After four months spent staring largely at our own four walls, we’re keen to see as much of London as possible.
So when picking a restaurant, why not think outside the box – or more importantly, outside the window.
The capital is not only blessed with an impressive skyline, bucolic parks, and plenty of river, but also a plethora of top restaurants that allow you to dine while bathing in their aesthetic glory.
There’s no time like the post-lockdown present, so we’ve listed a selection of vista-blessed restaurants that are open in the capital. We’ve also noted some similar favourites that haven’t quite reopened to the public yet, and will update you with their opening dates as soon as we can.
From skyline-skimming party spots to idyllic bankside boltholes, here are some of the best restaurants with spectacular views in London.
They do say heat rises: Chinese restaurant Hutong is for thrill-seekers who love a bit of spice with their heights. Positioned on the 33rd level of The Shard – London’s tallest building by quite a stretch – a night at Hutong comes with a view of pretty much the entire city and its twinkling lights, as well as fiery pepper-packed Sichuan dishes. Head one level down at the Shard and you’ll find Aqua Shard and Oblix, a duo of restaurants with similarly stunning views and a little less numbing of the tongue.
Level 33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY, hutong.co.uk
Down the road and dropping only a few floors, The Hoxton’s rooftop restaurant Seabird also provides views from a dizzying height. The Iberian-influenced seafood hotspot in Southwark serves the capital’s largest selection of oysters on what might be its loveliest roof terrace, while those sat indoors can also enjoy gorgeous views thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Facing west means a glimpse of Big Ben, east the sight of The Shard, while looking north towards the river is dominated by One Blackfriars, or “The Boomerang”.
14th Floor, 40 Blackfriars Road, SE1 8NY, seabirdlondon.com
The London Shell Co on The Prince Regent
Dinner on board The Prince Regent with The London Shell Co means not one view, but countless. The barge-based restaurant runs cruising dinners, during which diners can enjoy expertly sourced British seafood dishes as they travel via the capital’s canals from Paddington to Camden and back again. From leafy canal paths to landmarks including London Zoo and Regent’s Park, dining here is to see the capital from a different perspective.
Sheldon Square, W2 6DL, londonshellco.com
Duck and Waffle
Possibly the best known of the City’s skyline-skimming restaurants, Duck and Waffle boasts not only 360 degree views of London, but also 24-hours-a-day to enjoy them in. The restaurant welcomes diners around the clock, allowing them to tuck into its eponymous dish – a confit duck leg and fried egg on a waffle with mustard maple syrup – from sunrise to sunset. Views of the Gherkin, a distant Canary Wharf and more are on hand, but be sure to sit near the window – it’s a little tricky to see its famous views from the centre of the dining room.
110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY, duckandwaffle.com
Le Pont de la Tour
Francophones will have already worked out what this restaurant’s USP is, but one look out the window should do it for the rest of us. This French restaurant in Shad Thames boasts a spectacular, postcard-worthy view of Tower Bridge from the south side of the river. The terrace is the prime spot for maximum gawping (even better when accompanied by champagne and a seafood platter), while inside by the window while an indoor spot by the window will do on a rainy day.
36D Shad Thames, SE1 2YE, lepontdelatour.co.uk
It’s not just London’s centre that boasts big views – Peckham can be just as picturesque when it wants to be. The pinnacle of visually striking dining in the area can be found at Forza Wine, the wine bar and snack top from the Forza Win team. Sunsets come with negronis, Italian wines, panzanella, chicken Milanese and Fontina toasties, as well as spectacular views from its spot on the rooftop of a former multi-storey car park.
133 Rye Lane, SE15 4BQ, forzawine.com
From the outside, the Walkie Talkie does little for the London skyline – and couples that with being very, very big. Heading inside is the answer: firstly, you can no longer see its inelegant silhouette, and secondly you can enjoy the fruits of the admittedly stunning Sky Garden at its summit. Here you’ll find the Darwin Brasserie, serving all-day dining amid its greenery and latticed glass roof, from which you can see the likes of The Shard (pretty up close and personal), HMS Belfast, City Hall and more.
Sky Garden, Level 36, 20 Philpot Lane, EC3M 8AF, skygarden.london
Rick Stein Barnes
Leave behind the hustle-and-bustle of the City for the riverside at Barnes, the setting for celebrated chef Rick Stein’s London restaurant. Inside a former coach house and steam engine shed, the seafood (what else?) spot makes the most of its enviable perch overlooking one of the leafiest sections of the Thames via an all-glass wall facing the waterside (again, a window seat beats the rest by far). A spot of Dover sole and a glass of wine overlooking Barnes Bridge or the former Mortlake Brewery is a bucolic treat.
Tideway Yard, 125 Mortlake High Street, SW14 8SN, rickstein.com
London landmarks don’t come much more impressive than St Paul’s Cathedral – and views of it don’t get much better than they do at Madison. The restaurant on the roof of One New Change boasts an outdoor terrace that is dominated at one end by a perfectly framed view of the 17th century marvel. Indoors, you can still see its world-famous dome from largely-glass walls that slant to maximise your view of the City’s skyline.
Rooftop Terrace, One New Change, EC4M 9AF, madisonlondon.net
Sam Harrison’s restaurant opened last year in an underappreciated riverside spot, blessed with leafy views of the Thames as it runs under the (now traffic-free) Hammersmith Bridge. This summer, the restaurant has gone one better and opened its own “Seafood Terrace” located towards the side of the building with one end sat right by the waterside, serving dishes such as grilled native lobster and an oyster-laden “Shuckers Platter”.
1 Crisp Road, W6 9DN, samsriverside.co.uk
Galvin at Windows
Windows by name, windows by nature: if your restaurant is situated 28 floors above Park Lane, make sure your diners know about it. This restaurant from Chris and Jeff Galvin – formerly home to First Dates maitre d’ Fred Sirieix and a Michelin star – boasts incredible views of Hyde, Green and St James, and then beyond to the likes of the London Eye and the City. Floor-to-ceiling windows making the most of them on all sides of the intimate dining room.
22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE, galvinatwindows.com
Restaurants with a view that are temporarily closed
City Social (Opens September) Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred restaurant boasts a perfectly framed view of the Gherkin. Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, EC2N 1HQ, citysociallondon.com
Tate Modern Kitchen and Bar Not the gallery’s flagship restaurant, but this casual spot has an enviable view across the Thames to St Paul’s. Level 6, Natalie Bell Building, Bankside, SE1 9TG, tate.org.uk
Min Jiang Sophisticated Chinese restaurant with high-flying views across Hyde Park. 2-24 Kensington High Street, W8 4PT, minjiang.co.uk
Sushisamba City In the same building as Duck and Waffle, but with a spectacular outdoor terrace and much bigger windows. 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY, sushisamba.com
Fenchurch Another restaurant at the Walkie-Talkie’s Sky Garden, a little higher end than Darwin Brasserie. 1 Sky Garden Walk, EC3M 8AF, skygarden.london
Decimo You’ll have to peek through the curtains to see them, but the 10th floor Mexican restaurant comes with impressive views of St Pancras station. 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG, decimo.london
Helix by Searcys The restaurant right at the top of the Gherkin possesses 360 views of the City. 30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8EP, searcysatthegherkin.co.uk
Blueprint Cafe Longstanding spot with elevated views of Tower Bridge and the Thames. Butlers Wharf, 28 Shad Thames, SE1 2YD, blueprintcafe.co.uk
Bokan 37 A dizzying 37 storeys above Canary Wharf, with views of the financial centre and beyond. 40 Marsh Wall, Isle of Dogs, E14 9TP, bokanlondon.co.uk
The Rooftop St James Hotel bar and kitchen with remarkable views of Trafalgar Square below, particularly from its outdoor terrace. 7th Floor, 2 Spring Gardens, SW1A 2TS, rooftopstjames.com