We live in one of the greatest cities in the world, and sometimes you just want to get a look at it, you know? Mind you – there’s a fair few places to do that (Sky Garden, The Shard, The London Eye), but how many of them let you have a great meal while doing so?
The joy of dining with an outlook truly cannot be overstated. It elevates your experience to new heights (pun intended) and proves that setting and food truly can be equally as important when it comes to restaurants.
Unfortunately, a lot of places capitalise on the views without putting as much time or emphasis onto the food, charging astronomical prices for sub-standard dishes and average drinks in restaurants that end up being nothing more than oversubscribed tourist traps.
Here in London, one of the best cities in the world for dining, you’re a little spoilt for choice when it comes to dining destinations with views over the city’s wonders – old and new, natural and man made – and we’ve dug out the good ones, both in the sky and on the ground, that give you more than just a feast for the eyes.
14 restaurants with a view in London
Duck & Waffle
110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY
It might be top of every tourist's list, but Duck and Waffle is far from a gimmick. Open 24 hours throughout the tail end of the week, it’s not simply the panoramic views of the city that serve as the drawcard here, but also the fact that you can sidle up at 4am for a hefty plate of waffles, slow cooked duck leg and mustard maple syrup. It might not seem like your standard midnight fare but trust us, it’s something special.
The Portrait Restaurant
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE
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Imagine if someone took most of London's iconic buildings – Big Ben, Westminster Abbey; The London Eye; Nelson's Column, and well, yeah, you get it – and arranged them conveniently in one expansive panorama, and you basically have the view from The Portrait Restaurant. The eatery, which sits atop the National Portrait Gallery, was recently taken over by Richard Corrigan, and food is underpinned by his classic approach to simple perfection. Expect the classic Bentley's oysters with Vietnamese dressing, elegant steamed whole artichoke with crab mayonnaise, and perfectly grilled lamb chops accompanied by a highly drinkable wine list. A turn through the gallery (which has also recently been given a face lift) followed by lunch in the restaurant is about as quintessential London afternoon as they come.
15th Floor, 1 Electric Boulevard, SW11 8BJ
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The first thing that strikes you when you enter JOIA is the colour palette; millennial pink, as far as the eye can see. That is, until you clock the view. With sweeping vistas over the recently renovated Battersea Power Station to the river and Chelsea beyond, it's a pretty spectacular bird's eye view of an area of London that has undergone swift and thorough redevelopment. If anything will distract you from that bold colour scheme and impressive outlook, though, it's the food. Two-Michelin-starred Portuguese chef Henrique Sá Pessoa has designed a menu inspired by his roots and the Iberian peninsula, so expect big flavours and oodles seafood. Don't leave without taking a quick trip to the rooftop, poolside bar, it's the perfect place for a pre or post-dinner cocktail.
40 Blackfriars Road, SE1 8PB
The only thing that can beat a sunny lunch of seafood by the sea is a sunny lunch of seafood on a rooftop in central London with sweeping views across the city (if you squint one eye and tilt your head slightly the Thames can look…. slightly tropical?). Seabird has gained something of a cult following for its enormous terrace, killer views and modern seafood menu that includes the city’s longest oyster list and a serious cocktail selection to ensure your meal is a jolly one.
Galvin at Windows
22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE
The Galvin Brothers’ restaurant at the top of the Hilton Park Lane has been a must-visit for a fair few years now, with their brand of elegant, French-accented British fine-dining food complemented by – as the name suggests – giant windows that offer incredible views of Mayfair, Hyde Park and out across the capital. It’s the kind of place that’s a hit with tourists but still very much delivers on the food front, with affordable set menus in place for those who don’t quite feel they can stretch to the full tasting menu.
Tower 42, 25 Old Broad St, EC2N 1HQ
Jason Atherton’s restaurant empire shows no sign of slowing down into its second decade – that’s probably because his reputation is still furnished by the excellent Pollen Street Social and City Social restaurants, which have both retained Michelin stars and acclaim pretty much since they opened. For a show-stopping dinner with a view, the latter is the place to head to – through a reasonably inconspicuous passage into Tower 42 in the City and up a lift to the 24th floor. There’s a cracking bar, Social24, too, for a drink before or after dinner.
85 Piccadilly, W1J 7NB
You don’t have to be at the top of a skyscraper to hoover up classic London views – sometimes the first floor’s enough. Ollie Dabbous’s HIDE is a three-storey venue, with a basement bar and a more casual offering at ground level, but head up the show-stopping steam-bent oak staircase to Hide Above – the space that earned the restaurant a Michelin star for its beautiful tasting menus – and if you’re lucky you’ll snag a table in front of the floor-to-ceiling window that looks out onto Green Park. It’s like being ported into a cinema playing a slice of haute-couture West London life.
10th Floor, 10 Argyle St, WC1H 8EG
Perched atop the achingly cool Standard Hotel is the equally as achingly cool Decimo. Part restaurant, part lively bar, part late-night joint, the rooftop is ticking all the boxes for fun restaurants – including the food. While it could easily ride on the coattails of its location and incredible views of St Pancras Station and the city beyond, Decimo turns out some great food too. Expect to feast on a menu that explores the intersection between Mexican and Spanish food, with dishes like jamon croquetas and iberico pork alongside tacos and aguachile. Just make sure to visit when you’re feeling flush – this is one for payday.
The Shard, 33 St Thomas St, SE1 9RY
Look, you’re not at Hutong for an affordable meal. Nobody enters The Shard expecting to leave with a heavy wallet. That simply is not the point. These are spectacular views and you are paying for them as such. But here at Foodism we don’t like to simply bosh a restaurant on a list for any old reason – the food needs to match up. Thankfully, here, it’s almost as good as the views. Does that mean you can justify spending £95 on a whole peking duck? That decision is, ultimately, up to you – but sitting at the window looking at the entire city sprawling below, you’ll realise it’s not the money that matters because, as cheesy as it may be, you can’t slap a price tag on that view.
1 Sky Garden Walk, EC3M 8AF
Spots at the Walkie Talkie’s Sky Garden have been in near-constant demand since the skyscraper opened a few years ago, with a regular queue snaking out to the street for the right to go up and have a drink in front of one of the best panoramic views of pretty much any big city in the world. Our tip? Grab a table at Fenchurch instead – food at the building’s flagship restaurant was always decent, but the installation of chef Michael Carr has seen a flagship tasting menu influenced by years spent in Michelin-starred kitchens, framed around classic dishes with new-school flourishes. Those lucky enough to snag a table by the window will have plenty to look at during the meal in the form of a tableau of our fair city that stretches right to the horizon.
Le Pont de la Tour
36D Shad Thames, SE1 2YE
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With unparalleled views over Tower Bridge and a solid menu of French food – plus the option to go more formal in the dining room, or a little more laid back in the bistrot – Le Pont de la Tour is a solid place to park up come rain or shine. Be sure to make a beeline for the terrace on sunny days, but wintertime dining doesn’t have to mean you’re missing out on the outlook, just be sure to ask for a table by the windows. While we can’t promise a boat will come past during your meal, you’ll have the perfect viewpoint of the bridge opening to let it pass – a true London must-see.
Oxo Tower Restaurant
Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House St, SE1 9PH
Fancy your meal with a side of some of the best views in London? The Oxo Tower is something of an underdog when it comes to dining with a view. It may not be the tallest, not the most obvious choice, but with its prime position on the Thames it offers an unrivalled outlook over both the water below and St Pauls and The City beyond, the perfect tapestry of old and new London. Dining options range from the casual bar, to the informal bistro and slightly more refined restaurant – so take your pick, settle in, and play the world’s best game of architectural I Spy.
Sea Containers London
20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD
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On the other side of the river, the excellent Sea Containers London is chock-full of excellent venues, and both Sea Containers Restaurant and Mr Lyan’s genre-topping bar Lyaness in their own way are great people-watching spots, right on the river with a view of the skyline over to St Paul’s Cathedral. But for a hidden gem you might not have thought of, head upstairs to the 12th floor to the appropriately named 12th Knot, a rooftop bar, restaurant and terrace that ports those views up and out. Regular takeovers with cool drinks brands will make sure you’re topped up with great cocktails, too.
8 St. Martin's Place, WC2N 4JH
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It could be argued that one of the least pleasant places to be in London is being jostled left right and centre by the crowds on a busy day at Trafalgar Square, dodging tourists and determined businessmen alike as they make their way down the strand in a relentless stream. It’s a shame, given the area’s beauty and historical significance. Why bother? Why not hide away at Bisushima instead, where you can dine on a sushi and sashimi-heavy menu of incredible Japanese food, and wash it down with an impressive cocktail, all the while getting bird’s eye views of Trafalgar Square and the thronging hordes below. Life hack.
Hawksmoor Wood Wharf
1 Water St, E14 5GX
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Views don’t always have to involve iconic sights or towering heights – they can simply involve a body of water and the sunset beaming off surrounding skyscrapers. That’s exactly what the Hawksmoor at Wood Wharf boasts – an outlook over the surrounding waterways and the glinting towers of Canary Wharf. It truly is a site to behold, with a slight NYC feel to it that can quickly transport you across the Atlantic. Couple that with the restaurant’s incredible menu and award-winning steaks and you have a meal to impress.
The Stratford, 20 International Way, E20 1FD
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Sitting on the 7th floor of The Stratford Hotel, Allegra is one of the coolest restaurants in the eponymous borough that is quietly shaking off its Olympic reputation. With Patrick Powell at the helm, Allegra is as much about what’s on the menu as it is about the incredible locale and the to-die-for views – the euro-centric, seasonal produce-focused menu sees hints of Powell’s home country of Ireland littered throughout.
The Rooftop, 133A Rye Ln, SE15 4BQ
If you want to eat your dinner face to face with the London skyline, pop down to Peckham for an evening of wine, cocktails and snacks at Forza Wine. Residing on the rooftop of the Market Peckham just a minute's walk from Peckham Rye station, this high-altitude wine bar serves up frozen daiquiri playfulness, panoramic views and a menu of snacks. And these aren't just any snacks – we're talking antipasti with girth. Think plates piled high with cauliflower fritti dredged through aioli, charred flatbreads topped with tender braised lamb and warming bowls of chickpea, ham hock and girolles embellished with an oozing poached egg yolk. So, if an evening of snaffable snacks, carafes of low-intervention wine and rose-tinted sunsets tickles your pickle, Forza Wine is calling your name. Can't get a table at the Peckham spot? No problem. The sister restaurant has just opened at the National Theatre, serving up equally scenic views of the Thames.