When the weather's great in London you're going to want our guide on London's loveliest spots to eat outdoors - even more so now, when there's an even greater desire to dine outside.
Where: 1 Poultry, London EC2R 8EJ
USP: Taking up a huge space on the top floor, this is one of the City's most famous alfresco spots. If you can grab a space here on a busy weekday lunchtime, you've done a good job. Also, make sure to find your way onto the lawn out the back with great views of the City.
Where: 16-22 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3NN
USP: Probably one of London's most instagrammable outdoor spaces, the terrace here is redesigned every season to keep it looking as fresh as a summery daisy. Afternoon teas are particularly popular and the retractable awning means you'll be protected from summer showers too.
Where: Wilton Pl, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL
USP: Tucked in behind the hotel in Knightbridge with a view over St Paul’s Church this terrace restaurant has been beautifully landscaped with bay trees, lavender bushes and jasmine to transport you visually to the Med. Dishes, cooked on the Big Green Egg, complete that vibe and it’s particularly charming after sunset with all the flickering candles and fairylights.
Find out more about The Garden at The Berkeley @the_berkeley
Where: Whitehall Pl, Westminster, London SW1A 2BD
USP: This hidden away gem can be found next to the hotel’s lounge where afternoon tea is served. This courtyard space is open year-round (fireplaces at both ends help with that) and features a menu by the hotel’s executive chef Andre Garret - think cobb salads and Italian courgettes with steamed lobster, along with a suitably impressive list of rosés as well.
Find out more about The Garden at The Corinthia @corinthialondon
Where: 1 Ham Yard, Soho, London W1D 7DT
USP: A rarity in central London, the titular 'yard' here is an oasis tucked in away from the traffic of Soho and Piccadilly. Created by the bombing during The Blitz it's now a super place on a summer's afternoon or evening - if you can get a table...
Where: 8 Brook Street, London W1S 1EY
USP: Even though this tucked-away courtyard makes you feel as if you've stumbled on a secret garden, it's about the worst kept secret in London. You'll have to fight hedge funders and other Mayfair folk for your chance to nab a coveted table on a sunny day.
Where: 55 Marylebone High St, London W1U 5RB
USP: While there is a special terrace menu of small dishes upstairs at this Marylebone restaurant, what you're really after with your chilled glass of wine is a cheese plate from Orrery’s famous trolley. Enjoy the French food and on a summery day with the traffic noise of Marylebone a distant hum, you could easily be in Provence.
Where: 31 King St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8JD
USP: Given they have a full-blown nursery down by the river, you'd expect any alfresco space by the Petersham Nurseries crew to be rather lovely. This new courtyard space they say "combines English country charm with Italian elegance". We say it provides a rare opportunity to eat alfresco in the heart of London without cars whizzing by.
Where: 36D Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE
USP: One of the classics of the south bank of the Thames, this restaurant's terrace has unparalleled views of Tower Bridge. Just be prepared to have passing tourists giving you jealous looks as you toy with your crab and grapefruit salad in the sunshine.
Where: 150 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9BR
USP: John Williams' Michelin-starred cooking is great any time, but we can't think of a more beautiful spot for a lunch than overlooking the gardens at The Ritz. If you're after something a little more casual, head to the hotel's Secret Garden bar where they serve up club sandwiches alongside caviar and champagne.
Where: 20 Mount St, London W1K 2HE
USP: The terrace at this Mayfair establishment has long been a spot where you'll find yourself sitting downwind from unrepentant smokers like Ronnie Wood or Charles Saatchi and getting your photo taken by passing paps.
Where: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 20 International Way, London E20 1FD
USP: The wraparound terraces at Allegra’s seventh-floor restaurant at The Stratford are beautiful - imagine a wildflower meadow in the sky and you’re halfway there. The terrace menu makes full use of the wood-burning grill and their weekend brunch is a popular alfresco option.
Find out more about Allegra @allegrarestaurant
Where: Unit 7 Queen's Yard, Hackney Wick, London E9 5EN
USP: If you can grab one of the coveted outdoor seats at this Hackney brewery, you'll want to stay there all night. Not only can you work your way through the beer but you can always think about a cocktail cruise on the Alfred Le Roy, moored outside.
Where: 254 Hackney Rd, London E2 7SJ
USP: The terrace leading off the upstairs dining room at this East London gastropub could feel a bit like climbing out on to your flat roof, were it not for how beautiful it looks with all the greenery. Clearly there'll be a summery, seasonal menu on offer - but make sure you don't miss out on their legendary brown butter tart.
Where: Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, London E2 7ES
USP: Once you've actually found your way in, which is harder than you'd expect, nabbing a table out in the walled garden at the original Rochelle Canteen feels like a total blessing. Enjoy super seasonal cooking by owners Melanie Arnold & Margot Henderson in this East London oasis.
Where: 7 Roach Rd, Fish Island, London E3 2PA
USP: If you feel the ground slightly swaying under your feet here it’s just as likely to be the gentle swell of the Thames as it is down to any overindulgence. The outside terrace at this Stratford cafe is built out on a pontoon, so it rises and falls with the river. It’s a super space both for banging brunches or laid back evening drinks.
Find out more about Stour Space Cafe @stour.cafe
Where: Serpentine Sackler Gallery, West Carriage Drive, London W2 2AR
USP: The first Chucs to do takeaway, the real draw here - other than their great Italian food - is the marvellous backdrop of the late, great Zaha Hadid's Serpentine Sackler Gallery. A feast for the eyes, as well as the stomach.
Where: 95-97 Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, London W11 2QB
USP: If you like the idea of alfresco more than the reality, then this enclosed courtyard space with a retractable roof is the place for you. More of a restaurant with the roof taken off on sunny days, this Notting Hill establishment is perfect for England’s unpredictable summers. The menu features lots of dishes cooked over wood fire to give you that BBQ vibe too.
Find out more about Gold @goldnottinghill
Where: 195 -197 King's Rd, Chelsea, London SW3 5EQ
USP: An Instagrammer's dream spot (and popular with the Made in Chelsea crew too) the Ivy Group brought in an award-winning designer to create the space at their King's Road restaurant. There's a covered upper terrace and a cosy firepit when the weather's not all that, but really it's just an evergreen dream out here.
Where: 55 Exhibition Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2PN
USP: It's hard to think of a more pleasant way to spend a summer's evening than downing ice-cold shots of vodka under the billowing canopy of Ognisko's terrace, looking out over Prince's Gardens, while pondering what kind of pelmeni to have
Where: Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, Hammersmith, London W6 9HA
USP: As long as you don't think about the bill, sitting out on the banks of the Thames enjoying the super Italian food here really is a case of 'life doesn't get much better than this'.
Where: 1 Crisp Rd, Hammersmith, London W6 9DN
USP: Making full use of its riverfront location by Hammersmith Bridge, this large new terrace with room for more than 30 diners is serving up a seafood menu with oyster platters and dressed crab on offer. Order some frozen margaritas, watch the boats go by and all will be well with the world.
Find out more about Sam’s Riverside @samsriversidew6
Where: 3 Viaduct Gardens, Nine Elms, London SW11 7AY
USP: As part of the Vauxhall development which includes the new American embassy and helped inspire this oyster bar, grill and bakery, there was tonnes of room to go crazy with the landscaping here. You approach the terrace via stepping stones across ponds inspired by New York’s High Line park and it’s a super spot for a platter of Dooncastle oysters and a chilled glass of wine.
Find out more about Darby’s @darbyslondon
Where: Circus West Village, Battersea Power Station, London SW8 5BN
USP: Enjoy cracking riverside views at Francesco Mazzei's outpost at Battersea Power Station and watch out for weekend yoga and brunch sessions.
Where: 4 Duchess Walk, London SE1 2SD
USP: The terrace at Gunpowder’s riverside location gives you an excellent slice of view over Tower Bridge as you enjoy your okra fries and Kawari soft shell crab.
Find out more about Gunpowder @gunpowder_london
Where: Lakeside Cafe, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ
USP: This park cafe punches way above its weight - the owners here are ex-Petersham Nurseries and Spring with Skye Gyngell, via stints at Chez Panisse and more. With beautiful views over the Thames, this is a top spot for a steak sarnie or squash salad.
Where: 14th Floor, 40 Blackfriars Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8NY
USP: This rooftop restaurant has a huge outside terrace overlooking a great swathe of the south bank. Although all those rattan chairs and palms make it look more like Miami than Southwark. Order up a flamboyant cocktail while you pursue the mainly seafood menu.
Find out more about Seabird @seabirdlondon
Where: 106 Camden Passage, The Angel, London N1 8EG
USP: The narrow frontage of this Camden Passage restaurant gives no hint of what's to be found at the back. One of London's great garden restaurant spaces, part of it's laid out in patio but there are also mature gardens too. It's popular as a wedding space though, so check ahead to see if it's booked out.
Where: 3 Granary Square, London N1C 4BH
USP: Apparently one of the most profitable spots in King's Cross and it's not hard to see why - the first floor has a wrap-around terrace, the ground floor pub has a lovely terrace overlooking Granary Square and there's a canalside bar terrace too.
Where: 42 Gloucester Ave, London NW1 8JD
USP: The sunken garden area at Nadra's Primrose Hill restaurant is totally protected from any nasty draughts. All of which makes it pretty much perfect for trying one of the 15+ martinis on their bar menu. You're probably going to need some of their prawn and chive dumpling bar snacks to go with that.
Where: Coal Drops Yard, Stable St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4PW
USP: Inspired by Ibiza’s alfresco grill restaurants, the urban backdrop of this Coal Drops Yard restaurant can’t be beaten. Enjoy DIY barbecuing on your own grill as you watch the Eurostar snaking past you and around the Grade II listed gasholder frames.
Find out more about Parrillan @parrillanlondon
Where: 63–69 Canonbury Rd, London N1 2DG
USP: In London's least green borough, the pretty garden squeezed into an intersection between two roads at an Islington BBQ restaurant is super popular come summer. The smell of jasmine neatly blocks out any traffic fumes although you might get a whiff of BBQ from the grill.
Plus - more new alfresco spaces
With social distancing the key measure, loads of London restaurants are adding new alfresco seating. Here are more places you can eat outside this summer.
- Casa do Frango (Shoreditch) - Peri-Peri chicken outside in their new Shoreditch terrace.
- Covent Garden - a brand new alfresco area has appeared in the piazza.
- Padella (Shoreditch) - no more queuing, now you can get cacio e pepe alfresco
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