London’s 10 best summer terraces
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
1 The Dorchester Rooftop
A big hit when it debuted last year, the hotel’s rooftop pop-up returns for the summer season, setting fine dining to ’gramme-worthy vistas over Hyde Park. It’s a glamorous five-star affair that begins with the gold lift, whisking diners to the ninth floor, and an intimate reception bar swathed in a pretty pink-print fabric. The outdoor terrace, skirting the bar, is its antithesis: a glorious sun trap, lined by sofa-like banquette seating and dotted with tables crowned by large parasols. A live band provides the entertainment, but the cinematic views are theatre enough for sipping champagne and sampling the Mediterranean fare created by Jean-Philippe Blondet of Alain Ducasse’s eponymous hotel restaurant, overseen in the kitchen by head chef Bastien Bertaina. Enjoy starters such as sea bass ceviche, citrus and cucumber (£28); with mains of octopus, baba ghanoush and lime (£38), and sirloin steak (10oz/300g), watercress and hazelnut (£72), served by an attentive team. The ultimate indulgence? Watching the sunset over the treetops.
53 Park Lane, W1; book at sevenrooms.com
2 The Terrace at The Maine Mayfair
A hidden gem tucked behind Hanover Square, this newcomer to London’s terrace scene complements Joey Ghazal’s buzzy New England-style brasserie. The covered, year-round terrace is furnished with cushion-plumped seating, overlooking the greenery of Medici Courtyard. Hang out here over a leisurely weekend brunch (the menu includes stacked buttermilk pancakes, £12); or dine à la carte on classic steak and chop dishes including a dry-aged rib eye (£60, 400g) or specials from the raw bar that include a Poseidon Tower of 16 oysters (£180) – a showstopper served on an ice-filled platter.
Vegetarians and vegans will have to order plenty of starters to be sated as the main dishes are meat- and fish-focused. The service, however, is top-notch – and the mixologist makes a mean vodka martini.
Unit 6, Medici Courtyard, back entrance of 20 Hanover Square, W1; book at themainemayfair.com
3 Wagtail Rooftop Bar and Restaurant
The ping of the lift signals your arrival on the 10th floor: the doors opening to a contemporary dining space flanked by two alfresco terraces built around the domes of this historic building. The peak of The Shard and the Golden Gallery of St Paul’s sets the spectacular aerial scene – need we say more about the views? – and the sink-into seating layered with cushions between potted palms is chic and modern.
Sample the superb à la carte offering for specialities such as Welsh lamb with aubergine, confit red peppers and romesco sauce (£42); and Dover sole spring vegetables and mussel sauce (£38). Out on the terraces, tuck into small plates of sliders (the foraged mushroom dish with pickled shallot is £12). The icing on the cake? The 360-degree rooftop bar at the top of the building: a perch to sip sundowners and drink in the views.
68 King William St, EC; book at wagtaillondon.com
4 Il Giardino at The Berkeley
Last year’s Berkeley beach huts were the city’s summer go-to. This year the Knightsbridge haunt has conjured a slice of la dolce vita on the pavement of Wilton Place: an oasis fringed with herb plants and olive trees in terracotta pots under a canopy of foliage that transforms by night with the flicker of candles.
Chef Antonio Pavone’s small plates include a salumi board of mortadella, spicy spianata, finocchiona and prosciutto di Parma (£21); or grilled asparagus, truffle, shaved Parmesan Reggiano (£21); and large plate specialities such as cacio e pepe with rigatoncini and tagliolini with pesto, made with pistachios from the Sicilian town of Bronte (£29). The decor, splashed with Ceraudo prints and lemon-filled Bettina Ceramica bowls add to the ambience.
Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, SW1; book at the-berkeley.co.uk
5 Midsomer on Mount Street at Scott’s Restaurant
Set under the exotic palms of a de Gournay print canopy, the Mayfair outpost has teamed up with the wallpaper and fabric house and Krug champagne to spark the summer celebrations on its ever-popular alfresco terrace from 30 June. Try the girolle and courgette risotto (£18.50) paired with a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée 170th Edition (£50 per glass or £300 per bottle), from a special seasonal menu that’s served until the end of August, or share one of the venue’s famed plateau de fruits de mer for two (£100), adding lobster (£52) or Platinum caviar (£75 for 30g) if you’re pushing the boat out.
20 Mount Street, Mayfair, W1; book at scotts-restaurant.com
6 Laurent-Perrier x Sea Containers Surrealistic summer terrace
Expect a surreal experience on this Thames-side terrace as you’re seated among curios including a giant green apple, paying homage to artists such as René Magritte – and the blockbuster exhibition at nearby Tate Modern. Highlights of the menu include juniper-cured salmon, elderflower and focaccia (£17); and Chalk Stream trout, asparagus, Jersey royals and vinaigrette (£28). As evocative as the surrealist scene is when seated among the works, it can’t compete with the spectacle that is St Paul’s Cathedral set ablaze by the sunset – an experience only bettered with an elderflower-liqueur-laced champagne cocktail in hand. The pop-up runs until September.
20 Upper Ground South Bank, SE1; book at seacontainerslondon.com
7 Allegra terrace at The Stratford Hotel
Perched on the seventh floor of The Stratford Hotel at Manhattan Loft Gardens, the restaurant and bar’s wraparound terrace and garden is framed by cityscape views. Drop by for head chef Patrick Powell’s seasonal delights: market oysters with Bloody Mary granita and pickled celery (£24 per half dozen); fried chicken, mustard fruit, aioli and pickles (£12); and clotted cream and strawberry-ice cream sandwiches (£4.50 each). Soak up the sun with a special cocktail; the venue’s Citrus Spritz is a refreshing mix of Pampelle, homemade citrus cordial, prosecco and grapefruit soda. The terrace and garden at Allegra is open from 4pm on Wednesday and Thursday, and from 12pm Friday to Sunday. 20 International Way, E20; book at allegra-restaurant.com
8 La Veranda by Patrón at Rosewood London
Sip Simply Perfect Patrón cocktails surrounded by serene water features, dotted with agave and colourful ceramics that conjure the flavour of a Mexican Tulum retreat within the hotel’s Edwardian courtyard.
Here, alfresco drinking and dining is offered throughout the day, from brunch to dinner, with guests enjoying the buena vida with tableside guacamole (£11), handmade tacos (from £14) and plates such as pot roast red snapper, ancho chilli, cherry tomatoes, tequila and herbs (£36). Wash it all down with a shot of tequila and let the fiesta begin.
252 High Holborn, WC1; book at rosewoodhotels.com
9 The Hari Garden Terrace
Wrapped by a living wall with a retractable glass roof, this is an all-weather option in Knightsbridge. This summer’s on-the-terrace treat is a taste of the south of France: Château Minuty is served either by the bottle or glass, complementing a Provençal menu of sharing plates as delectable as Pissaladière French onion tart with herb cheese, anchovies and olives (£21); or a charcuterie board of French cured meat, ratatouille, black olive tapenade and vegetable crudités with a mini baguette (£25), served until the end of August.
20 Chesham Place, SW1; book at thehari.com
10 J Sheekey
This year’s terrace theme whisks diners on a train journey – albeit a stationary one. Take your seat for special seafood selections paired with four cocktails created in partnership with Plymouth Gin, transporting merrymakers on a culinary odyssey along the Plymouth coastline. Try the pairing of six Lindisfarne oysters with a cool gin martini (£35) for the full experience.
28-32 St Martin’s Court, WC2; book at j-sheekey.co.uk