London restaurants with a view
Aqua’s low-lit restaurant on Level 31 of the Shard is at just the right height for visitors wanting 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. The menu offers a raft of contemporary British flavours.
Holed up in this self-proclaimed temple to meat, you’re almost nose-to-nose with St Paul’s. Originally established by Jamie Oliver and American BBQ maestro Adam Perry Lang, Barbecoa is all about animal protein – from properly hung steaks to slow-cooked riffs from the pit barbecue. The views and the concept are catnip to on-duty City suits and off-duty tourists alike.
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.
Venue says With west-facing views of the capital and sumptuous interiors, Fenchurch is fast becoming one of the hottest tables in London
‘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’.
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.
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.
Forget expensive eyries, this down-to-earth neighbourhood favourite scores with its views of a beautiful lake in the middle of east London’s bucolic Victoria Park. Tuck into a Sri Lankan brekkie while families play in pedalo boats, yoga bunnies flex by the Chinese pagoda and a fountain romantically spritzes at the centre of the whole shebang.
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.
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.
Venue says Enjoy seasonal modern-British cooking under the direction of our respected executive chef Kim Woodward.
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 sakés and stunning views – especially from the terrace.
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.
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.
Venue says Classic elegance and breathtaking views!
The fact that the Piccadilly branch of Waterstone’s has its very own top-floor café-cum-bar with views over the capital is cheering as well as surprising. If your wallet simply won’t shout you to one of the city’s more Instagrammable destinations, then head here for sturdy lunches, afternoon tea or cocktails and sharing platters.
From the off, there’s plenty to look at inside Heston Blumenthal’s bucket-list restaurant, whether you’re marvelling at plates of iconic ‘meat fruit’, peering into the glass-walled kitchen or merely celeb-spotting. However, the views of the Mandarin Oriental’s gardens and the grassy expanses of Hyde Park beyond are really pleasing – especially on a summer’s day.
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.
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.
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.