London is not famous for its good weather, but when the sun appears and spring arrives the city really starts to buzz. One of my absolute favorite things about London in the warmer months is dining outside and whatever you may have previously heard about the food not being great in London, well that’s just total rubbish.
So put whatever you may have heard aside, and let me tell you that the weather can be fantastic all summer long and the food is just as good.
Here are some of my usual haunts when the sun is shining to eat al fresco in London and booking in advance is highly recommended:
When André Balazs opened Chiltern Firehouse just over a year ago in the now super hip Marylebone neighbourhood, I knew I would be spending a lot of time at this hotel. Its’ sister hotel, Chateau Marmont in LA, was my second home when I lived in LA for fourteen years playing host to many momentous events in my life like my Engagement Party, Baby Shower and several birthdays. So when popping by the Firehouse for some nibbles on the terrace I settle into one of the woven bistro chairs (like the familiar ones at Chateau) and I somehow quickly feel at home.
This chic courtyard retreat, on a quiet residential street in Marylebone, gets its namesake by paying homage to the fire station that occupied the building from 1887-1960. With many parts of its original architecture restored, the new central patio serves as the perfect place to step out of the bustle of central London for an afternoon recharge. After your meal, give yourself some time to splurge at all the little boutiques along Chiltern Street which have popped up in the last couple years with the buzzy arrival of its new neighbour.
1 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7PA
+44 (0)20 7073 7676
The Ivy Chelsea Garden is a casual British restaurant serving an extensive all-day menu of food and cocktails. The restaurant, bar, and café inside have an aura of approachable sophistication and familiar luxury; outside is an extensive garden, complete with a terrace and orangery. One of the prettiest gardens to eat in London.
197 King’s Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 5EQ
+44 (0)20 3301 0300
Brinkley’s is a busy Chelsea restaurant with a popular, buzzy bar serving cocktails. It has a contemporary modern international menu including delicious tuna and avocado tartar, and the best Dover sole in town. Make sure to preserve a table outside or arrive before the post-work rush to secure a table as they go fast, and no one tends to give up their place until well past dinner.
47 Hollywood Rd, Little Chelsea. London, SW10 9HX
+44 (0)20 7351 1683
Inspired by the great boulevard cafes of Paris, Colbert sits at a corner of Sloane Square which connects Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Belgravia.
Sloane Square is at the epicenter of my life in London. I am circling through this little hub at lease two times a day. If you don’t mind the traffic and red buses circling past, take a seat outside for the chopped salad (the cobb) and don’t hold back on the French fries or bread – you only live once! Open 7 days a week from breakfast until late.
50-52 Sloane Square, Chelsea, London, SW1W 8AX
+44 (0)20 7730 2804
The Arts Club (private members only)
We joined this private members only Mayfair club our first year in London, the indoor restaurant and bar décor are gorgeous having been collaborated on by Gwyneth Paltrow and David d’Almada. And the outdoor dining area is one of my summertime favorite spots for lunch or to meet my husband post-work for an end of the day spritzer. The sleek courtyard is quietly tucked behind the main building making it a true sanctuary. If you know someone who is a member definitely ask them to take you here for lunch or dinner.
5 Dover Street, London, W1S 4NP
+22 (0) 7499 8581
A great lunchtime place in Chelsea. Enjoy some Rosé and salad, while sitting among the attractive locals. Or take a yoga class from my dear friend Julie Montagu at TriYoga a block down, and then head here for a healthy bite in the sun.
350 King’s Road, London, SW3 5UU
+44 (0)20 7559 1000
Take a break from shopping and stop in for lunch or early dinner at this Belgravia posh-pub, as I like to call it. Set on a picturesque street, the ground floor of this four floor public house and restaurant is a great place to get some fish and chip nourishment before heading back out to shop and rack up the rest of that big credit card bill.
10 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8LA
+44 (0)20 7730 6074
The elite British place to dine for the finest seafood at lunch and dinner. Scott’s offers the freshest oysters, fish and crustaceans in London and if you’re lucky enough to get a table you could be sitting next to the Prime Minister or a member of the royal family. The food is light, when ordering right, so after make sure to go splurge at one of the luxury boutiques on Mount Street.
20 Mount Street, Mayfair, London W1K 2HE
+44 (0)20 7495 7309
This iconic Michelin star Italian restaurant sits on the Thames river just a bit outside of central London. A restaurant full of culinary history and a daily-changing menu, make sure to eat Italian gourmet while taking in the gorgeous riverfront.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA,
+44 (0)20 7386 4200
A 30-minute journey from central London, this gorgeous glass tea house restaurant, outdoor cafe, and prized garden center are worth visiting on a weekend if you are visiting London for more than just a couple days. My family and I like to dine here often for lunch in the warm months for its calm, picturesque, countryside feel.
Church Lane (sign posted ‘St.Peter’s Church), Richmond, Surrey TW10 7AB
+44 (0)20 8940 5230
Build up an appetite with a long walk all around Hyde Park, and then sit outside at this casual retreat on the edge of the Serpentine pond watching pedal boats, ducks, and swans navigate the water. The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen serves a wide variety of tasty hot meals and snacks, freshly prepared sandwiches and salads, a daily selection of cakes and puddings from the bakery, and hot and cold drinks from the bar. I always find this to be the idyllic place to stop for yummy pizza after an afternoon in the park with the kids, no reservations required.
Serpentine Road, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH
+44 (0)20 7706 8114
The alfresco area at this small super stylish hotel is such a Soho oasis, you can almost see the air shimmering. The hard lines (stone floors, a gleaming modern sculpture, brick buildings on all sides) are softened by a handful of lush, mature oak trees, elegant cream parasols, and linen tablecloths. There’s a safe but smart modern European menu (risotto, grilled fish), which is all nice enough, but the real reason to visit is to refresh yourself after a hard day in W1. There’s even a designer drinking fountain!
The museums in London are spectacular so when heading to the Tate Modern or Tate Britain put the Brasserie on your list as the terrace is not to be missed in the summertime. Breatheaking views of the city are simply the best here. The Brasserie also offers a vegetarian/vegan menu, as well as an accompanying wine list.
OXO Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH
+44 (0)20 7803 3888