Whether you fancy eagle-eye views of the skyline or a front-row seat to the action on some of the city’s most charming streets — or simply a bit of bucolic bliss — here are FT readers’ recommended destinations for a tipple en plein air.
Wine in the sunshine on Chelsea’s newly pedestrianised Pavilion Road
Now that Pavilion Road in Chelsea has been closed to traffic, the whole street has been filled with tables, chairs and benches and decorated with trees and plants, for people to enjoy al fresco drinks and bites. When the sun is shining, it’s completely buzzing there.
Pavilion wine bar surely profits from this amazing location. Furthermore, it has a great variety of wines suiting every taste. They also serve drinks such as Aperol Spritz, as well as G & T. The cheese and charcuterie platters are delicious, and provide a great compliment to the wines. It’s a great place to meet friends for a drink, sit on a bench, soak up the sunshine and enjoy the cosy and buzzy vibes of Pavilion Road.
— Maya Beyhan, portfolio strategist, London, UK
An elegant streetside sanctum at Claridge’s
Hugging the iconic main facade of Claridge’s on Brook Street in Mayfair is a sliver of terrace attached to Claridge’s Bar. Well shrouded from the street but still close enough to grasp snippets of conversation from passers-by, it feels like you have discovered a private sanctum that happens to be replete with impeccably charming staff and service. To while away a late afternoon or early evening with crisp glasses of champagne or the ice-cold fortification of martinis is no effort whatsoever. Just don’t tell everyone.
— John Franklin, editor, Zurich, Switzerland
Cocktails in the sky above south-east London
Forza Wine in Peckham for Italian-style aperitivi with views over London from west to east. They mix their own cocktails such as the “Frogroni”, a frozen Negroni — quite good on a nice evening post-lockdown. Don't forget to try the “snack” menu — ordering a couple feels like a dinner date.
— CG Beckmann, banker, London, UK
A taste of la dolce vita in Canary Wharf
[At Canary Wharf], located in a leafy corner of Cabot Square, La Terraza is most enjoyable on a warm afternoon. With a light breeze under the trees, the sound of running water from the square’s wraparound fountains and fabulous food and drink, it’s my perfect escape.
— Mark Cameron, account manager, Rome, Italy
A lush hideaway by Hampstead Heath
The Spaniards Inn right next to Hampstead Heath. [The lush] garden at the back makes you feel far away from city life. The perfect spot to spend lazy afternoons.
— Jesse Vaisanen, investment manager, London, UK
Go with the flow near Hammersmith Bridge
The Dove pub near Hammersmith Bridge — lovely beer and watching the river from the deck outside is sublime.
— Barry Campbell, financial markets, Edinburgh, UK
A wine romance in Mayfair
Shepherd Market Wine House in Mayfair. Great for date night with your bae. Also has the best wine selection, all price ranges, and you don’t feel like you’re in Mayfair!
— Anita Siassios, lawyer, London, UK
A post-stroll snifter at a historic Highgate pub
If you end up in Highgate village, head to The Flask near St Michael’s Church, a very old pub with tiny rooms and dark bendy passages. Nevertheless, the best part is really the outdoor area shielded from the street, which is perfect for an aperitif or even a (late, maybe) Sunday roast after a walk on nearby Hampstead Heath.
— Nicola Marinelli, lecturer and fund manager, London, UK
From panoramic Primrose Hill views to Richmond’s Bavarian biergarten
Head to Primrose Hill on a clear evening to get the best views of London. Go first to the nearby Regent’s Park Road to grab drinks at Bottle Apostle and then pick up some snacks from the well-stocked Shepherd Foods convenience store.
In Richmond, head to Stein’s, a Bavarian beer garden with the best river views and a relaxed atmosphere. You can enjoy a great German weissbier (wheat beer) with typical Bavarian staples like bratwurst or schnitzel.
— Juan Alfredo Picasso, management consultant, London, UK
French café society spills outdoors in Marylebone
Clarette. It’s in the heart of Marylebone and it’s very cosy. I love it for its French charm. The atmosphere outside on the terrace is very friendly — every time I’ve been I was surrounded by nice people. The staff are attentive and there is a lengthy wine list, since one of the co-owners is of the Château Margaux family.
It’s always a pleasure to go there. We really love the food too.
— Mihnea Fodor, tennis player
A prime spot for people-watching just off the King’s Road
Vardo belongs to the Caravan group so you know they do great coffee but they serve a a more refined menu (vs Caravan) serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner housed in a unique stone and glass pavilion in the middle of Duke of York Square.
In the summer the glass windows are fully retractable and the outdoor seating let’s you enjoy the world go by.
— Hanief Ardiasyah, Global Head of FP&A, London, UK
Splendid isolation in north London
Highgate Woods on a summer Sunday when the crowd has gone abroad. The café there has much to offer you.
— Guy Taylor, researcher, London, UK
What’s your favourite outdoor watering hole in London? Share your tip in the comments
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