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.
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
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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
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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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/