Nothing beats sipping a cool beer on a hot summer’s day and, fortunately, London is home to a host of bars and pubs with welcoming outdoor drinking spots. Not sure where to find them? Square
Meal brings you the hottest list of alfresco drinking holes in the capital
On the Waterfront
125 Caledonian Road, N1 9RG, 020 7837 1924
Located in the depths of King’s Cross, Canal 125 is a lively bar without attitude. It has high points aplenty, from good-natured staff to a bracing selection of cocktails, but pride of place goes
to the two terraces overlooking the canal.
The Boulevard, Imperial Wharf, SW6 2UB, 020 7736 3337
Attached to a fine fish restaurant, this smart bar is a worthy destination in its own right. Fat leather couches spill onto the riverside terrace, while tasty marine snacks are offered up
alongside a small selection of the main restaurant’s wines and a worthwhile list of contemporary cocktails.
19 Upper Mall, W6 9TA, 020 8748 9474
This waterside charmer’s lovely terrace has seen many a famous face – from latter-day lovers Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to Ingrid Bergman, Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene. Drink
Discovery and London Pride from local brewer Fuller’s, while munching on traditional pies, such as steak and ale.
45 Woodfield Road, W9 2BA, 020 7286 1886
The Grand Union’s trump card is its canalside terrace, complete with alfresco tables and a dedicated bar, where a DJ competes against the roar of traffic. Fuller’s London Pride and Honeydew
complement the simple but tasty pub grub (sausages, burgers and speciality pies).
117 Rotherhithe Street, SE16 4NF, 020 7237 4088
A top spot for American tourists, for The Mayflower is from where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail in 1620 (well, from an adjacent quay). Still, it’s worth jostling with them for seats on the
riverside terrace, to down pints of Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen.
5 St George Wharf, SW8 2LE, 020 7735 8129
On a sunny day there are few spots to rival outside this quiet pub beneath a chic new riverside development, with a lovely vista over the Thames. Drinks are as you would expect in a Young’s pub,
though food is a touch on the ordinary side.
6 Park Row, SE10 9NW, 020 8858 2909
Expect good beer and classic English pub food – steak sandwiches, salads and fish and chips – in historic, well-preserved surroundings. The Tavern’s popularity can be a bother come summer, but
there are few better riverside spots for open-air drinking in Greenwich.
Waterloo Pier, Victoria Embankment, WC2R 2PP, 020 7240 9404
Views from the sundeck of this permanently moored converted Clyde passenger steamer offer a stunning sweep upriver from Cleopatra’s Needle westwards. The house wine is at virtually duty-free
prices (£7.95 a bottle).
54 Formosa Street, W9 2JU, 020 7266 3557
The Waterway’s USP is its vast canalside terrace, which is packed from spring through to autumn. You can quaff Beck’s Vier and Adnams alongside a well-rounded selection of wines – though expect a
long wait for service.
The Terrace, SW13 0NR, 020 8876 5177
The wooden balcony of this villagey Barnes pub is rammed on Boat Race day; tables line the river and there’s a barbecue in the garden. It’s a Young’s house, so expect Bombardier and Waggledance.
Best of the Beer Garden
10 Thornhill Road, N1 1HW, 020 7607 7450
This wisteria-covered, 18th-century inn has a raffish past – at the end of the vast beer garden is a barn where the Sex Pistols once played. Nowadays it’s a prime spot for a pint each of prawns
and Black Sheep.
15 Selwood Terrace, SW7 3QG, 020 7373 7960
Apparently the Great Train Robbery was plotted at this South Ken local, but today’s crowd is definitely not strapped for cash. The terrace is jam-packed on summer evenings and there’s a lively
selection of real ales (London Pride, Hogs Back Bitter).
37 Marloes Road, W8 6LA, 020 7937 0710
This modern pub has a shaded garden terrace that hosts barbies. There’s Leffe, Hoegaarden and Grolsch, guest ales and a reasonable Old and New World wine selection.
65 Gloucester Avenue, NW1 8JH, 020 7722 0950
A pioneer in the gastropub revolution, The Engineer’s pretty garden has separate areas for diners (booking is essential) and drinkers. Tequila-cured salmon on sweetcorn blinis with cucumber and
crème fraîche washed down with a glass of crisp white is perfect on a summer’s day.
32 Downshire Hill, NW3 1NT, 020 7433 6811
On a sunny day the Freemasons Arms, just across the road from Hampstead Heath, gets packed with punters vying for its picnic tables; there’s even an outdoor bar catering for thirsty
77 Borough High Street, SE1 1NH, 020 7407 2056
The George is now London’s sole surviving galleried coaching inn – hence its National Trust status. You can sit in the sun-soaked courtyard and sink pints of Greene King, Abbot and various guest
195-197 King’s Road, SW3 5ED, 020 7352 9255
Don’t be put off by the smell of stale booze as you walk in – there’s welcome escape in Chelsea’s biggest beer garden out back and cheap drinks ensure a cheerful atmosphere.
19 Kilburn Lane, W10 4AE, 020 8969 0098
With bohemian charm plus good food and a snappy cocktail list, Paradise is a top spot. There’s also a pretty garden and decked roof terrace tailor-made for sun-seekers.
The Ship Inn
41 Jew’s Row, SW18 1TB, 020 8870 9667
An alfresco joy with rose-lined patios and split-level decking onto the Thames. Factor in an all-day barbecue plus a beach shack-style cocktail bar and you have one of south London’s hottest
1-3 Parsons Green, SW6 4UL, 020 7736 2115
Known for its barbecues, the terrace gets overwhelmed on sunny days. There are also over 100 bottled beers, a handful of serious cask ales and a blockbuster wine list.
1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ, 020 7395 5000
With its spectacular roof garden and ocean-liner decor, Coq d’Argent possesses a buzzy urbanity few other City venues can match. The wine list offers wines by the glass and half-bottle, plus a
vast selection from France (including three pages of Bordeaux alone).
19 Broadgate Circle, EC2M 2QS, 020 7628 1251
5 Exchange Square, EC2A 2EH, 020 7628 4367
This chain of wine bars serves up several alfresco drinking areas, but these two outlets stand above the rest. In Broadgate Circle, the long, curvaceous bar, flanked by outside seating areas,
makes it a real draw in fine weather. While in pedestrianised Exchange Square, there’s a vast terrace plus a croquet lawn.
14 Hertsmere Road, West India Quay, E14 4AF, 020 7987 0001
The flagship branch of Champagne bar mini-chain Dion boasts an enviable outdoor terrace overlooking West India Quay, with individual gazebos sponsored by Veuve Clicquot, and one of the longest
Champagne lists of any London bar.
27 Coldharbour, E14 9NS, 020 7515 5222
A highlight of the growing Docklands scene, The Gun is set right on the Thames with smashing views from its relaxing waterside terrace. In summer, the pub also opens a Portuguese barbecue next
door, known as
A Grelha at The Gun.
2 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5PQ, 020 7490 2244
The once-defunct Hat and Feathers had a phoenix-like re-emergence in late 2006. Now it comprises a downstairs pub, upstairs fine-dining room (both serving above-average food) and a funky decked
alfresco terrace for allcomers.
40 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE, 020 7833 3533
This fashionably scruffy diner offers alfresco drinking and dining in its inner courtyard and at tables spilling onto Exmouth Market. Its lack of surface gloss belies the quality of the food and
drink: modern Brit dishes and well-picked wines and beers go down a treat.
44 Narrow Street, E14 8DP, 020 7592 7950
The first of Gordon Ramsay’s collection
of gastropubs which opened last year,
The Narrow is located in a pretty spot
on a bend of the Thames at Limehouse. Outside is a terrace right on the river offering drinks and bar snacks.
1 Paul’s Walk, EC4V 3QH, 020 7329 9299
Last year’s smart newcomer, located just at the north foot of the Millennium Bridge, has been a great success thanks to its funky design and food from head chef Peter Woods with a West Country
A further boon is its glorious outdoor terrace overlooking the Thames.
Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, SE1 9PH, 020 7803 3888
A contender for ‘the best view in London’, the Oxo Tower offers a stonking ringside seat overlooking the river and its embankment. In summer, there’s an outdoor bar area set up on its own terrace
and this year, the theme is mojitos.
86-88 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5RJ, 020 7324 4455
This clean-lined, urban restaurant-with-rooms in the heart of Clerkenwell continues to fit the bill – especially when the outdoor tables and chairs appear in summer alongside St John’s Square.
Chic cocktails and wines by the glass complement the Mediterranean food.
Sip it in Style
The Stafford Hotel, 16-18 St James’s Place, SW1A 1NJ, 020 7493 0111
A dry martini mixed by the butler-ish staff and served with utterly irresistible complimentary nibbles on the leafy terrace is an unmissable experience. There’s also a fine selection of malt
whisky, prestige wines and Thwaites Lancaster Bomber, brewed by The Stafford Hotel’s northern owners.
Wyndham Grand, Chelsea Harbour, SW10 0XG, 020 7300 8443
On a summer’s day, over a bottle of chilled Sancerre on the terrace, you might think you’ve been transported to the French Riviera – with seriously smart yachts moored all around. Undemanding
international food accompanies the show.
3 Varnishers Yard, Regent Quarter, N1 9AF, 020 7841 7331
From the same stable as Cargo and Cantaloupe, Camino opened last summer in the Regent Quarter in King’s Cross. Spanish food is washed down with sangría, beers or wines, and the lovely courtyard
comes into its own in summer.
Harvey Nichols, 109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ, 020 7823 1839
Alongside the café on the top floor of Harvey Nichols is a wonderful roof terrace boasting views over Knightsbridge. As well as breakfast, lunchtime salads and a kids’ menu are larger evening
dishes, though you’re welcome to pitch up for cocktails.
25 Heddon Street, W1B 4BH, 020 7434 4040
This chic outpost of the Maghreb continues to play to packed houses and, on warmer days, its outdoor tables also fill up. Colourful cocktails, an interesting wine
list and delicious North-African nibbles have a certain appeal, too.
Sip it in style
The Horse Hospital, Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AH,020 7482 3867
Locals mourned the loss of the area’s best alfresco bar when At Proud closed last year. Now it’s risen from the ashes on a site just around the corner offering quirky design, great cocktails and
a much larger alfresco drinking area (see full review page 82).
The Trafalgar Hotel, 2 Spring Gardens, SW1A 2TS, 020 7870 2959
Named after an LA rat-pack hangout, Rockwell is a swinging lounge for sharply tailored blades and foxy dames. An awesome roof terrace boasts fine views out onto Trafalgar Square, and a bar
dispensing ice-cold lager, Champagne and bellinis.
The Rockwell Hotel
181-183 Cromwell Road, SW5 OSF, 020 7244 2000
A gorgeous garden is buried inside this pretty, boutique hotel close to Earl’s Court tube station. Guests have the choice of eating (from an inventive menu) or simply enjoying its green surrounds
with a refreshing G&T or a cocktail.
50 Berners Street, W1T 3NG, 020 7300 1444
Located between swanky Malaysian restaurant, Suka, and the blingy Long Bar, is the Sanderson hotel’s picturesque courtyard garden, complete with ample seating, luxuriant greenery and tranquil
water features. Sip a cocktail from the bar while enjoying Malay flavours from the kitchen.
101 Westbourne Park Villas, W2 5ED, 020 7221 1332
The drinking area of choice for west London trendies when the sun comes out. Food is Anglo-Med gastropub fare, while the beer selection includes Leffe and Old Speckled Hen on tap and hipsters’
favourite Newcastle Brown Ale by the bottle.
Editorial feature from Square Meal Lifestyle Magazine Summer 2008