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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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Okay, it's winter. But that doesn't mean you have to spend every night cooped up inside in stuffy, packed out pubs and bars. Some of our favourite London bars and restaurants have created gorgeous (and surprisingly cosy) spots for outdoor socialising. 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.

Recommended: London's most cosy pubs

London restaurants and bars for outdoor dining in winter

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.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • St Paul’s
  • price 1 of 4

Escape to a woodland wonderland (well, kinda) with this whimsical pop-up from City bar The Happenstance. Its heated, covered terrace is decked out in green foliage, lanterns, cosy blankets, and wooden mushroom decorations: #cottagecore for thirsty City workers. There are also three warming Tanqueray gin winter cocktails on the menu, including a spiced apple hot toddy.

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  • Things to do
  • London Bridge

London Bridge's street food hangout Vinegar Yard isn't letting chilly temperatures stand in its way this winter: it's turning its garden into a weather-ready hangout spot with a roof canopy, heaters, and wooden cabins. Perfect for tucking into a Bad Boys Pizza or a burger from Nanny Bill's.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Broadgate
  • price 2 of 4

Ditch the wintry kitsch at Yauatcha City's futuristic outdoor terrace. This sleek dim sum and cocktails joint has been transformed into a vision of London's future, using blue LED lights, projections, and otherworldly floral arrangements. It's all in celebration of Johnny Walker's Cities of the Future 200th anniversary bottles, which imagine what life could look like in two hundred years time. The cocktails are on theme too, including a 23rd century sour (featuring Johnny Walker Black label infused with butter and vanilla) and a yuzu-scented hot maple toddy. 

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It’s not Christmas in London if there aren’t igloos, right? Right indeed. Well a new winter rooftop bar and restaurant opened up this month, with igloos big enough to fit 20 people in each, as well as two floors of huge heated terrace spaces. You’ll be surrounded by fairylights, candle-lit trees and festive foliage, and you can book out the igloos, which were launched in collab with whisky brand Johnnie Walker Blue, for your very own cocktail and canapé night. But the best part? There’s 360-degree views, so you can dine on roast Atlantic cod and braised beef cheek while admiring London’s landmarks. 

Want to get seriously cosy? This new cocktail and food terrace is designed to give you a proper break from it all. The kind of place where you can nurse your martini without the waiter glaring at you to make space for the next customer. Opening November 18 off of the Rosewood London, the courtyard terrace is a swanky, decadent little spot with a focus on good food, cocktails and whisky (it’s a collab with whisky brand Glenfiddich). You get to it through an illuminated tunnel, and inside you can dine on hearty game pie and smoked salmon roulettes with caviar while surrounded by visual projections on the walls. Cosy. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary Global
  • King’s Cross
  • price 3 of 4

Cosy up next to a fire pit at The Standard hotel's outdoor terrace, which is adorned with fairy lights and plenty of autumnal greenery. Isla's executive chef Guy Betteridge will sweeten the deal with menu items including Devonshire crab tagliolini, rib eye steak, or warm cinnamon doughnuts for afters.

  • Restaurants
  • Moorgate
  • price 3 of 4

The winter igloo is a strange but nonetheless entirely welcome addition to London’s dining scene. These ones at rooftop bar Aviary might be the most swanky of igloo offerings for the months ahead; there's fondue on the menu, magnificent views, and some of them even have chaise longue seating. Good news if you like gin: they’re serving Monkey 47 cocktails inside.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Bloomsbury

The outlook is frosty with a chance of vodka at Dalloway Terrace (yes, named after the Virginia Woolf character). The outdoor dining fixture at the Bloomsbury Hotel changes its look with the seasons – it’s just that chic. This year, it’s partnered with Chase Distillery to bring you ‘The Enchanted Wonderland’, with a whole lot of forest foliage on the walls, and all the hot festive drinks - think sloe mulled wine and an apple and rhubarb gin toddy. 

  • Bars and pubs
  • St Paul’s

Fancy drinks with one helluva 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 Kah Blanco tequila create Mexican-tinged cocktails that'll bring the sunshine.

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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.

  • 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.

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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.

 

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Liverpool Street

This year, Old Bengal Bar has gone for an English winter garden vibe on its heated terrace. Think wild flowers, fur blankets, fairylights and a huge Christmas tree, but with the distinct feeling that you’re actually in someone’s back garden. Their festive menu features oysters, fillet steak tartare, and those all important salmon blinis. Not to be confused with bellinis - though they sell those too. Rose and raspberry ones. 

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

While the King’s Cross hotel is often known for its summer cocktail terrace, it turns out 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 - and that all-important retractable weather-proofed awning. 

  • 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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