Best restaurants with a view in London: find out the top tables that set the scene
A skyline that etches the city’s history onto the landscape, from medieval monuments to 21st-century towers that pierce the clouds and shimmer in the sunlight. The wending, weaving River Thames, spanned by fairytale-like Tower Bridge and the futuristic curves of Millennium Bridge. Leafy, immaculately landscaped Royal parks with ornate pagodas and lakes dotted with ducks and geese.
There are inspiring sights at every turn in the UK’s capital, and the best restaurants with a view in London bring these vistas into the dining room. I lived in the city for more than a decade and, aside from occasions that call for a candlelit nook, always seek places that offer a different perspective. From panoramic windows framing a tapestry of rooftops to tables surrounded by greenery, here are some of my favourite places to eat with a view.
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1. For brunch: Start the day surrounded by city skyscrapers
Duck & Waffle bills itself as the highest 24-hour restaurant in London and has achieved something of a legendary status since first opening in 2012. The restaurant spans the 40th floor of Heron Tower, in the heart of the city. Any ear-popping and stomach-flipping in the speedy elevator ride that whizzes guests up is nothing compared to the head-spinning views.
The building is embedded into the skyline and enormous windows mean every table feels like it’s floating within the mix of shiny skyscrapers and longstanding landmarks, too. You could spend all day grazing here (and that would be quite nice), though brunch dishes like the signature confit duck leg, served on a waffle, are a real treat.
2. For lunch: Have a special meal with a special view
It would be worth making a beeline for Pavilion Cafe for the location alone. All the tables, from the handful under the covered pier to those that spill outside, are right by Victoria Park’s lovely lake, swum by swans, geese and ducks. Visitors can graze while gazing across the water to the ornate Chinese Pagoda, a modern replica of the 19th- century original, and just watching joggers, strollers and dog walkers pass by.
Happily, though, the food at this spot in the East London park is also
worth a journey. The all-day menu features simple, satisfying classics
like cheese toasties, soups, omelettes and muffins, all prepared from
3. For dinner: Get fancy and enjoy dizzying London views
You may feel a little dizzy while dining at Aqua Shard. The windows are so tall and the glass so impossibly, sparklingly clean that it almost feels open to the outside. Each table is arranged so that no one misses out on the view. And what surroundings these are. Look in one direction and there’s the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Glance in another and there’s the Bank of England and Old Billingsgate Market, dwarfed by skyscrapers.
The perfectly executed British fusion menu means any meal here – from
weekend brunch to afternoon tea — is special, though the views are
never lovelier than when the city is done up in its shimmering evening
4. Rooftop: Feel like you're part of London skyline
Coq d’Argent is a true Square Mile classic: This is where city workers come for long lunches or after-hours fun. The restaurant serves an ever-changing, seasonal menu of French, fine-dining cuisine. For views that really wow, though, grab a table on the heated terraces.
The restaurant’s position right in the heart of the financial district means the views are unrivalled, and clever planting means they’re framed by curtains of lush greenery. Make time to take a stroll around the rooftop gardens, too. As manicured as a maze in the grounds of a country manor house, they sprawl out below some of London’s most familiar towers, so it feels like you’re part of the skyline.
5. Romantic: Book a table for two with lovely views
Dining at Le Pont de la Tour is like straddling London and Paris at the same time. It really doesn’t come much more romantic than this. This riverside spot combines French flair, from the brasserie-style menu to strains of live jazz, with the closest, clearest view of Tower Bridge possible (short of standing on it).
Many of the indoor tables have views thanks to picture windows, but it’s the terrace – jutting towards the river and sheltered by a striped awning — that really makes the most of the setting. Share platters of oysters or feast on dishes like duck confit tart and Dover sole meunière while soaking up the dreamy surroundings.
6. River views: Dine in a historic tower or, maybe, in a shipping container
You can’t miss the OXO Tower. The building, with its copper spire and the distinctive “OXO” lettering that’s illuminated in red after dark, has been a fixture of London’s South Bank since the late 18th century, when it was built as a power station for Royal Mail. Now it’s a mixed-use space with a handful of art studios, apartments and a rooftop restaurant that has arguably the best river views around.
It may not be quite so lofty as some of the newer spots in town, but that doesn’t really matter. Dine on seasonal British fare from the top floor, divided into restaurant, brasserie and bar, and watch boats cruise along the water below.