With the long days and glorious weather (fingers crossed) of summer comes the perfect excuse for long, languorous dinners outdoors. To bask in the balmy temperatures, Corinthia London welcomes guests to its Garden Lounge, an exclusive outdoor area serving food, refreshments and a special cigar menu. Decorated with gold, cream and terracotta mosaics and dotted with terrarium plants, this is an idyllic setting to linger on summer evenings. But for when you fancy venturing beyond the bounds of the hotel, we’ve found the best places to make the most of al fresco London.
With one of the loftiest locations in London, SushiSamba offers the highest outdoor dining terraces in Europe. Perched up on the 38th and 39th floors of the Heron Tower in Bishopsgate, the views here are jaw-dropping, sweeping out over the city in all directions. Book a table on the 39th floor to enjoy a delicate blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine served up in an open-top dining space, crisscrossed with bamboo and strung with fairy lights.
You’d never doubt your London location with a view that encompasses St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and the Bank of England, but the fine French fare at Coq d’Argent might briefly trick you into believing you were across the channel. A welcome retreat above the busy London streets, the leafy rooftop terrace at Coq d’Argent is a great choice for sunny summer days al fresco in London.
The Ivy Chelsea Garden serves British food and refreshing cocktails all day—a rallying cry for those looking for a sophisticated outdoor space in which to while away an afternoon. Brunch and afternoon tea in particular are sensational here, best enjoyed in the open air and softly scented by the fragrance of the nearby orangery.
Al fresco London is treat enough when the weather allows, but throw in a beautiful lakefront restaurant and we’d wager you might never leave. Serpentine Bar & Kitchen is perfectly placed on the edge of Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lake and offers some of the best informal outdoor dining in the city. Order from a family-friendly menu of wood-fired pizzas and British classics like fish and chips.
Missing even a minute of the long-awaited summer sunshine in London feels wrong somehow—even when there’s world-class art on offer. But at Gallery Mess, thanks to its incredible art collection and bright, breezy outdoor dining and drinking space, you don’t have to choose. And if it starts to rain, just pop into the Saatchi Gallery proper.
An Instagrammer’s dream with hanging foliage and sweeping views, a trip to Pergola in Paddington – or its more recent opening in Olympia – will not disappoint. Rotating food traders mean you are in for a different array of treats at these venues. Plus, DJs and bottomless brunches make these the perfect weekend hangouts, as well great spots to soak up those balmy evenings mid-week.
The Covent Garden outpost of Petersham Nurseries’ Richmond flagship is a gleaming trove of style and taste. Draw away from the beautifully displayed homeware treasures, however, and venture into Floral Court at its nexus. This foliage-festooned central courtyard becomes an al fresco extension of the nursery’s restaurant La Goccia during spring and summer. It serves elegant Italian fare alongside some very drinkable Italian Pinots, all fragranced with vivid sprays of hyacinths and lavender.
While spectacular French cuisine may be Boulestin’s drawcard, it’s the restaurant’s Hidden Courtyard that really wins this particular hand. Set in the serene surrounds of Mayfair’s Pickering Place, the outdoor tables are heated in winter and resplendent with British blooms in summer. Add in sublime cooking, and this is undoubtedly one of the finest places to dine al fresco in London.
The immense sweep of Granary Square is one of the best places to experience the spirit of the British capital in summer – choreographed fountains, throngs of beautiful people, and, of course, a bank of excellent outdoor restaurants from which to enjoy it all. Caravan is one of the coolest kitchens on the square – it neighbours Central St Martins, after all. It has heaps of character, excellent sharing plates, and some of the loveliest al fresco tables in London.