The roadmap to ease England out of coronavirus restrictions means that since 12 April, we can finally meet up with our friends and family outdoors - hurrah! But with so many bars and restaurants in London, it can be hard to know what venues provide the best outdoor space for gatherings.
While we can't arrange for the sun to come out, we can keep our fingers crossed and book a beautiful outdoor terrace to finally raise a glass that isn't in our own garden. Here are the best and most beautiful spots in the capital...
Best outdoor bars and restaurants
The Ivy Soho Brasserie and The Ivy Kensington Brasserie will be re-opening their beautiful, heated and covered terraces for outdoor dining. Situated in the heart of Kensington and Soho, guests can enjoy wine, cocktails, and Ivy classic dishes such as chicken Milanese, shepherd’s pie and the ever so indulgent chocolate bombe. If you want to book something with the 'wow' factor, these are for you!
For further information or to make an outdoor reservation, visit theivykensingtonbrasserie.com and theivysohobrasserie.com.
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Solas Terrace at The Savoy
Attention seafood lovers. The iconic Savoy Hotel in central London has transformed its grand entrance into a pop-up seafood restaurant and bar – and it looks simply stunning. The Savoy Solas Terrace, in partnership with Bowmore Whisky, hopes to transport guests back to the roaring twenties with its shimmering chandelier, suspended crystal decoration and joie de vivre vibes. The showstopping venue was designed by creative experimentalist Meredith O'Shaughnessy, who worked to create a speakeasy-style lounge that "oozes with opulence, elegance and style".
The pop-up will serve the freshest, responsibly sourced seafood including oysters, scallops, lobster, langoustines, caviar, Dorset crab and Scottish salmon to name a few. There's also an exceptional cocktail menu with a big focus on Bowmore scotch whisky; Solas aptly means light, joy and comfort in Gaelic. The restaurant is open seven days a week until 21 June but pre-booking is highly recommended. So what are you waiting for? Seafood and champagne – sounds like the perfect way to celebrate lockdown easing.
Book a table at thesavoylondon.com.
The Wigmore Summer Terrace and Garden
If you're looking for somewhere to reset and relax after a day of post-lockdown shopping on Oxford Street, the outdoor restaurant at The Langham is just the spot. Possibly one of the prettiest alfresco venues in central London, the Wigmore Summer Terrace and Garden is a new set-up for this year and takes over the five-star hotel's courtyard garden area. With a fully covered pergola on one side, and tables dotted under a canopy of trees in the rest of the 75-capacity dining space, not to mention the reams of fairy lights and hanging flower baskets, it really is the most idyllic spot to while away an afternoon. You'll immediately be transported away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street and Regent Street, and there's no need to worry about rain or the cold weather as the venue has an abundance of heaters and covered tables.
The food menu is inspired by the hotel's pub The Wigmore, so expect everyone's favourites like the cheeseburger and ham hock pie, or the smoked chicken croquetas and the innovative and unbeatable Masala spiced scotch egg. If you're after something more substantial and really want to treat yourself, go for the mouthwatering Buccleuch beef rib eye, which is served with peppercorn sauce and perhaps unconventionally, mozzarella sticks. The drinks list is even more extensive and features a plethora of gin-based mixers as well as summery cocktails. The Russian Spring Punch will suit those with a sweet tooth, but you can't beat a Froze to really get you in the summery alfresco dining mood.
Book now at the-wigmore.co.uk.
Take your alfresco dining experience to new heights, quite literally, at Bisushima in central London. Overlooking Trafalgar Square and the perfect spot to watch the sun set against the city's skyline, this authentic Japanese restaurant has two outdoor terraces that wrap around the main indoor space. It's a fancy but not pretentious venue, and the ideal choice for a cosy date night or to celebrate something special.
You'll really be treating yourself to the finest and freshest fish and seafood, with the menu boasting classics like lobster tempura and sauteed scallops and a never-ending list of sashimi and nigiri. The standout dishes were, however, the toro carpaccio made up of the most exquisite dry-aged toro sashimi, and the more unexpected grilled lamb cutlets you wouldn't normally see on a Japanese menu. Splash out on some fresh oysters to start or smoked salmon with tofu puree, and make sure you save space for their delectable desserts, which are heavy on the yuzu and matcha. We can attest that even dining in the pouring rain didn't dampen our spirits as the staff very helpfully provide blankets and the tables are covered and flanked by heaters.
Book now at bisushima.com.
The Tapas Room
© Frank Payne
Not technically outdoors but still allowed to open by law, Brixton Village is teaming with multi-cultural restaurants and the permanent roof makes it perfect for when you can't rely on the British weather for your alfresco catch-ups. The Tapas Room is by far your best bet if you're in the mood for tapas.
It specialises in traditional Spanish fare, such as salt cod croquettas, pan con tomate and Padron peppers (all of which were excellent), but also surprises with some of its more modern and equally sublime dishes. Among the showstoppers are the duck breast served with pickled pear and hazelnut, and the cider braised pork belly glazed with membrillo and sherry. There is also a wide selection of cheese and cured meats if you fancy a charcuterie sharing board. On weekends, diners can take advantage of their new brunch menu which includes inventive dishes like octopus crumpet and broken eggs with morcilla.
And as for the wine list, it wouldn't be tapas night without a tipple or two and the restaurant's list carries on for pages and pages. From cava to sherry to orange wine and sweet dessert wine, you're spoilt for choice. Delectable sharing dishes, a relaxed yet buzzy atmosphere, and friendly and helpful staff – The Tapas Room ticks all the boxes.
Book now at thetapasroom.co.uk.
The Botanist Sloane Square
Shopping on the King's Road? Then make sure you pop down to The Botanist on Sloane Square for 'Pizza On The Square'. This is an amazing new alfresco dining offering, based in the heart of Chelsea. The new summer pop-up, running in partnership with Casamigos, features a beautiful solid oak bar offset by traditional rattan furnishings and surrounded by palms and foliage to make the ideal setting for lazy summer nights.
Here guests will enjoy the new pizza concept with a newly crafted menu offering authentic, wood-fired pizzas including: Garlic and Mushroom White Pizza, parmesan cream, Buffalo mozzarella, garlic mushrooms, walnuts and truffle oil; Pepperoni pizza with buffalo mozzarella and caramelised onions and the vegetarian Caponata pizza, aubergine, peppers, capers, black olives and buffalo mozzarella to name but a few.
The alfresco menu also caters for those wanting something a little lighter with a Butternut squash and Caesar Salad options all served alongside refreshing tequila cocktails, draft beers and Champagne.
Book now, thebotanistonsloanesquare.com
The Distillery Bankside
Need a treat for the senses? The Distillery Bankside is located on the site of Stevenson & Howell’s Fragrance Factory, which distilled essential oils and manufactured essences, flavourings and garnishes during the 1800s. The bar pays homage to its heritage by serving signature cocktails using home-made syrups, aromatics, infusions and bitters, all hand-crafted by their expert bartenders. Gin lovers can choose from 100 different varieties - so you'll definitely want to head back to tick them off...
To book: thedistillerybankside.co.uk
The Hawk's Nest
A hidden gem in this bustling west London area, blink and you'll miss the entrance to The Hawk's Nest. Two guys with a whole lot of vision transformed an abandoned railway arch into a secret oasis. The divine cocktails and perfect pizzas will impress you and the buzzy atmosphere will keep you coming back for more. The sourdough pizzas are unreal, but do make sure you save room for gelato!
To book: the-hawks-nest.co.uk
Lost in Brixton
Nothing screams summer like Lost in Brixton, a garden oasis in the heart of bustling Brixton Village. The venue, which is decked out with hanging foliage and wooden tables, serves food from the village itself, including from Fish, Wings & Tings, Jalisco Brixton, Okan, and The Joint. Sip on Latin American-inspired cocktails and Brixton craft beers as you enjoy live music from local talent and DJs providing the party atmosphere all summer long.
To book a table, visit lostinbrixton.com
14 Hills has an alfresco terrace perfect for some outdoor outings! With a spectacular view of London's skyline, the terrace will be open from morning till midnight - so get up there for some drinks and dinner in the sunshine! The menu is modern British dishes with French flair, from Monkfish tail with prosciutto to asparagus & beurre blanc.
Book here: 14hills.co.uk
If you live in East London and are keen to stay local, check out the latest pizza and cocktail joint in Hackney - Nebula. Situated moments from Columbia Road and Broadway Market, drinks will be served from a speckled pink bar top made with ocean recycled plastics and glass. For those who have missed out on their festival fix, it's an ideal place to spend the day (with 10 craft beers to sample!).
Book now nebulabar.com
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Darcie & May Green
If you want your colourful Instagram shot, this is for you! Darcie Green's bright barges were designed by legendary British pop artist Sir Peter Blake and is the perfect setting for al fresco dining, plus May Green, open all day, transforms into a buzzing bar with delicious and creative cocktails. The two boats share an open-air deck overlooking the Grand Union Canal - you can even pretend you're on holiday...
Book here: paddingtoncentral.com/eatdrinkshop/darcie-may-green
Vagabond Wine, Paddington
The renowned wine bar and shop offers an incredible 120 wines by the glass, with new wines hitting the store each week (so will definitely see you through the summer...). The tables outside are complete with fire heaters, making it the perfect outdoor socialising spot for wine lovers.
The Dorchester celebrates its 90th birthday in April, and to mark the occasion, has launched The Dorchester Rooftop - their first-ever rooftop bar and restaurant! It's also welcoming back the al fresco 'The Spring Garden', where you can book garden globes that seat up to five guests, making it perfect for the 'rule of six'. Situated on Park Lane, you can guarantee one of the best views in London.
For more details visit: dorchestercollection.com/en/london/the-dorchester/restaurants-bars/outdoor-dining/
If you're more excited about enjoying a coffee that isn't from your own machine, head to Grind in Broadgate and relax with one of their delicious brews as you enjoy a (long-overdue!) natter with a friend. Their food and cocktail list is excellent too - perfect if you have months to catch up on!
Enjoy some holiday atmosphere in Notting Hill over spring at this Tel Aviv-inspired drinking and dining spot. The gorgeous Mediterranean menu has some new bites available including green shakshuka and Home-cured salmon salad - and we can't think of anything better after these long last few months of lockdown!
For more details visit: haya.london
We might not be able to go to Argentina any time soon, but we'll feel like we're there at Gaucho Restaurants! The Richmond-based eatery has a new weatherproof terrace complete with a brand-new Argentine BBQ menu and eco-friendly cutlery and crockery. Count us in!
For more details visit: gauchorestaurants.com/restaurants/richmond
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The Rooftop at the Hippodrome
Perched five stories above London's glittering West End, Leicester Square’s newest open-air bar, The Rooftop, is the perfect place for al fresco catch-ups with friends. Open until 2am seven days a week, the spacious bar is one of the only rooftop venues in the area and what's more, smokers are in luck with designated areas across all three floors. Retractable roofs and terrace heaters mean you’re covered – literally – if April showers hit.
To find out more, visit: hippodromecasino.com/restaurant-bars-lounges
With both Bluebird Chelsea and White City cafe opening their terraces this 12 April, a stylish and relaxed dining experience awaits you, from power breakfasts and elevenses through to dinner and beyond. Located on the King's Road and at the iconic Television Centre, the Bluebird cafes are perfect for coffee catch-ups, dinner dates and a glass of vino (or two). Great for lighter spring evenings, get your fill of vitamin D while soaking up the sunshine with a cocktail in hand.
For more details visit: bluebirdcafe.co.uk/event/reopening-our-terrace/
Old Bengal Bar
Old Bengal Bar in Shoreditch is the perfect place to unwind and meet up with old friends after 12 April, come rain or shine. With a secluded and sheltered courtyard terrace, you can plan your catch-up whatever the weather! Boasting an impressive cocktails list (always served 'with a twist'), spirits collection, and its New Street Grill serving a modern take on the British grill, there is something for everyone.
For more details visit: oldbengalbar.co.uk/
Granary Square Brasserie
Granary Square Brasserie is set to re-open its terrace on 12 April with a showstopping installation With both impressive views across Regent’s Canal and Granary Square's floor-level fountains, the terrace will provide a chic haven to retreat to this spring and summer season.To celebrate the re-opening, the brasserie is launching an array of merriments, including a beautiful, themed terrace, a series of showstopping, carnival-inspired live DJs and entertainment, and a limited-edition cocktail menu. Sign us up!
Find out more at: granarysquarebrasserie.com/
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Sofitel London St James
Sofitel London St James al fresco terrace, The Parisian Café, is centrally located in the heart of St James, overlooking the regal promenades of Waterloo Place and Piccadilly and a stone’s throw from St James’ Park. Guests can enjoy starters of dressed crab with whipped butter, sourdough and bitter greens; nduja tartine with endive and fried hen’s egg, or a dozen oysters whilst sipping on a refreshingly light spritz. To follow, grilled minute sirloin is served with chophouse butter and garlic croute, or lemon sole comes with capers and parsley in a burnt butter sauce.
Learn more: sofitelstjames.com/
Want to really toast the reopening of hospitality? Radio Rooftop, ME London Hotel’s iconic bar with panoramic views of London, has reopened - where guests can enjoy the changing views of the capital stretching from the Shard and St Paul’s downstream, to the London Eye and Big Ben in the west. The re-opening has also brought back Radio Rooftop’s bubbles which will be able to book until 31st May, where the bar partnered with Chateau Léoube and Grey Goose x Bombay Bramble to bring guests 3 themed bubbles to enjoy. Guests can pre-book afternoon or evening sessions to ensure they’re in the prime spot for sun downers and a spot of alfresco dining for the warmer months ahead.
Bookings can be made here: radiorooftop.com/london/bubbles/
Overlooking leafy Green Park, HIDE is serving its fare of beautifully elegant dishes curated by Executive Chef Ollie Dabbous. The re-opening brings with it a new selection of dishes; starters feature blue prawns with ripe avocado & fig leaf oil; chilled broth made from the shells and fresh linguine with Brixham crab, garlic & parsley. Guests can enjoy a selection of mains, from Bulgogi glazed Iberico pork with spring onion & white miso, and 50 day-aged short-horn beef ribeye cooked over charcoal to share, followed by a selection of desserts.
The heated terrace can seat up to 70 guests, with half the tables being held back for walk-ins.
More information: hide.co.uk
South London pizza fans, this is for you! Local and seasonal food is of utmost importance to Mamma Dough's menu, with ‘fresh is best’ being ingrained into the ethos. Founder Jake and the team try every single specialist ingredient; from the essential UK made buffalo mozzarella and Shipton Mill flour, to the imported cured meats, and wines that have been personally selected for the kitchen and bar. Mamma Dough have sites in Honor Oak Park, Brixton, Peckham, Ladywell, Sydenham, South Norwood and Tooting Bec.
For more information: mammadough.co.uk
South Place Hotel
Five-star luxury venue the South Place Hotel in the City of London is opening three beautiful terraces. Chose from a luxury hideaway on the Rooftop Terrace, a beautiful oasis in the hotel’s Secret Garden or the Chop House Terrace, known for its classic seasonal British dishes and extensive wine list. We're particularly obsessed with the hotel's stunning Secret Garden, a beautiful oasis hidden away in the City of London, which boasts a killer cocktail menu. The terraces are open Wednesday to Saturday from 12pm to 10pm.
To book visit: southplacehotel.com/alfresco-dining
Malfy X Harvey Nichols
While we aren’t able to enjoy the Italian sunshine quite yet, MALFY Gin is bringing the spirit of Italy to Harvey Nichols’ Fifth Floor Terrace, transforming it into a Mediterranean escape adorned with lemons and Amalfi-style tiles. The MALFY Lemon Grove is serving an Italian-influenced spring menu exclusive to the terrace and a selection of delightfully refreshing MALFY Gin cocktails, all with a spectacular view, of course.
To book, email email@example.com or visit: harveynichols.com/restaurant/knightsbridge-dining/cafe-and-terrace/
Lillet Colbert Outdoor Terrace
Lillet has teamed up with Café Colbert to bring a slice of idyllic Gallic culture to Londoners this summer; with sophisticated, refreshing Lillet Spritz cocktails served alongside a light French menu, the Lillet Colbert terrace is the perfect place to toast the start of the summer months. Plus, to fully embrace the French way of life, you enjoy a game or two of Pétanque, the classic game of boules – synonymous with French café culture. Team up to play doublettes (in teams of two) or pit your wits against a friend tête-à-tête (one on one). Head to Sloane Square for the fun!
Opening times are from 11.30am – 9.30pm Wednesday to Saturday and 11:30am – 9pm on Sundays. No booking required lillet.com/fr-fr/
Aside from the food, the best thing about Wagamama's is you don't have to have a reservation - in fact you can't even make one. So if you weren't quick off the blocks as the announcement about lockdown starting to lift came out, you can still turn up with a party of six and have a fantastic lunch or evening out.
The South Bank venue has a particularly spacious outdoor zone - 90 covers - while the Victoria restaurant seats a huge 150 at a time. We visited for lunch and there was no problem getting a seat at around midday. It was a surprisingly warm and cozy experience - the gazebos and electric heaters made it balmy enough to eat without coats on. Yes! You heard us!
And the new menu has some delicious meat and vegan options including the raisukaree tofu curry, and an array of summer noodle dishes which are filling and healthy.
More information here: wagamama.com
Founded in Paris in 1854, Mariage Frères is the oldest tea house in France and is a firm favourite with celebrities. The Covent Garden branch is an authentic slice of Paris in the heart of London, with impeccable service, a touch of class and an outdoor seating area perfect for catch-ups with friends. As well as sampling the largest collection of teas in the world, customers can enjoy delicious tea-infused cocktails (the champagne one is divine) and a mouth-watering menu featuring everything from salmon to bao buns – you guessed it, all infused with tea. Don't leave without ordering the 24-carat gold leaf-covered chocolate pudding – tasty and oh so Instagrammable!
Book your table now at coventgarden.london/brand-directory/mariage-freres
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