As the warm weather wanes there’s every chance you think your days at London’s best al fresco restaurants are a thing of the past, but we’re here to tell you there’s an exciting alternative. Swapping awnings for outdoor heaters, some of London’s top restaurants transform in the winter to offer guests heated terraces and cosy covered rooftops where they can drink and dine under the stars, whatever the weather.
While we’re not afraid of battling the elements when the mood strikes for a bracing walk, we definitely don’t enjoy eating a meal while being battered by mother nature. That being said, come cool winter evenings there’s something extraordinarily satisfying about making the most of the crisp atmosphere - the kind that gives your face a pleasant flush - while bundling up under blankets and awnings to keep cosy. Ensuring your warm through the duration of your meal is key, and lots of the best restaurants with winter terraces go that extra mile to ensure guests are comfortable. While external heaters are pretty commonplace now, lots of restaurants also offer guests piles of fluffy blankets, complementary warm drinks or even stacks of hot water bottles. The true test of the best outdoor winter restaurants is whether or not you’re comfortable enough to fully relax and unwind, to enjoy a long and leisurely meal without feeling like you want to rush off home to the safety of your central heating.
Some of the picks in this selection of our favourite winter terraces are petite restaurants with space for just a handful of diners, while others have wide open spaces big enough for parties or full functions. Whichever you plump for we’d recommend you be specific when making your booking to ensure you get your preferred seat outside. With people being more conscious than ever about how they socialise; these gems can get packed out pretty fast.
What: Chet Sharma's BiBi scooped the top prize in our Top 100 London restaurants 2022 list, so any chance you get to eat at this boundary-pushing Indian restaurant is worth taking. As well as plush interiors, this Mayfair diner has a cosy candlelit outdoor terrace complete with heaters, blankets, and awnings. Add to that the excellent people watching of the plum W1 postcode and a menu of interesting interpretations of Indian classics and you’ve got yourself a winning formula.
Where: 42 North Audley Street, W1K 6ZP
Book now: BiBi
Caravan, Bloomberg Arcade
What: If you’re looking for a cosy terrace in the heart of the City, then Caravan in Bloomberg Arcade offers the perfect spot with its widely-spaced tables and outdoor heaters. Entirely weatherproof, thanks to being under cover, the terrace here is a handy place to have up your sleeve come rain or shine. Once you’ve settled into your seat the next thing to do is to pick your plates: Caravan deals in international crowd-pleasers, so offers something for everyone. Favourites of ours include the pan-fried seabass with coconut red curry, daikon, carrot, squash and peanuts and the pork schnitzel with a fried egg, a mustard dill cream, pickles and sage.
Where: 22 Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR
Book now: Caravan
Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden
What: The covered courtyards of Petersham Nurseries provide quiet - and quite unexpected - respite from the buzz of busy crowds in the heart of Covent Garden. Offering full escapism from the hubbub outside, the central open-air space here comes complete with strings of twinkly fairy lights and cosy blankets to wrap yourself in. Choose to dine with the team at The Petersham or plump for small plates and a slightly more casual vibe at La Goccia next door. Either way you’ll be treated to seasonal menus and signature friendly service while enjoying the novelty of a secluded outdoor space in one of London’s busiest neighbourhoods.
Where: 27 King Street, WC2E 9DS
Book now: The Petersham; La Goccia
Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill, Mayfair
What: With a heritage that spans over a hundred years, it’s safe to say Bentley’s is one of the capital’s finest dining institutions. Found on Swallow Street just off of Regent Street, Bentley’s provides the ultimate respite from a long day pounding the pavements of central London. The terrace here is completely covered and heated, protecting guests from the elements, and the full unabbreviated menu is on offer so you can expect seafood galore as well as a far-reaching wine and Champagne list.
Where: 11-15 Swallow Street, W1B 4DG
Book now: Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill
Le Pont de la Tour, South Bank
What: One for romantic getaways, Le Pont de la Tour’s Le Lodge d’Hiver offers a dining space with views of London’s iconic Tower Bridge. Guests will be treated to a full Champagne menu while taking in vistas of the Thames. Expect the kitchen’s classic French cookery and old school, top-class service plus cosy sheepskin line chairs and covered, heated awnings.
Where: Butlers Wharf, 36d Shad Thames, SE1 2YE
Book now: Le Pont de le Tour
Aqua Kyoto, Soho
What: Bringing the outdoors in, Aqua Kyoto’s terrace is fully covered and heated, yet retains its sweeping views of the city’s impressive skyline. Here you’ll find a wall of silk maple leaves creating a dramatic backdrop to proceedings, as well as signature cocktails, plenty of fizz and an extensive Japanese whiskey collection. Food wise, guests will be able to tuck into treats like freshly made sushi rolls and Japanese fried chicken.
Where: 5th Floor 240 Regent Street, Argyll Street, W1F 7EB
Book now: Aqua Kyoto
The Broadcaster & Aerial Rooftop, White City
What: If you’re looking for a do-it-all restaurant, bar and pub with private hire options, a smart restaurant and a rooftop terrace, look no further than The Broadcaster in White City. Although glorious in the summer, The Broadcaster’s spacious Aerial Rooftop is also pretty cosy in the winter too thanks to heaters, blankets and warming winter food.
Where: 89 Wood Lane, W12 7FX
Book now: The Broadcaster & Aerial Rooftop
What: Arguably the most famous of Chelsea's celeb-haunts, Bluebird regularly goes all out with its Christmas decorations - the courtyard plays host to heated huts, twinkling lights and plenty festive decor. Food is the much-loved modern fusion style the Bluebird has become famous for - think Kerala monkfish curry, beef tartare with an Asian dressing or salt and pepper cauliflower.
Where: 350 Kings Road, SW3 5UU
Book now: Bluebird
Isla at The Standard, King’s Cross
What: One of the city’s coolest hotels, the winter terrace at Isla at The Standard is one of the few outdoor spots where you can gather around a crackling fire pit, wrapped in sheepskin furs. Even better, it's open breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you can ever stop by for Sunday lunch, or just to sip on a cold vermouth.
Where: 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG
Book now: Isla at The Standard
The Beaumont Hotel, Mayfair
What: Sink into a rattan armchair and gaze out over the tranquil Brown Hart Garden from The Beaumont’s secluded terrace. Blankets and heaters are out in winter to keep the chill off, and there’s a cracking menu available too, as well as cigars from The Beaumont’s well-stocked humidor.
Where: 8 Balderton Street, W1K 6TF
Book now: The Colony Grill Room at The Beaumont
Koya Ko, Hackney
What: Koya’s little sister is a perfect fit for Hackney, and appetite for Shuko Oda’s bouncy, chewy udon noodles in various forms shows no sign of abating. This terrace is a little more temporary than others on this list, but it’s perfectly cosy, and if it means we can gulp down udon bowls in the dead of winter, who are we to argue?
Where: 12 Broadway Market Mews, E8 4TS
Book now: Koya Ko, Hackney
Sushisamba, The City
What: Sushisamba’s iconic terrace allows guests sweeping views of the capital from the 39th floor of the Heron Tower. The central tree is lit up in winter to create a stunning sculptural centrepiece made up of over 6200 individually controlled pixel lights and there’s a whole run of warming cocktails on offer too. On the food side you can expect the usual mix of the brand’s signature Japanese and South American fare. Favourites include robata-grilled king scallops with crispy pork belly, pork dashi and hijiki and a house smoked unagi maki with black truffle, avocado and sansho kombu. If you’re central, Sushisamba also has a terrace at their Covent Garden branch.
Where: Heron Tower, EC2N 4AY
Book now: Sushisamba The City
Wild by Tart, Belgravia
What: A darling of London’s ‘it’ crowd, Wild at Tart finds its home in the quaint surrounds of Eccleston Yards. The restaurant’s owners Jemima Jones and Lucy Carr-Ellison built their brand by catering for the who’s who of London’s fashion elite. Here in Pimlico the duo’s bricks and mortar site is home to a pretty, 24-seater terrace which makes the ideal place to sample the kitchen’s signature contemporary European cookery.
Where: 3-4 Eccleston Yards, SW1W 9AZ
Book now: Wild by Tart
Yauatcha, The City
What: Yauatcha’s intricately made dim sum are served up on their Broadgate terrace alongside a tempting selection of cocktails and Champagne – just the thing to warm the cockles on cool evenings. The heated and covered terrace is decked out with faux fur rugs, fairy lights and twinkling crystal droplets to create a magical winter scene. Food includes Iberico pork truffle siew long bun and drunken chicken and prawn wontons, while cocktails like a gingerbread espresso martini add a seasonal spin.
Where: Broadgate, EC2M 2QS
Book now: Yauatcha
Smokey Kudu, Peckham
What: South Londoners are blessed with easy access to Peckham’s Smokey Kudu, the trendy South African cocktail bar run by a husband-and-wife duo in this corner of the capital. Here you’ll find a 20-seater rainproof terrace where you can indulge in the bar’s signature serves as well as a selection of sharing platters. If you’re then happy to head indoors the sibling sites of Kudu and Kudu Grill offer incredible, inventive cookery centred around the braai.
Where: 133 Queen's Road, SE15 2ND
Book now: Smokey Kudu at Kudu Grill
What: As the old adage goes, pizza is always a good idea. Homeslice, which is famed for its inventive topping combinations and its 50/50 option on its 20” pizzas, has a buzzy little street-side terrace in Marylebone. Here you can enjoy all the fun of the high street while making the most of the heated parasols above that ensure you stay warm and dry during your stint of al fresco winter dining.
Where: 50 James Street, W1U 1HB
Book now: Homeslice
Barge East, Hackney Wick
What: When a simple terrace won’t do, why not up the ante with a floating bar and restaurant? Barge East is just that and comes complete with access to London’s largest alfresco terrace – an addition which has been made this year and sits snuggly alongside the boat, giving you waterside views. From here you’ll find heated winter cabins, a whole host of street food stalls, access to mini hot water bottles and faux fur blankets. Basically, if there’s a way to make you feel warm, these guys have thought about it. Don’t miss the s’mores hot chocolate.
Where: River Lee, Sweetwater Mooring, White Post Lane, E9 5EN
Book now: Barge East
Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury
What: Dalloway Terrace continues its tradition of a flower-heavy winter wonderland. Crystallised white, pink and silver petals adorn this hideaway alongside fairy lights, creating a Champagne-coloured foliage of leather leaf, gogo, eucalyptus and magnolia. When you finally put away your phone and stop snapping for Insta, you can enjoy the surroundings with tasty Mediterranean comfort food, or a warming cocktail.
Where: The Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN
Book now: Dalloway Terrace
Uli, Notting Hill
What: Asian restaurant Uli has gone for a classy and simple, yet impressively pretty look for its winter terrace. They have decked out the decking with a ceiling of fresh foliage and hundreds of hanging baubles. Dishes include small bites like vegetable spring rolls or crispy calamari as well as a whole selection of dim sum. Mains cover popular classics like sweet and sour battered chicken and crispy shredded chilli beef.
Where: 5 Ladbroke Road, W11 3PA
Book now: Uli
If a warm, cosy pub is more your vibe in the winter, check out our exhaustive list of the best gastropubs in London, broken down into different areas of the capital.