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Restaurants in London with outside space: 5 al fresco dining rooms to book now

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Megan Murray
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Restaurants are opening up again, and what better way to see friends than to book an al fresco dining experience? Here’s our guide to London’s best outdoor restaurants.

After four long months of lockdown, there’s a lot of excitement around the re-opening of some of London’s most-loved restaurants. Once again we’ll have a place to meet friends, eat, drink and be merry. 

While this is cause for celebration, safety is still at the forefront of our minds. This means that we’re keen to prioritise dining at restaurants with outside areas, with plenty of space where we know we can social distance

If you’ve been looking forward to booking yourself a dinner date with your best friends but are now unsure of where is open, welcoming customers and, most importantly, is safe – we’ve created a nifty guide of the best al fresco restaurants in London for outdoor dining.

We’ve been careful to include a mix of locations, from a hip bistro in Brixton to a secret garden in Chelsea, these venues are not only stylish with great menus, but will allow you to dine out safely.

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  • Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden

    Petersham Nurseries’ Covent Garden branch, known as the vibrant Italian restaurant La Goccia, already has plenty of outdoor and open plan space which has no doubt made its re-opening easier.

    Guests are invited to dine inside or out in the secluded courtyard hidden between King and Floral Street. Here, you can sit in the middle of one of London’s busiest areas surrounded by lemon trees and fairy lights in a tranquil haven.

    The restaurant has always been inspired by Italy’s al fresco dining scene, inviting guests to enjoy a scoop of homemade sorbet, ice cream or a glass of granita in the sunshine. Come evening, you could sip on limoncello spritz and campari soda and pick some small plates for the table, such as anchovies with garlic, chilli and parsley and fried zucchini flowers.

    Opening hours: 11.30am-10pm, Wednesday to Saturday. 11.30am-6pm, Sunday.

    Address: 1 Floral Court, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9FB

  • The Laundry, Brixton

    The Laundry is Brixton’s ultra cool neighbourhood bistro, coffee and wine place, which has launched its new terrace so diners can eat outside and social distance.

    It’s a south-facing sun trap, with Parisian-style rattan chairs and chic marble tabes, perfect for taking shots of the grazing and sharing dishes.

    There’s also a great wine list which has been carefully curated to include refreshing rose and white wines for the warmer months. Please note, there are no bookings on the terrace, so be mindful that you might want to ring ahead or refrain from coming with a large group.

    Opening times: 8am-11pm, Monday to Wednesday. 8am-midnight, Thursday to Saturday. 9am-11pm, Sunday.

    Address: The Laundry at Walton Lodge, 374 ColdHarbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8PL

  • Vinegar Yard, London Bridge

    Vinegar Yard is an open-air street food hub located just by London Bridge, tucked away from the usual hustle and bustle.

    A great place for grabbing a casual bite to eat, the space is populated by six street food vendors serving up a mix of Indian inspired burgers and pachos, authentic Italian street food, hand-pressed burgers and croquettes and much more.

    As tables have traditionally been shared by all guests, Vinegar Yard has made a lot of changes to ensure that the venue is Covid-19 safe. For example, you must obtain a track and trace ticket from the website to enter, no more than six people in a group will be admitted and you must stay sat at your table at all times.

    Opening hours: 5pm-10pm, Monday to Wednesday. 5pm-11pm, Thursday. 5pm-midnight, Friday. 11am-midnight, Saturday. 11am-8pm, Sunday.

    Address: Vinegar Yard, 72-82 St Thomas St, London SE1 3QU

  • Stanley's, Chelsea

    This secret garden sits in the middle of Chelsea and is inspired by the character and charm of historic English country houses. Like a breath of fresh air, it’s hidden from the busyness of King’s Road and the shopping district, as a relaxed, comfortable place to share some food and drinks. 

    The outdoor space has been redesigned to ensure it’s social distancing safe, with plenty of room and big, plump seats to sink into and while away the afternoon.

    Stanley’s menu is about finding the beauty in simplicity and serving quality, honest food with the best possible ingredients. We like the sound of the Westcombe cheddar doughnuts with burnt leek or sourdough crumpet with Cornish crab and potted shrimp, both of which sound tastier than anything we’ve made at home over the last few months!

    Opening hours: 10.30am-11.30pm, Monday to Saturday. 10.30am-7.30pm, Sunday.

    Address: 151 Sydney St, Chelsea, London, SW3 6NT

  • The Nest, Marylebone

    The Nest is a rooftop bar with impressive 360 views of London’s skyline from atop of swish hotel, Treehouse London. 

    The vibe feels laid back and bohemian, with decor touches like layered Berber rugs on the floor, rattan lampshades covering the mass of glowing, suspended ceiling lights and a textured mix of throws and cushions. Saying that, The Nest has an unapologetically glamorous edge, too. 

    The menu is rooted in the UK, featuring a range of British suppliers and hearty dishes such as corn-fed chicken breast with heritage tomatoes and spring onion salad, along side steak and chips. 

    There’s plenty of space on the roof terrace and tables have been positioned two metres away from each other for social distancing, while servers will be wearing Liberty London face masks which are also available for guests to buy.

    Opening hours: 8am-1am, Monday to Saturday. 8am-10pm, Sunday

    Address: 14-15 Langham Pl, Marylebone, London W1B 2QS

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Images: The Nest / courtesy of venues

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.