July 2019: We’ve just added the Searcys-run Helix at The Gherkin – it's not perfect, but you can't fault the views.
What‘s the point of eating out if you‘re just looking at your plate? Dine like a demigod at these sky-high restaurants and cafés – we've included ground-dwelling joints with stunning backdrops, too. From jaw-dropping views of the Shard, to Tower Bridge, to a glittering lake in Victoria Park, London's the most beautiful city in the world (yes we‘re biased), and if you fancy a panorama with your pizza you've come to the right place.
London restaurants with a view
Aqua’s low-lit restaurant on Level 31 of the Shard is at just the right height for visitors who want 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 reflected on the water below. Stop by the dining room for a raft of contemporary British flavours, or the more casual lounge space for a spot of afternoon tea.
A long-time favourite, the Blueprint Café would be a destination for its setting alone: huge windows look out over the Thames and Tower Bridge, while a retractable canopy lends a great inside/outside feel to the dining room (it’s part of The Design Museum, after all). Dishes from the Brit-accented seasonal menu are beautiful to behold, but never twee.
Boundary is no City skyscraper, but its bar and grill provide a year-round roof space tailor-made for whiling away a few idle hours. Soak up some rays on the terrace or get cosy under the weatherproof pergola in winter; otherwise, order from a menu of Mediterranean small plates and act like you’re on hols among the pretty citrus trees and twinkling lights.
Up on the twenty-fourth floor of Tower 42, Jason Atherton’s high-rise City outpost is another of those swanky establishments that the all-conquering restaurateur does so well. During the week you may be overwhelmed by about boozy business hordes, but that’s a small price to pay for such all-enveloping wraparound views of the metropolis – bag one of the covetable booths if possible.
Boasting one of the biggest riverside terraces in London, Coppa Club occupies a prime spot with Tower Bridge in near-sight and The Shard just opposite. Whether you’re in the restaurant, café or central bar, tall windows mean you can soak up the view even when it’s too chilly for alfresco. To eat? Sourdough pizzas, pastas and grills.
Near the top of the Walkie Talkie, this all-day brasserie promises jaw-dropping views of London – and it’s much quicker to book a table here than wait for your turn in the Sky Garden itself. The menu offers the sort of accomplished dishes you find in high-end business hotels but expect to pay through the nose for the privilege of admiring the cityscape.
High up on the fortieth floor of Heron Tower, Duck & Waffle wins the prize for the most alarmingly close-up views of the Gherkin imaginable. Diners wander around the glass-panelled dining room to gawp at the panorama – and that’s before we remind you of D&W’s 24/7 opening and its artery-taunting gastronomic indulgences.
At the summit of the Walkie Talkie’s greenhouse on steroids, Sky Garden’s cloud-gazing flagship restaurant comes complete with amazing views of the city, day or night. With vistas like these, the kitchen can’t help but pull in the punters, although it responds in style with upscale dishes, tasting menus and a stellar wine cellar.
Chris Galvin’s Michelin-starred gaff on the twenty-eighth floor of the view-tastic London Hilton Park Lane is part of the old guard, and can sometimes get overlooked in favour of shinier, more misshapen newcomers. However, it’s a doozy if you want to treat out-of-towners to a meal with a view – especially as the fancy-pants French-inflected menu gets it just right.
‘Street food, booze and panoramic City views’ is the deal at this big shiny box on a low-rise Canary Wharf rooftop – a seven-days-a-week fun-time arena from the team behind Dinerama. Like a cross between an airport lounge and a nightclub, Giant Robot is home to four traders, and also has access to the Wharf’s glorious ‘rooftopia’.
Venue says Watch the Premier League and Champions League live at Giant Robot. Grab a beer and settle in for the match.
It’s all about the epic 180-degree views at this Searcys-run restaurant high up on the 39th floor of the Gherkin. At night, London looks like Gotham City, but come for the decent-value
set lunch and you can still take in the river and the bustling streets below. We may have a few misgivings about the soulless vibe, the canteen-style seating and the uneven British-themed cooking, but nothing beats those dizzying vistas.
Halfway up the Shard, Hutong needs more than just a ‘ni hao’ of an introduction, unless you’re familiar with the original in Hong Kong. A glitzy, high-end Chinese restaurant with Old Beijing decor, it offers upscale regional food with a side order of magnificent views. Be warned: prices are as steep as the sides of the building.
The folks at D&D London are all over it when it comes to dress-to-impress London dining. As well as sweeping views of Tower Bridge and beyond, this smartly refurbished riverside beauty touts a sought-after terrace, a conventional brasserie-style Bar & Grill and a posh restaurant majoring in elaborately plated modern dishes with an international flavour.
Venue says Our Truffle Hut is back! It's cosy interiors and show-stopping truffle menu make it the perfect spot for a romantic meal à deux!
Arguably the least-publicised restaurant-with-a-view in the capital, Chinese aristocrat Min Jiang resides on the tenth floor of the Royal Garden Hotel. Its long dining room gives a panorama of Hyde Park, although all eyes quickly turn to the house speciality – whole Beijing duck served two ways, including pancakes and all that jazz (trust us, you won’t taste better in London).
First past the post when the Shard opened, Oblix comes on like a shiny Manhattan-esque rotisserie hotspot restaurant where A-list ingredients are given the charcoal-grilled, wood-fired and spit-roasted treatment. Up on Level 32, it’s famed for its spectacular views – although how many actual Londoners get to see them is another matter...
Oxo Tower is a bona fide London landmark, so it’s no surprise that its in-house restaurant, brasserie and bar emanate a sense of occasion. A glass frontage makes the most of the river views, and the plum vantage point allows you to fully appreciate the splendour of St Paul’s. The food has an adventurous global slant, with accompaniment from a jazz trio in the evening.
Plateau’s stylish interior name-drops with the best of them (Saarinen tables, Arco lights etc etc), while the dining room’s glass and metal façade affords views of Canary Wharf’s architectural icons. However, this restaurant/grill/bar hybrid on the fourth floor of Canada Place isn’t just a designer showroom for the moneyed classes; the refined Euro-accented menu more than passes muster.
Proof-positive that you don’t have to get high to enjoy a view. From the windows of this smart but low-key museum restaurant, you can take in glimpses of Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column and Big Ben, all without breaking the budget. Our tip? Come early and enjoy a civilised brunch while watching London getting into its stride.
OK, it’s not a bracing Cornish seascape, but we doubt you’ll be disappointed by the views from this first London outpost of Rick Stein’s empire. Ask for a window table to make the most of the Thames-side vistas while gorging on plates of messy, finger-lickin’ Singapore crab and other favourites from the TV chef’s worldwide travels.
Former Ramsay lieutenant Mark Sargeant has moved up the ranks and now gives the orders in this punningly named café/diner tucked under the Tower of London’s time-worn walls. View-seekers should repair to the terrace for spiffing views of the Thames and (of course) Tower Bridge, while fans of fun-loving British victuals are in for a treat.
A fail-safe on the first floor of the Royal Festival Hall, Skylon’s wow-inducing views of the Thames and the South Bank make it a permanently spectacular venue, day or night. If your finances won’t stretch to a three-course extravaganza in the brasserie-style Grill or the Restaurant, opt for a drink in the chic cocktail lounge that separates the two venues.
This multi-level food and drink hub next to Smithfield Market was recently relaunched by Young's pub group, and it now has a swish top-floor restaurant with lovely views of St Paul’s, The Shard and beyond. It's proper fine-dining on the breezy outdoor terrace, and most of the meat on the British menu comes from the adjacent market. For that reason, we say order the steak while you enjoy the view.
Occupying the heady heights of the Heron Tower, this Brazilian-Japanese dazzler might not be the building’s loftiest slot (that honour goes to its vertical neighbour Duck & Waffle), but it’s top dog when it comes to glitz. Just add thrilling expense-account fusion food, fab cocktails, premium sakes and stunning views – especially from the terrace. There's also a slightly-lower-to-the-ground location above Covent Garden market, with relaxing views of the cobblestones below and the tourists scrambling over them.
Venue says SUSHISAMBA delivers a unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, culture, music and striking design to the City of London.
It’s not sky-high, but The Swan nevertheless gives great views – provided you bag a table near the windows. The Thames and St Paul’s take pride of place, although the beauty of this venue is its inclusiveness: you get clear sight of the riverside highlights, but also feel part of the bustling walkway. There’s a bang-on Brit-accented menu too.
Of course, there’s plenty of artistic eye candy on show at Tate Modern, but perch at the long counter in its Level 1 café and you’ll also be treated to up-close views of a different sort – the Thames, London’s skyline and St Paul’s are all within sight. Food-wise, expect no-frills sustenance in a genial setting of bright lights and wipe-clean tables.
A contemporary European restaurant on Level 9 of the Tate Modern's Blatvanik Building, this spot offers sweeping views of the city from the South Bank. It's a much more formal space than that of the Level 1 café below. We can't attest to the quality of the food yet, but if you're in the Tate and after a meal more substantial than a packaged sandwich, it could be a worthy stop.
Yes, it’s another hotel dining room – but what a hotel (imagine Shangri-La and ooh-la-la all rolled into one). Ting is the highest dining option in the Shard, and it will probably also land you with the highest bill in return for a roster of posh Asian-inspired dishes. You could be anywhere – until you catch a glimpse of London’s unmistakable skyline.
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