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Aqua Shard
David Cleveland

London restaurants with the best views

Great food and magnificent vistas for you to gaze at while you eat it

Edited by
Leonie Cooper
Written by
Chris Waywell
&
Joe Mackertich
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What’s the point of eating out if you’re just looking at your plate? Instead, we recommend dining like a demigod and staring down at your enemies from these sky-high restaurants and cafés – as well as a few ground-dwelling joints with some seriously stunning backdrops. From jawdropping views of (and from) The Shard, to Tower Bridge, and so much looking at the Thames you'll feel like you're a boat, London’s the most beautiful city in the world. Sure, we’re biased, but if you fancy a panorama with your pizza you’ve definitely come to the right place. 

RECOMMENDED: The best rooftop bars in London.  

London restaurants with a view

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Trafalgar Square
  • price 3 of 4

Helmed by Michelin-starred chef Richard Corrigan - head honcho of Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill, and thrice winner of The Great British Menu - everything about The Portrait is an oasis of unshowy opulence. Basically every London skyline landmark is visible at once from the bright, simple and airy restaurant space, and the menu is stonking, offering modern British delights with an emphasis on the light, fresh and seasonal.

 

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • South Bank
  • price 3 of 4

Taking up the top floor of the National Theatre, a building loved by 1960s architecture pervs, Forza Wine offers a Thames-side seat with some great cocktails, natty wine and delicious dinner options. There's a wonderful wraparound terrace, too, so we'd advise perching yourself here come summertime for an al fresco view across the South Bank. A stunner. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • King’s Cross

A hip Spanish-Mexican eatery located on the 10th floor of The Standard hotel and high above the Euston Road, you'll see the twinkling lights of town, as well at the dramatic St Pancras Renaissance Hotel while munching on your tortilla, jamon and croquettas. The views are, wildly, maybe the best from the lavs, where floor to ceiling glass windows offer a birds eye view of town from the bogs. 

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • London Bridge
  • price 4 of 4

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.

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Darwin Brasserie
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • City of London

Near the top of the Walkie Talkie, this all-day, 36th floor brasserie promises jawdropping 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 do expect to pay through the nose for the privilege of admiring the cityscape.

  • Restaurants
  • Haute cuisine
  • Park Lane

Chris Galvin’s Michelin-starred gaff on the 28th 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 winner 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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Peckham
  • price 2 of 4

Londoners continue to make the annual pilgrimage to this Peckham multi-storey car park for a Campari at Frank’s. Open from May until late September, the summer pop–up is known for its punchy cocktails, but there's a small kitchen too, which offers everything from brisket buns and lamb kebabs to pineapple & scotch bonnet hot wings and whipped cod roe & radishes. Best of all? It's a darn sight more affordable that most of London's sky-high dining spots.

Skylon
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • South Bank
  • price 3 of 4

A failsafe 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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Wine bars
  • Peckham
  • price 2 of 4

Before the South Bank outpost of Forza Wine came this, the Peckham original. There's an outdoor, bench-filled terrace but also an indoor area with tall tables and glass doors revealing that sensational south London skyline. Up on the fifth floor of a co-working space/food hall, the Italian-ish menu is as tasty as the views; sharing dishes of burrata with orange and hazelnuts, cauliflower fritti and braised lamb. 

Rick Stein
  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Barnes
  • price 3 of 4

Okay, it’s not a bracing Cornish seascape, but we doubt you’ll be disappointed by the views from this London outpost of Rick Stein’s empire. Ask for a window table to make the most of the Thames vistas while gorging on Indonesian seafood curry and other favourites from the TV chef’s worldwide travels.

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Sushisamba
  • Restaurants
  • Brazilian
  • Liverpool Street

Occupying the heady heights of the Heron Tower's 38th and 39th floors, 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.

City Social
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • City of London

Up on the 24th 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 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.

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Min Jiang
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Kensington
  • price 3 of 4

Arguably the least-publicised restaurant-with-a-view in the capital, Chinese aristocrat Min Jiang resides on the 10th 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).

Helix at The Gherkin
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • City of London
  • price 4 of 4

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.

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  • Restaurants
  • British
  • South Bank
  • price 3 of 4

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 across the Thames. The food has an adventurous global slant, with accompaniment from a jazz trio in the evening.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Shoreditch

Boundary is no City skyscraper, but its bar and grill provide a year-round roof space tailor-made for whiling away a pleasant few 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.

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Fenchurch Restaurant
  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • City of London

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 Caribbean-accented dishes and a stellar wine cellar.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Liverpool Street

High up on the 40th 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.

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Swan at the Globe
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • South Bank
  • price 3 of 4

It’s not sky-high, but The Swan nevertheless has 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.

Coppa Club
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Tower Hill
  • price 2 of 4

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, the tall windows mean you can soak up the view even when it’s too chilly for alfresco. To eat? Sourdough pizzas, pastas and grills.

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Hutong
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary Asian
  • London Bridge
  • price 4 of 4

Halfway up the Shard, Hutong is a glitzy, high-end Chinese restaurant with Old Beijing decor. Dine on upscale regional food with a side order of magnificent views. Be warned: prices are as steep as the sides of the building.

Le Pont de la Tour
  • Restaurants
  • Grills
  • Tower Bridge

As well as sweeping views of Tower Bridge and beyond, this smartly decorated 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.

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  • Restaurants
  • London Bridge

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 enjoy them is another matter...

  • Restaurants
  • London Bridge
  • price 2 of 4

Yes, it’s another hotel dining room – but what a hotel (imagine Shangri-La and oh-là-là rolled into one). Ting is the highest dining option in the Shard – find it on level 35 – 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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