What better way to absorb the sights and sounds of the capital than from one of the many London restaurants with great views? Do you agree with our choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
London restaurants with a view
The beauty of Aqua’s low-lit restaurant on the thirtieth floor of the Shard is that it’s the right height to really appreciate London’s riverside cityscape. By day, the views stretch from Tower Bridge to the London Eye and beyond; at night, you can see the lights from the riverside buildings reflected on the water below. The menu offers diners global fine-dining dishes that are impressive yet impersonal, with plenty for expense-account types or those pushing the boat out (we’re looking at you, £160 wagyu…).
This temple to meat offers one of the most imposing views in London: up here, you’re almost nose-to-nose with St Paul’s. Established by superstar chef Jamie Oliver and American barbecue maestro Adam Perry Lang, Barbecoa serves meat in all its forms: properly hung, lovingly cooked steaks; perfect roasts; slow-cooked pit barbecue dishes; the works (needless to say, vegetarians need not trouble themselves for a reservation). The views and the concept are catnip to on-duty City suits – if they’re not your cup of tea, try the weekend brunch.
"Enjoy our set menu offer for lunch and dinner – two courses at £20, three courses at £25."
A long-time favourite, the Blueprint Café would be a destination for its setting alone: its huge windows look out over the Thames and Tower Bridge, while a retractable canopy lends a great inside/outside feel to the dining room (well, the restaurant is part of The Design Museum). Dishes on the seasonal menu are beautiful but in no way twee – think wild nettle and asparagus risotto dotted with vibrantly green broad beans, or deliciously sweet-sour blood orange cheesecake with tangy passion fruit sorbet.
Jason Atherton’s sky-high City outpost, up on the twenty-fourth floor of the non-descript Tower 42, is another of those swanky yet un-wanky establishments that the chef and restaurateur does so well. Of course, during the week you’ll be surrounded by suits #smashing Important Business Meetings, but it’s a small price to pay for such great views – bag a much-coveted booth and you'll sit staring out at iconic buildings such as the Cheesegrater, the Gherkin, and even St Paul's. The best thing part of the view? You can't actually see Tower 42.
Duck & Waffle probably wins the prize for the most alarmingly close-up views of the Gherkin – you could peel the bugger from this fortieth-floor restaurant. It also boasts a breathtakingly swift lift ascent. Both of these things just add to the fun of this brilliant destination – and that’s before we remind you of its 24/7 opening policy and artery-taunting menu of indulgences. Diners can’t help but wander around the glass-panelled dining room to gawp at the panorama – the views from here are quite stunning, Gherkin included.
This cloud-grazing restaurant at the top of the Walkie Talkie – a sort of greenhouse on steroids – has amazing views of the city, day or night. You can see absolutely everything from here, and you’re almost encouraged to act like a complete loser and roam the restaurant in search of your street. With these vistas, Fenchurch’s kitchen doesn’t need to make any effort to pull in the punters – but it does anyway, with fine-dining dishes, tasting menus, and a stellar cellar (all top whack, obvs).
Hutong, halfway up the Shard, needs more than just a ‘ni hao’ of an introduction, unless you’re familiar with the the original in Hong Kong. A glitzy, high-end Chinese restaurant with an Old Beijing decor, it offers a menu of Sichuan and northern-Chinese dishes, with a side order of magnificent views. You’ll spend more than a pretty penny in the dining room – prices are as steep as the sides of the building – but spending a penny in the glass-sided loos is great fun (especially if you’re a man).
"Set lunch Monday to Friday, noon-3pm. Restaurant: two courses for £28, three courses for £32."
The folks at restaurant group D&D London are all over it when it comes to dress-to-impress London dining: Exhibit A is this riverside restaurant in Butler’s Wharf. As well as lovely views of Tower Bridge, Le Pont de la Tour boasts a smartly refurbished dining room (a brasserie-style best-of comprising richly coloured leather banquettes, plentiful mirrors and uber-flattering lighting), a sought-after terrace and a menu of French délices, from foie gras to fine de claire oysters, all jazzed up by a kitchen team fluent in fine dining.
Oblix was first past the post when the Shard opened, and the brains behind it – restaurateur Arjun Waney and executive chef Rainer Becker (who are best known for international foodie playground Zuma) – were against creating a sky-high version of their most famous export. Instead, they opted for a shiny, seamless, Manhattan-esque rotisserie restaurant where the A-listers of the meat, fish and vegetable worlds are given the charcoal-grilled, wood-fired and spit-roasted treatment. The views are spectacular – how many actual Londoners get to see them is another matter...
"Book your table now for Valentine's Day – Champagne, live music and impeccable views will accompany your romantic set menu."
The Oxo Tower is a London landmark, and its restaurants – a dining room and brasserie, and a bar, too – emanate a fitting sense of (just about) affordable occasion. A glass frontage makes the most of the river views if you’re sat indoors, and the plum vantage point allows you to fully appreciate the splendour of St Paul’s. Cooking has an adventurous global slant, and in the evening your meal might be accompanied by a jazz trio (make of that what you will).
Drink in more views in London bars
Cocktails shouldn’t taste better at altitude, but somehow they do – especially when that extra height guarantees that you’re also drinking in sensational views of London. So whether it's a special occasion or you're just wanting to get high in the capital, here are our top London bars with a view.
The Yacht London
The clue's in the name here - it's on a yacht, moored on The Thames. The views on a good day are therefore certainly pretty pleasant, with the window seats offering an uninterrupted vista out across to the South Bank. The food here ranges from sharing platters (think mackerel pâté with toasted sourdough, potted crayfish tails with mini loaf, and ribs in a BBQ sauce) and starters of pan-fried squid with chilli and lemon, and game terrine with pickled veg and a beetroot and horseradish cream to mains of lamb rump, slow-roasted pork belly, roasted grouse and duck breast served with a juniper and madeira sauce. The grill serves steaks, burgers and spatchcock poussin, too. Sunday roasts prove popular, as do afternoon teas featuring freshly-baked scones and cakes alongside a selection of finger sandwiches. Keep an eye out for special offers and seasonal events, too.
"Valentine's Day 3 Course Dinner & Wine £100 for 2"