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hawk's nest
Photograph: Hawk’s Nest

Outdoor drinking and dining terraces in London cosy enough for winter

Wintry decor, festive food, hot booze and those all-important heaters. These outdoor restaurants and bars are perfect for staying snug and warm

Angela Hui
Written by
Laura Richards
Written by
Angela Hui
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It is cold, so cold. Head to the nearest cosy outdoor space in London immediately. Luckily, some of our favourite bars and restaurants have been thinking on their frozen feet. So wrap up warm and check out these new outdoor terraces for drinking and dining decked out in wintry decor and adorned with roaring fire pits, patio heaters and enough faux fur to make you think you got stuck in the wardrobe on your way into Narnia. 

London restaurants and bars for outdoor dining in winter

  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • South Bank
  • price 4 of 4

See the northern lights from one of the best spots in London where you can see beautiful views of the city. This year Sea Containers is teaming up with Icelandic vodka Reyka and they’ve transormed their terrace into a aurora borealis wonderland complete with faux-fur thorws, sheepskikn blankets and a Nordic cabin photobooth. As for drinks, wrap your lips around festive cocktails such as Björk martini, gingerbread yule mule, fire and ice spiced oat milk and arctic collins.

  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Ladbroke Grove

Nab your own outdoor ‘pavilion’ by Regent’s Canal. They’re little tents outside Flora restaurant each one with room for six. The experience is more like glamping than Glasto, with curated artworks hanging on the inside of each canvas and some serious tablescaping to contend with, too. Outside your tent, fire pits are blazing – and chefs use the flames for some of the dishes. Pure fire.  

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Soho
  • price 3 of 4

Take refuge from the chaos of central London down below and head for the skies at Aqua Kyoto, which sits high above on Oxford Street. Kick back, order from a selection of carefully crafted cocktails like the shiso sour alongside some damn fine bar snacks. Most importantly, the autumnal-looking Fuyu Terrace is heated and covered to protect you from the elements.

 

Like many a cool thing in London, The Hawk’s Nest occupies a converted railway arch and goods yard. The indoor-outdoor space in Shepherd’s Bush has been decorated like a winter woodland and allows for 120 seated guests under its winter-ready roof. There are heaters, should you be worried about the chill, plus cocktails to warm the cockles including a Toffee Apple Mulled Cider. And just in time for Christmas, the Nest has launched its own Sunday market selling gifts from local makers.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Breweries
  • Hackney Wick
  • price 2 of 4

Normally, this canalside spot is where you want to be in the summer, drinking brewery-fresh beers, boarding a cocktail canal barge and generally just soaking up the Hackney Wick waterside rays. But now it’s the place to be in winter. There are fire pits and little wooden shacks for shelter. Besides, those beers are great all year round.

  • Restaurants
  • Moorgate
  • price 3 of 4

Never did we want to seal our bubble off from the rest of the world more than we did this year. That’s why we welcome the return of the winter igloo to London’s dining scene. These ones at rooftop bar Aviary might be the most swanky of igloo offerings for the months ahead; some of them even have chaise longue seating. Good news if you like gin: they’re serving Tanqueray cocktails inside, with the option of going bottomless, too.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Bloomsbury

The outlook is frosty with a chance of vodka at Dalloway Terrace. The outdoor dining fixture at the Bloomsbury Hotel changes its look with the seasons – it’s just that chic. Live out your Doctor Zhivago fantasy by booking a table in among the white fronds and sheepskin furs. They’re serving everything out here, from breakfast and brunch through to afternoon tea – with Belvedere cocktails being poured regardless of the time of day.

  • Bars and pubs
  • St Paul’s

Fancy drinks with one hellova view? Head to Madison’s cosy winter rooftop retreat that overlooks the glorious baroque St Paul's cathedral. Decked out in sophisticated gold decorations, a giant bauble-covered sleigh, frosty winter foliage, comfy sofas and heaters. As for the drinks? They’ve teamed with Bulleit bourbon to create a limited-edition cocktail menu with a variety of warming whiskies. 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • King’s Cross
  • price 2 of 4

While we’ll never forget the King’s Cross hotel bar for getting us through a very weird summer with ingenious Aperol slushies, it seems the terrace is here for us in all the seasons. For the colder months, it’s added a fire pit a million times better than the one you got for your garden via Amazon, plus sheepskins draped around the place for extra comfort. Who needs Aperol, anyway?

  • Restaurants
  • Greek
  • Marylebone

Ever heard of rakomelo? It’s a warm tipple that Opso is pitching as Greece’s answer to mulled wine. A visit to its covered outdoor terrace might not transport you to Athens itself, but dishes on the menu include mousaka, lamb shank and pork stifado. Pretty substantial stuff. Grab a seat next to a flickering flame heater, cover yourself with a blanket and order in a round of those drinks and your cockles will be rocked, Acropolis-style.

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