As London prepares to ease out of lockdown, it’s a relief to be able to get out of the house and socialise with friends and family (up to six people, of course).
But as restrictions dictate that only people who live in the same household or are in the same support bubble can socialise together indoors, a good knowledge of London’s best restaurants with heated outdoor spaces has become essential.
Luckily for Londoners, though, this city is known for its extensive selection of brilliant restaurants and bars which, although close at 11pm per the curfew, are often equipped with large outdoor terraces and heaters.
Here you’ll find an ever-growing list of some of London’s best restaurants which are home to heated open-air spaces where you’re safe to meet up with pals for food and drink without breaking restrictions or, you know, losing the use of your fingers.
Bluebird White City
Bluebird White City has teamed up with Cambridge Gin for a Christmassy makeover this winter with a twinkling light installation and pretty garlands which have been swept across the terrace.
Additional heaters have been put in alongside blankets and faux sheepskins to cover the seats to ensure guests stay warm and toasty.
Throughout December there is also a festive set menu priced at £30 per person with options such as Cambridge Gin cured salmon, pickled cucumber and dill mayo, roast Norfolk turkey with roast potato, carrots, parsnips, pigs in blankets and gravy.
Aquavit is the place to go for top notch dining with a Nordic twist. Situated in an ideal location in the middle of town in St James’s Market, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus and therefore perfectly placed as a central meet-up spot for friends.
But it’s the menu that will really make you sit up in your seat. Aquavit proudly boasts a Michelin star and it’s easy to understand why once you’ve tasted the unique flavours of its interesting dishes, which feel very different from the other restaurants in the area.
Standout dishes include the herring smörgåsbord with mustard, dill and lingonberry to start and the beef rydberg with crispy potatoes, caramelised onion and a confit egg yolk cracked on top for main. When it comes to dessert, the Arctic bird’s nest is a visual sensation with unexpected flavours and textures.
Aquavit has a selection of tables outside which are perfect for watching the world go by. There are heaters but as always, we would recommend wrapping up warm.
HIDE in Mayfair may be a beautiful restaurant, but you can enjoy parts of its Michelin-starred menu while sitting on the terrace with a glorious view out of Green Park.
It is the creation of chef Ollie Dabbous and Hedonism Wines, so expect innovative dishes inspired by nature and using unusual produce. Plus, incredible cocktail and wine pairings which we would recommend indulging in.
From the terrace, you’re able to order the HIDE Ground menu which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a sizeable a la carte menu.
If you’re keen to explore Richmond then there’s one place to put right at the top of your must-visit list: the Bingham Riverhouse.
This charming hotel and restaurant has one of the best views of the area, looking out to the steadily flowing river and the beautiful trees that frame it, while serving up high quality food and drinks (especially the cocktails!).
The newly launched Riverhouse Garden Terrace is perfect for the current restrictions where only single households can meet inside.
The space is open from Thursday night through to Sunday, from 2pm until 10pm. Here, you can enjoy a heated space filled with twinkling lights and flickering candles, blankets and live DJ sets at the weekends.
Homeslice is the ultimate haven if you’re looking for tasty grub. Known for their super sized portions, this chain of restaurants serve up whopping 20 inch pizzas whole or by the slice, which will keep you warm even on the coldest days.
Luckily, though, Homeslice’s Shoreditch and Marylebone restaurants also feature heated terraces where you can snuggle up and stay toasty.
Double Standard at The Standard
You might know The Standard hotel for its swish rooms but have you given its outdoor terrace a chance to impress you yet?
This atmospheric open-air setting was a firm favourite of Londoners throughout summer and now it has been given a cosy makeover ready for the winter months. Snuggle up in front of its crackling fire pit under the glowing festoon lighting and sheepskin furs.
From Monday to Sunday you can enjoy hearty fare accompanied by draft beers and classic cocktails for lunch and casual drinking and dining throughout the evening. Plus, there’s even a bottomless brunch with a DJ at the weekend if you’re in the party mood. This terrace is set to be one of the city’s cosiest spots to curl up in with friends this winter.
This hangout is situated just minutes from London Bridge, hidden away from the main road. It has a creative vibe and is a relaxed place to grab a drink with friends after work.
To comply with the tier two restrictions, Vinegar Yard has transformed its outdoor garden into a heated eating and drinking space with canopy cover and tables for up to six people.
There are a number of street food vendors on offer including Nanny Bill’s, Baba G’s, Sugo and Nik’s Kitchen, serving up grub from all over the world.
Vinegar Yard’s bar has a selection of drinks on offer including homemade mulled wine and hot apple cider, perfect for warming up on a chilly day.
Koya in the City has a large outdoor space with room enough for 50 guests in its covered and heated terrace, which is a snuggly place to sit come rain or shine.
What’s more, this Japanese udon noodle hotspot not only provides warming decor to keep you feeling toasty, but delicious bowls of steaming noodle dishes, which are sure to help keep winter’s bite at bay.
We particularly like the sound of the Buta Miso with pork mince and miso with spring onion and the Hiyashi Yasai Ten vegetable tempura. Yum.
Visit this mouth-watering pasta joint’s Westfield branch if you’re looking for a large, well-heated outdoor terrace to enjoy your freshly made carbonara.
If you’ve been doing some Christmas shopping at White City’s extensive range of stores, then this is the perfect place to take the weight off and enjoy delights such as seasonal prosecco slushies.
Plus, on Thursdays the restaurant offers its ‘Infinity Pasta’ menu where guests can enjoy an Aperol Spritz and unlimited plates of pasta for £25.
Flat Iron Square
Flat Iron Square is the place to be for a plethora of delicious food options in an easy-going space, with plenty of atmosphere.
There’s a large selection of independent food vendors to choose from including succulent fried chicken from Mother Clucker, fresh, hand-rolled pasta from La Nonna and Mexican-style tacos from Breddos – and that’s just the start.
You can book for up to six people in the outdoor seating area and keep cosy under the heaters while enjoying an eclectic vibe.
Barrafina is a small chain of London-based modern tapas restaurants serving up a fantastic selection of fish and seafood from both Spanish and British waters.
At the Dean Street site you’ll find not only lip-smacking dishes like scorpion fish, deep water mussels and sea urchins, but a heated outdoor terrace, too.
Huddle up in here in the thick of Soho with friends and watch the world go by from this snug spot, which has been erected especially for tier 2 restrictions.
There is still some fun to be had in London despite the tier 2 restrictions, and if you’re looking for party central you’ll need to catch the Tube to Paddington.
Pergola Paddington has a vibrant energy, an Instagrammable flower-covered terrace and tonnes of food and drinks options, making it a safe bet for a meet-up with friends.
Images: Vinegar Yard / courtesy of venues