Like your dinner with a view? There’s nothing like a good panorama to admire as you enjoy your meal. From sky-high dining at The Shard to off-the-beaten-track riverside pubs, here’s our pick of restaurants with the best views in London…
No list of restaurants with the best views in London would be complete without some mention of The Shard: the city’s tallest building, towering 306m above ground. Half way up on the 31st floor you’ll find Aqua, an upscale, stylish spot with floor-to-ceiling windows. Nab a table beside one of them for a truly breathtaking dining experience – particularly at night, when the London panorama is lit up with thousands of twinkling lights. The menu offers a selection of contemporary British dishes made with fresh ingredients and luxurious flavours, including starters like beetroot heritage salad with candied hazelnuts; and marinated yellowfin tuna served with avocado cream, Bloody Mary jelly and compressed cucumber. For mains, there are a number of meat and fish dishes to choose from, all cooked to perfection – we recommend the lamb, tasty and tender and served with a cocoa bean stew, yoghurt and burnt aubergine. Enjoy alongside one of the freshly-muddled cocktails, courtesy of the centrepiece bar, and expect great service, with friendly, helpful staff to make your Shard experience all the more amazing. Unsurprisingly the sky-high location comes with a price tag to match, but it’s the perfect place for special occasions.
In recent years London has grown taller, with skyscrapers popping up all over the shop. Tower 42, however, is the original: opened in 1940, it stood as the UK’s tallest building for a decade. While its title has been usurped since then, the views from its 24th floor bar and restaurant City Social are pretty spectacular, particularly from its front row seats: curved booths pressed right up to the windows. A glamorous, Art Deco-style spot, City Social – part of the Jason Atherton empire – is far bigger than one might assume from its tucked away entrance. The space is divided into two sections: the restaurant, and the bar, Social 24, which re-opened last year as a separate entity. In the restaurant, Executive Chef Paul Walsh serves up a selection of beautifully presented Michelin-starred dishes, while Social 24 offers a smaller bar food menu – although it’s important to note this is worlds away from your average bar snack selection. The menu includes a rib-eye steak, as well as a cote de boeuf for two, alongside a number of small plates including some delicious goats cheese churros and avocado tempura bites with a spicy aubergine dip. Drinks-wise, colourful cocktails are the star of the show: we recommend ‘One More’, a mix of Absolute Elyx Vodka with blood orange, vanilla syrup, egg yolk and champagne, served with a smoked marshmallow; and ‘Punch Me If You Can’, a fruity gin-based drink blended with hibiscus tea, strawberries, grapefruit and green chartreuse. With its low lighting and widely spaced tables, Social 24 makes the perfect date venue, while its Michelin-starred neighbour is ideal for special occasions. Be sure to book a window booth for maximum awe factor.
The newest offering from the Bourne & Hollingsworth Group, pretty restaurant Garden Room is perched on a rooftop in the heart of London’s West End. Vast floor to ceiling windows provide spectacular views of the city, with iconic landmarks like The London Eye and The Shard right there in front of you. The interiors are equally impressive, with a jungle of plants dotted around, fully-grown trees, white-washed floors and wicker furnishings. Cocktails take inspiration from the garden theme with floral hints – ‘Gimble’ for instance is a blend of Four Roses bourbon, dandelion and nettle cordial. Enjoy a seasonal, brasserie-style meal among the plants, with dishes such as cod with braised puy lentils, roast cherry tomatoes & salsa verde, and slow cooked spiced lamb with prunes, chilli & coriander & sweet potato mash. A great spot for date night.
Off-the-beaten-track gastropub The Gun is a bit of a walk from Canary Wharf, but it’s well worth going slightly out of your way for. Perched right on the Thames, the stylish pub boasts lovely views of the 02 and Greenwich – particularly from its waterside terrace, which fills up quickly during the summer months. Despite undergoing a lengthy refurbishment earlier this year, The Gun maintains its history and heritage, with long-cherished features such as open fires and wooden panelling. Head there on a Sunday afternoon for a tasty roast with a view.
At Duck & Waffle the fun begins in the lifts, which feel like you’re shooting up into the sky. One of London’s highest restaurants, it’s located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, and being open 24/7 means you can catch the stunning panoramic views whenever you fancy. It’s the kind of place people go to be seen – but it’s smaller and less showy than its sister SUSHISAMBA, which sits a few floors below. Duck & Waffle makes the perfect special occasion dinner spot, but it’s equally magical for an early breakfast as the sun rises over the sleeping city. Their titular dish is an interesting combination: two fluffy waffles topped with crisp-skinned duck confit and a fried duck egg, drizzled in maple syrup – sounds strange, but it’s surprisingly tasty. Reserve a table well in advance if you’re going on a weekend, push for one by the window and pray for clear skies.
Thanks to its prime location right beside the River Thames, French restaurant Le Pont De La Tour offers picture-perfect views from all angles, day and night. The space used to be a warehouse complex, but in 1991 it was transformed into a luxury dining spot by Terence Conran. Food-wise, expect a blend of traditional and innovative French cuisine, with dishes such as confit chicken leg with black garlic, pancetta and celeriac purée and cep risotto with truffle cream cheese, king oyster mushroom and wild rocket. During the summer the large outdoor terrace is the place to be, but in the colder months opt for one of the indoor table windows.
One of London’s older rooftop restaurants, the OXO Tower is at a lower altitude than its City counterparts – but it proves height isn’t always everything. From this slightly lower vantage point, diners can watch boats drift by along the meandering river while enjoying seasonal British dishes. Highlights include the sea bass, served with squid ink linguine, buttered kale, razor clam and Champagne sauce, and the stuffed loin of lamb with truffle gnocchi, pickled girolles and chestnut purée.
Like it’s taller sister Duck & Waffle, the spectacle of the iconic SUSHISAMBA Liverpool Street begins from the panoramic glass lifts, which whisk you up to the 38th and 39th floors of the Heron Tower where the restaurant is located. It boasts one of the highest outdoor dining terraces in Europe, but during the winter months you can admire the views from indoors thanks to the restaurant’s three glass walls. A glamorous New York City import, the menu fuses together Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisines, and you can guarantee great sushi, cracking cocktails and a buzzing atmosphere.
Located on floor 36 of the iconic Walkie Talkie, the views from the Darwin Brasserie are pretty striking. Although Fenchurch Restaurant – one of Sky Garden’s other offerings – is higher, the Darwin Brasserie has better views thanks to its position further back from the Sky Garden’s atrium roof. A good option if you want to enjoy the sights without the flocks of camera totting tourists.
It may be a lesser known spot, but Chinese restaurant Min Jiang, perched on the tenth floor of the Royal Garden Hotel, boasts one of the best views in London. A hidden gem overlooking the picturesque Kensington Gardens, Min Jiang is renowned for its impeccable service, as well as its picture-perfect vista. Go for the house duck: a whole Beijing duck served two ways, the first with homemade pancakes, and the second a dish of your choice – fried rice, with diced or minced duck and a lettuce wrap. One of London’s finest Chinese restaurants, with magnificent views to match.
With its collection of Instagram-friendly riverside igloos, Coppa Club makes the perfect spot for winter alfresco dining. Positioned next to Tower Bridge and close to The Shard, the views from here are best at night, when the city is illuminated with twinkling lights. Book ahead to secure yourself a spot in one of the igloos, or set up camp inside, where big glass windows ensure beautiful riverside views. Food options include everything from pizzas to vegan burgers to small sharing plates, all very reasonably priced, which you can enjoy alongside some of the tasty cocktails on offer. Though the winter igloos are set to end their season soon, last year they reopened as ‘paradise pods’ for the summer – and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for something similar for 2019.
A less flashy, more old-school option, Galvin at Windows has years of experience in providing impeccable service to its diners. Situated on the 28th floor of the London Hilton on Park Lane, the restaurant overlooks Hyde Park, with views of the city’s skyscrapers and landmarks like the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. As befits a Michelin-starred restaurant, the food is delicious and beautifully presented, with a modern French menu courtesy of Chef Patron Chris Galvin.
Found on the 37th floor of a Novotel in Canary Wharf, Bōkan is far from your average chain hotel restaurant. Split across three level floors, the 360 views are striking from all angles – even from the bathroom. Chef Aurélie Altemaire heads up the kitchen, which serves a menu of modern European dishes alongside vibrant cocktails.
READ MORE: Best Special Occasion Restaurants in London
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