Heated Outdoor Gardens and Tier 2-Compliant Terraces: Where to Drink, Dine and Hang Out Safely in London this Winter

Move over Aperol, it's hot-toddy season. With restrictions heating up and temperatures cooling down, London’s bars and restaurants are getting creative when it comes to drawing punters. Huddling around open fires and perching in an igloo, we’ve found the city’s best outdoor drinking and dining spots to visit this winter.

Tired of tearing up about Tier 2 restrictions? We've scouted out London's top spots for outdoor drinking and dining so that you can still cling to whatever's left of your social calendar. Expect enveloping blankets and good smattering of fairy lights. Inevitably, these places are filling up fast, so book a table for your support bubble well in advance.

Igloos, winter terraces and London's 12 best rooftop gardens for outdoor drinking and dining

restaurant

The Waterside

Fulham

Within easy reach of Chelsea Harbour, The Waterside is ideal for a midweek brunch date. The large, heated terrace is daubed in arresting shades of blue – snag a spot on one of the sapphire-leather sofas and gaze across the Thames. Food is not your average pub grub: sourdough pizza comes with seasonal toppings and the traditional salmon-and-eggs breakfast spiked with pickled chilli.

Address

The Boulevard, Imperial Wharf, SW6 2SU

restaurant

The Lighterman

King's Cross

Flanked by Regent’s Canal and Granary Square, this place is our go-to for Sunday lunch with our support bubble. It’s scientifically proven that eating on the canalside terrace makes the all-day menus taste even better than they do indoors. Seasonal cocktails, biodynamic wines and local craft beers are a worthy side order.

Address

3 Granary Square, N1C 4BH

bar

The Coach

Clerkenwell

This Victorian boozer underwent a major refurb back in 2018, trading in traditional pub get-up for whitewashed walls and Crittall windows while dropping the latter half of its original name (The Coach and Horses). As appealing as the mod-industrial design is the hearty menu featuring the likes of beef-bourguignon pie and roast-pumpkin soup. Arrive with an empty stomach.

Address

26-28 Ray Street, EC1R 3DJ

restaurant

Frenchie

Covent Garden

A Channel-hopping mini-break might not be on the cards this winter, but Frenchie has stepped up to fulfil our Parisian craving. The outdoor seating area could easily be mistaken for a scene from Emily in Paris (yes we binged it in one day too), peppered with wide umbrellas and heaters this is ideal for a mid-week lunch date. Bring along a reusable bag; you'll likely want to stock up on Christmas presents at the market afterwards.

Address

16 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QH

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restaurant

Vinegar Yard

London Bridge

Set in the shadow of the Shard, this al fresco hub of culture and street food comes from the team behind nearby Flat Iron Square. Its mustard-yellow picnic tables fill up fast, so head online to book. Once parked up, dig into Lebanese mezze from Nik’s Kitchen or burgers from Nanny Bill’s – if you don’t order it’s mac ‘n’ cheese croquettes, did you really go out at all?

Address

72-82 St Thomas Street, SE1 3QU

restaurant

Mercer Roof Terrace

The City

Dine in London’s concrete canopy at the sky-high Mercer Roof Terrace. Stylish yet snug, its indoor restaurant is framed by floor-to-ceiling windows, though it’s the terrace that’s caught our attention. Not ones to get nippy in the rooftop breeze, we’re booking one of Mercer’s winter igloos which, happily, accommodate a Covid-friendly six people as they dig into farm-to-table fare between flickering candles and faux-fur blankets.

Address

20 Garlick Hill, EC4 2AU

bar

The Culpeper

Spitafields

A short walk from Spitalfields Market, this place is ideal for after-work-from-home drinks. Come on, you never really enjoyed Zoom drink dates either. With a verdant rooftop terrace practically touching the gherkin, this is an East End boozer and then some. Many of the ingredients on the modern-English menu here are picked straight from its own greenhouse.

Address

40 Commercial Street, E1 6LP

bar

Snow Globes, Jimmy's Lodge

South Bank

Where Courchevel meets the city, Jimmy’s Lodge lets you escape to the Alps right by the Thames. The chalet-style (socially distanced) Refuge Restaurant serves up an Alpine-esque menu – steak, fondue, whisky, the like – but we prefer to snaffle it down in one of the private snow globes. These heated domes hold up to 10 people but are currently allowing a maximum of six, which could work in your favour if you were eyeing up the churros too.

Address

Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX

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restaurant

Duchess Belle

Battersea

South of the river, this Victorian pub is a five-minute walk from Battersea Park. Stroll in after a crisp-aired walk and defrost with a large mug of hot chocolate (or something stronger) in the modern garden. Lots of people shout about the nachos here but the traditional fish finger sarnie is our order of choice.

Address

101 Battersea Park Road, SW8 4DS

bar

No. 35 Mackenzie Walk

Canary Wharf

A menu dedicated to gin? Sold. The design of the place (and, yes, the name) is a giveaway that it’s from the team behind No. 32 The Old Town and No. 11 Pimlico Road. Lounge on the heated waterfront seating and glug down a fish-bowl-sized gin flavoured with pink grapefruit and pomelo gin. Food wise, choices (made via app, FYI) vary from vegan chia bowls to charcuterie boards and buttermilk caesar. Wonky veg is used where possible.

Address

29-35 Mackenzie Walk, E14 4PH

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restaurant

The Green Room

South Bank

An award-winning pavilion from a collaboration between the National Theatre and Coin Street Community Builders. A low-slung wooden ceiling gives way to concrete columns and black metal chairs inside, but we’re partial to finding a spot beside the garden’s collection of herbs. Note the unlimited prosecco on Saturday’s bottomless brunch menu.

Address

101 Upper Ground, SE1 9PP

restaurant

Chiltern Firehouse

Marylebone

Scattered with large plant-pots and lanterns, Chiltern Firehouse's outdoor area is a cubby hole where hours slip away easily. There's a large wood-fired oven, so it would be rude not to order a pizza and spirit your mind to Sardinia. Sweet tooth? We have a few words for you: extra virgin olive oil ice-cream. Thank us later.

Address

1 Chiltern Street, W1U 7PA

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