The spectacular vistas across the Thames (to St Paul’s Cathedral and Somerset House) are the draw at this iconic South Bank spot. Owners Harvey Nicks reshuffled things a while ago so that drinkers can also properly enjoy uninterrupted views without dining in the expensive brasserie or restaurant.
The best approach is to book a bar table, though some spaces are always kept back for walk-ins. You then wait to be seated – even the high stools and tables on the terrace are booked, though if you turn right, there is a no-seating, no-bookings observation platform (you may need to wait your turn if it’s busy).
On our most recent visit we found the service haphazard, and although the drinks were well-made with good spirits, they were expensive for what they were – a Pimm’s fruit cup cost £9, plus a 12.5 per cent service charge on top. It’s not the cosiest of places, and has the feel of a cruise ship. But you just have to love those views.