Updated 29th August 2019
Bar Boulud Garden Terrace at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Knightsbridge
Best outdoor dining space in London for: views over London's leafy Hyde Park, lashings of champagne and five-star service.
Following the hotel's much-anticipated £100 million relaunch, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park has unveiled an exquisite new garden terrace, which is an expansion of its popular Bar Boulud bistro. On a sunny day, settle in on the impeccably manicured stretch of lawn, which is the only al fresco space on Hyde Park's Royal South Carriage drive, and work through an impressive wine and champagne list while enjoying iconic views of London. There is a £45 three-course set menu, as well as the restaurant's usual bounty of decadent small plates.
12-7.30pm, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
Petersham Nurseries Café
Best outdoor dining space in London for: leisurely lunches in a tranquil greenhouse.
Want to get out of London without, well, actually leaving the city? Petersham Nurseries Café is the capital’s worst-kept secret, and while it looks lovely all year round (the restaurant is in a greenhouse), it comes into its own around June. Bougainvillea blossoms and British ingredients such as asparagus and peashoots increasingly appear on the ‘slow food’ menu, garnished with garden-grown edible flowers and washed down with a Sussex-brewed beer. Book ahead and clear some space on your camera roll before you arrive.
Off Church Lane, Petersham Road, Richmond TW10 7AB, petershamnurseries.com
The River Café, Hammersmith
Best outdoor dining space in London for: easygoing, excellent Italian cuisine in a sun-dappled, tranquil garden.
The River Café is leisurely stretched out over a lawn overlooking the Thames, just like we'd like to be after a bottle of rosé and one or two courses more than was strictly necessary. This London institution was founded by chefs Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray in 1987, their restaurant has become a byword for easygoing, excellent Italian, with easygoing, excellent people at its helm. People would flock here even if the location wasn't so inviting, such is the ingredients-driven expertise in the kitchen, but it just so happens that the sun-dappled garden has a dreamlike quality, too. An evening at the River Café is truly restorative (although that second bottle won't be) and utterly charming.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, Hammersmith, London W6 9HA, rivercafe.co.uk
The Mandrake, Fitzrovia
Best outdoor dining space in London for: greenery hanging from every angle. You'll come for the view and stay for the food.
The foliage-filled Mandrake in Fitzrovia has relaunched its Jurema Bar for summer, adjoined to the Yopo restaurant on the first floor of the five-star hotel. Flanked by hanging jasmine and passionflower, this mesmerising urban oasis serves an impressive offering of summer-perfect cocktails, alongside moreish bar snacks with a Mexican twist. Upstairs, there is a charming glasshouse of medicinal and botanical plants, which can be booked for private dining.
20-21 Newman Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1PG, themandrake.com
Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone
Best outdoor dining space in London for: people-watching and the renowned oyster cart.
Helmed by infamous hotelier André Balazs, the sizzling Chiltern Firehouse matches elegance and sophistication with a mischievous dash of ‘anything goes’ attitude. Settle in on the secluded yet lively summer terrace for platters of fruit de mer, signature crab doughnuts and tender Ibérico pork. The stylish al fresco space is framed with greenery with striped parasols overhead, ensuring complete discretion and privacy.
1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7PA, chilternfirehouse.com
The Chelsea Courtyard
Best outdoor dining space in London for: a secluded suntrap near the King's Road, filled with pretty flowers.
Nestled on Sydney Street, the Chelsea Courtyard has reopened for summer 2019, serving all-day food and drinks. Away from the bustle of the King's Road, this hidden courtyard is a showcase for the neighbouring Chelsea Gardener flagship and is suitably decked out with planters, cascading foliage, cushions and parasols. It is also available for private hire throughout the year.
151 Sydney Street, Chelsea, London SW3 6NT, thechelseacourtyard.com
The Ivy Chelsea Garden
Best outdoor dining space in London for: the 'gram; comfort food and cocktails.
The outdoor terrace at The Ivy Chelsea Garden on King's Road is an obvious choice on a summer's day, decked out with antique pots, lush greenery and a smattering of Instagram starlets. Tuck into the restaurant's signature menu of high-end comfort food, spanning signature shepherd’s pie, steak sandwiches, zucchini fries and truffle chips, complemented by a colourful cocktail menu and considered wine list.
195 -197 King's Road, Chelsea, London SW3 5EQ, theivychelseagarden.com
Best outdoor dining space in London for: South American flavours, chic, charming interiors.
Colour, flavour and style abound at Chicama, the sleek sister to Peruvian favourite, Pachamama in Marylebone. Tucked away on a quiet corner off the King's Road, Chicama dishes up meat-free meals with a bold, South American twist. Think gleaming sea bream ceviche, tangy green papaya salad and plump grilled prawns with a razor-sharp yazu kosho dressing. Beautifully presented cuisine can be enjoyed on the charming alfresco terrace, which is the perfect spot for whiling away a sunny afternoon in Chelsea.
383 King's Road, Chelsea SW10
The Hari, Belgravia
Best outdoor dining space in London for: exclusivity; Moët champagne and rainy days, thanks to the slick retractable roof.
The intimate Garden Terrace at The Hari in Belgravia has been transformed into a flower-filled 'secret garden' for summer 2019, created in partnership with Moët & Chandon. The hotel's cool, contemporary interiors stand out against the postcode’s more traditional offerings, while a retractable roof ensures that it is suitable for all forms of British weather this summer.
20 Chesham Place, Belgravia, London SW1X 8HQ
Boundary Rooftop, Shoreditch
Best outdoor dining space in London for: late night revelry, with views over East London.
Perched atop the Boundary Project in Shoreditch, this cool rooftop retreat packs out all summer long thanks to its panoramic views of London and Sir Terence Conran-curated furnishings. Select from a Mediterranean-style menu of seafood and grilled skewers, and huddle round the open fire on brisker evenings.
2-4 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DD, boundary.london/rooftop
Laurent-Perrier Sea Containers Terrace, Southbank
Best outdoor dining space in London for: quintessential views of the Thames.
The Tom Dixon-designed Sea Containers hotel on the Southbank has once again partnered with Laurent-Perrier on a new summer terrace menu. Enjoy riverside views across the Thames and St Pauls, while tucking into an assortment of seafood dishes and Laurent-Perrier cuvées and cocktails. The decor is Laurent-Perrier rosé pink, while guests can keep cosy in the evening under glowing heaters and blankets.
20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD, seacontainerslondon.com
Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury
Best outdoor dining space in London for: Bloomsbury Group devotees and décor – you're literally immersed in Dalloway Terrace's silk flowers and ferns.
Named after the eponymous character created by Virginia Woolf, Dalloway Terrace is an outdoor space in the heart of Bloomsbury, hidden away from the clamour of Tottenham Court Road. The al fresco terrace has been transformed to resemble an urban jungle, inspired by Leonard Woolf's travels to Sri Lanka during the early 1900s. On a sunny day, nestle amid silk flowers and ferns and tuck into a new vegan-friendly menu of cauliflower steaks, colourful salads and fragrant curry.
16-22 Great Russell Street, Fitzrovia, London WC1B 3NN, dallowayterrace.com
Best outdoor dining space in London for: calm, cool architecture and Nobu's greatest hits (black cod with miso, anyone?)
Nobu Shoreditch fuses Nobu’s signature Japanese minimalism with east London’s concrete-cool aesthetic. Behind an enigmatic, dark façade, the five-star property boasts 143 rooms and a lower-ground Nobu restaurant, with a four-level stepped terrace. Visit this secluded al fresco dining space for a relaxed breakfast (try the matcha waffles) or late night cocktails, accompanied by live DJs. The sleek restaurant also operates bottomless brunch, which you can read about here.
10-50 Willow St, London EC2A 4BH, nobuhotelshoreditch.com
Perrier-Jouët Champagne Terrace at Harrods
Best outdoor dining space in London for: international high flyers and those seeking sky-high refuge from the throngs of Knightsbridge.
High above Knightsbridge station, the Perrier-Jouët Champagne Terrace at Harrods is a sophisticated outdoor hideaway, which runs the length of the department store's southwest side. Head here for champagne and small plates, spanning tiers of fresh seafood, platters of charcuterie and salt-baked beetroot with goats cheese. Finish with a tower of strawberries and devilishly good dips including creamy ganache, lemon curd and chocolate sauce.
87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL, harrods.com