are scheduled through the day. It’s hard to believe this oasis is in central London.
7. Le Pont de la Tour
Top-notch French cooking and a photogenic location next to London’s iconic Tower Bridge – it’s easy to see why Le Pont de la Tour has retained its place as a stylish go-to destination on the capital’s restaurant scene. The a la carte menu is a treat, but the good-value set menu is an excellent option for those who favor a lighter meal on the coveted terrace with views of the bridge.
8. The Courtyard, Ham Yard Restaurant (Ham Yard Hotel, Soho)
The heated tree-lined courtyard at the Ham Yard Restaurant is an oasis of calm in the heart of Soho, serving a seasonal British menu in elegant surroundings. In addition to the award-winning afternoon tea and a la carte options, pre-theater and set menus are also available and offer excellent value. The courtyard is lovely, but be sure to venture inside for to appreciate the eclectic interiors by renowned designer Kit Kemp – it’s a treat to behold!