Birthdays are pretty awesome, aren’t they? You get presents and cake, everyone has to be extra nice to you and, if you so desire, you get to summon your friends and/or family and/or colleagues to a birthday meal out at a restaurant of your choosing. Great! Except you then have to pick a restaurant in a city that boasts literally thousands and risk a birthday admin-induced headache when the only kind of birthday-related headache you want is a hangover.
So, as a birthday gift to you, we’ve put together this short and sweet list of the best places to celebrate birthdays in London to save you the trouble. Each one offers something special for the person celebrating their birthday, so you can guarantee a little extra love on your special day.
Pollen Street Social
What: Jason Atherton’s stylish Michelin-starred flagship restaurant is a stellar choice for celebrations of every kind, but especially for birthdays. The superb food and drink provide a treat in themselves, but it’s the five-star birthday treatment from the pastry chefs that make this masterpiece of fine dining an absolute winner.
Let the staff know when booking that it’s your/one of your party’s birthday and the birthday guy or gal will receive a complimentary birthday cake crafted by one of the pastry chefs and served with a wind-up box that plays ‘happy birthday’. How cool is that?
Where: Pollen Street Social, 8-10 Pollen Street, W1S 1NQ
Berners Tavern at The London Edition
What: If we had you at ‘Jason Atherton’ on that last one, you’ll love this one too, since Berners Tavern at The London Edition in Fitzrovia is also under the direction of the acclaimed chef. This seriously buzzy destination is ideal for birthday celebrations if you’re the type who loves upscale food in sumptuous surrounds and comes with a nice little birthday perk too.
Not only will birthday bookers get a complimentary chocolate mousse cake on the house – which will quite obviously be delicious – but anyone signed up to its mailing list who books via their birthday reminder email will also get a complimentary glass of Champagne. It’s a sure way to have yourself a very happy birthday indeed!
Where: Berners Tavern at The London Edition, 10 Berners Street, W1T 3NP
What: Inamo is fun at the best of times, so it’s no surprise that birthdays here are celebrated in style. Not only does Inamo provide free fizz for all guests when the booking is for 7+, it also decorates all birthday plates with sparklers.
As if sparklers and free fizz weren't enough, there’s also the added fun of decorating your interactive table with photos of the person whose birthday it is! Yep, you can surprise a loved one with images of good times, and perhaps a couple of embarrassing baby pics on the table in honour of their special day, free of charge, at all three Inamo restaurants. Just be sure to leave out those smutty ones from Wigdog’s stag do – this is a family restaurant, after all.
Where: Inamo Soho, Covent Garden & Camden
What: Pizarro’s long wooden table is ideal for celebratory meals with family and friends, especially when dining from the group set menus. Filled with delicious Spanish tapas dishes, which can be adapted according to your dietary requirements, it’s a menu designed to share as you laugh and drink the good health of the one whose birthday it is.
What’s more, Pizarro allows guests to bring their own cake free of charge and will even round up the staff to sing ‘happy birthday’. It sounds embarrassing, but it’s actually a lovely touch.
Where: Pizarro, 194 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ
OXO Tower Restaurant
What: There are plenty of sky-high restaurants from which to gaze out on the capital, but if you ask us, OXO Tower’s eighth-floor terrace remains one of the best. Here, gorgeous views are coupled with sophisticated British cuisine, making it ideal for a spot of birthday lunch, dinner or afternoon tea.
There are no freebies to be had at this classy establishment, but there is the option to pre-order a birthday cake for yourself or someone special up to 72 hours before your reservation date. Cakes come in three sizes and range from £24-£48, which might sound a little steep until you find out that they’re made by OXO’s head pastry chef.
Where: OXO Tower Restaurant, Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, SE1 9PH
The Little Blue Door
What: If you’re nostalgic for university house parties then you should definitely book The Little Blue Door for your next birthday bash. Not only will the super-friendly ‘flatmates’ give everyone a royal welcome, they’ll also provide a ‘Colin the Caterpillar’ cake free of charge for all birthday bookings.
All you need to do is let them know when you book (via Whatsapp) that it’s your or someone in your party’s birthday, and they’ll sort the rest. A fantastic supper in a quirky Fulham house equipped with a prosecco vending machine AND a Colin the Caterpillar cake? Life doesn’t get much better than that.
Where: The Little Blue Door, 871-873 Fulham Road, SW6 5HP
The Ivy Chelsea Garden
What: Filled with botanical prints, floral artwork and an abundance of fresh flowers, the private Eden Room at The Ivy Chelsea Garden is a glorious space in which to host a special birthday meal. The staff here always go the extra mile to ensure guests have the best possible experience, so if you are planning to host your birthday party here, just let them know what you need and they’ll do their best for you.
The room can comfortably seat up to 30 guests and is available for hire throughout the day. Did someone say birthday brunch?
Where: The Ivy Chelsea Garden, 197 King's Road, SW3 5ED
Wild Honey St James
What: The striking new dining room within the Sofitel St James was designed by interior specialist Jim Hamilton and provides the kind of wow-factor we all deserve on our birthdays. Soft, cornflower blue banquette seating, toffee coloured tub chairs, parquet flooring and a show-stopping contemporary chandelier are enough to make dining here an experience to remember, and that’s before you try the food.
Acclaimed chef Anthony Demetre’s cooking is outstanding, so if you’re willing to shell out a little, we definitely recommend celebrating your birthday here at least once.
Where: Wild Honey St James, 8 Pall Mall, SW1Y 5NG
Bob Bob Ricard
What: Yep, it’s that ‘press for Champagne’ restaurant, and no we don’t think including it is lazy or predictable because it genuinely is an awesome place for birthday celebrations. Cloistered royal blue booths and an abundance of glitz and gold make it feel a bit like dining at Gatsby’s, which is no bad thing on your birthday.
Sadly, the Champagne you summon does have to be paid for, birthday or not, but it’s so much fun we think it’s worth it.
Where: Bob Bob Ricard, 1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF
Vibe: Ostentatious (in a good way)
What: Sleek, chic and any other synonym for ‘classy’ you can think of goes a little way to describing this high-spec Japanese restaurant in St. James’s, making it ideal for sophisticated birthday celebrations. Whether you opt for a table in the main dining room, a seat at the counter, or a private dining room, you and your guests will be treated to an array of superb Japanese dishes.
Be sure to save a little room though, as Ginza Onodera like to mark birthdays with a special plate when you order dessert (or a plate of complimentary Mochi if you don’t), along with a birthday card containing a photo of your experience at the end of the meal.
Where: Ginza Onodera, 15 Bury Street, SW1Y 6AL
What: It’s hardly haute cuisine, but Pizza Express was named as the UK’s favourite casual dining brand for a reason: it’s a solid all-rounder. Ideal for large groups, parties containing children (or fussy eaters), and anyone watching the pennies, Pizza Express serves up great pizzas, pastas and salads across the country every day of the week.
But the best part about celebrating your birthday at Pizza Express (apart from the dough balls, obviously), is that you can get a free bottle of prosecco when you buy two mains. You’ll need to sign up to its newsletter ahead of time and show your birthday email on arrival, but we reckon it’s well worth the admin. Cheers to you!
Where: Various Pizza Express restaurants nationwide
Need a little help planning your perfect birthday meal? Check out our free Concierge & Venue-finding Service