What better way to absorb the sights and sounds of the capital than from one of the many London restaurants with great views? From sky-high settings to watch a sunset through to down to earth restaurants with scenic backdrops while you dine. 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…).
Venue says: “Spend your lunch break at Barbecoa and enjoy our seasonally changing lunch and early supper menus; two courses for £30 or three for £35.”
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.
Venue says: “Nestled on the first floor, Blueprint Café has magnificent views overlooking Tower Bridge and the City to the west.”
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.
Boundary isn’t a towering City building by any stretch, but its bar and grill provides a year-round roof space from which to while away the hours while overlooking the comings and goings of the buzzy neighbourhood. It’s not squashed in by skyscrapers, so you can soak up some rays on the terrace in summer or get cosy under the weatherproof pergola in winter. Order from a menu of Mediterranean small plates and act like you’re on hols in among the pretty citrus trees and twinkling lights.
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.
This restaurant comes with one of the biggest riverside terraces going in London and it’s in quite the prime position too, with Tower Bridge in near-sight and The Shard just opposite. Tall glass windows mean that you can still soak up the view when it’s a bit too chilly for al fresco dining. Explore a menu of modern European grub from the grill as fervently as the selfie-stick wielding tourists touring the sights in the distance.
This all-day brasserie near the top of the Walkie Talkie offers jaw-dropping views of London – and it’s much quicker to book a table here than wait for your turn in the Sky Garden (man, that waiting list is huge). The menu offers accomplished yet anonymous dishes of the sort you find in high-end business hotels – but that’s not to say it doesn’t all taste delish. You pay through the nose for this view, so first consider how desperate you are to see the whole of London at once, in miniature.
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.
Venue says: “Meet the Winemaker dinner series: visit our website and join us for an exclusive evening of bespoke dishes, wine pairings and tasting notes!”
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).
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.