Food

London’s most Christmassy winter rooftops and terraces

Posted by
Megan Murray
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If you’re not already feeling festive, one of these Christmassy outdoors spaces is sure to get you in the spirit.

As any true Londoner knows, the only place to be in the height of summer is a rooftop bar or restaurant. But where do city dwellers go when the temperature drops? Do they hole-up in bunker somewhere? Absolutely not.

Thanks to seasonal installations and festive makeovers, sky-high venues reign supreme all year round - and this Christmas, there are some absolute crackers in the capital.

Nothing feels more deliciously cosy than curling up under a throw, grasping a hot cocktail in your hands and gazing up at a winter night’s sky. And thanks to the increasingly early nightfall (we’re trying to find some positives), you won’t have to wait long to spot the stars and enjoy the sparkling lights of the city’s skyline.

To help you find the right bar for you, we’ve handpicked the most magical winter rooftops and terraces in the city. From an alpine pop up that comes complete with ski lift cable cars, to the Rosewood’s enchanted forest and hidden winter lodge, read on to get booking now.

Coq d’Argent 

Coq d’Argent 

If you’re in need of a central city escape, this opulent restaurant ought to do the trick. You’ll find the lift to Coq d’Argent slap bang in the middle of Bank, but as soon as you walk out of those retracting doors and onto the open air terrace, you’ll forget the hustle and bustle of London instantly.

With attentive staff and an impressive wine menu, this French eatery is a haven from spring to winter. And thanks to its recent Christmassy make-over, we’ll be making more than one visit this December. 

We defy even a Grinch not to get in the festive spirit while sitting surrounded by traditional Christmas firs (all sprinkled with snow, of course) and snuggled in an ice-white sheepskin blanket. 

Make a reservation here.

Skylight

Skylight

If you want to skate yourself silly, then East London rooftop Skylight is the place.

Located a short walk from Shadwell Station, the uber cool bar and (temporary) ice rink sits among the Tabacco Docks in a converted car park, with incredible views of the London skyline.

The multi-levelled space has lots of outdoors benches and cosy seats for those wishing to sip seasonal cocktails and mulled wine under the stars. When things get chillier you can wander down to the enclosed area, where your cockles will be well and truly warmed with the ultimate winter treat: melted cheese. That’s right, this hipster hangout is taking a nod from our French cousins across the water and serving heated bowls of cheese (£14.50) and chocolate fondue (£7).

Ice skating tickets are £10 each and can only be bought at the venue. Check out the menu and see more here.

Queen of Hoxton 

Queen of Hoxton

Sick of Santa, but still want to take advantage of a cosy, wintertime rooftop? The Queen of Hoxton has got your back.

This East London venue is renowned for the annual unveiling of its rooftop, and teases Londoners from the beginning of autumn with its latest theme. But this year its our favourite yet as the rooftop has been transformed into a 1900s-inspired Parisian drinking destination, Lady Celeste’s. Think the bohemian excesses of Moulin Rouge, straight from the smoggy back-alleys of Montmartre.

Expect velvet drapes, elaborate decorations and even a windmill or two… There might not be a sprig of mistletoe in sight, but there’s certainly an absinthe bar and who can argue with that?

Queen of Hoxton do not take bookings for the rooftop but you can see more about the venue here.

Proud

Proud

Proud Camden is known for its legendary club nights, but its roof is host to a fairy-lit land of winter wonder that you can enjoy whether you’re a late-night-owl or not.

Following on from the success of its summer terrace, the clever people behind this bar and club decided to give it, as they say, “a winter makeover with outdoor heaters, fully covered pergolas and layer upon layer of leafy green foliage wrapped in twinkly fair lights”. What more could we possibly want?

Being above the busy streets of Camden you couldn’t be in a better place to enjoy the nightlife of North of London, making this a prime spot for Saturday night drinks.

Make a reservation here.

Rosewood London

Rosewood London

This outside winter space may not be above the rooftops, but rest assured, a visit is still well worth your time. The Rosewood Hotel’s iconic courtyard has been transformed into a winter forest, which also hides a magical-looking Christmas lodge. 

Taking inspiration from a winter’s scene in the remote Livet valley in Scotland, the Glade brings the outside in, welcoming guests into an unspoilt world of the Scottish Highlands.

Guests can snuggle under fur blankets, sip on warming whisky cocktails and feast on sweet and savoury treats from the Holborn Dining Room kitchen. The Glenlivet Glade cocktail menu champions Scottish whisky, serving modern twists on a selection of hot and cold whisky cocktails, such as the Speyside Coffee which is a twist on the better-known Irish coffee. This cocktail uses The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish to give a smoky character, and is served hot along with fresh coffee and an orange, cinnamon and ginger foam. 

Make a reservation here.

The Trafalgar St. James London

The Trafalgar St. James London

With the Pall Mall and Buckingham Palace on one side, and the historic Trafalgar Square and National Gallery on the other, you couldn’t be in more of prime London spot than at The Trafalgar St. James London. This hotel has it all: from the baby-blue marble bar downstairs to the super slick suites and, of course, the reason we’re all here, the atmospheric rooftop bar and restaurant. 

The views from this sky-high space show off the bright lights of some of the city’s most loved tourist attractions and landmarks, and with both alfresco and covered seating you can choose how close to the action you want to be. 

The hotel is known for crafting exceptional cocktails as well as having a respected wine list, complimented by its selection of small plates. The menu includes delicacies such as crispy lamb belly, king oyster mushroom, steamed buns or a selection of grill options. 

Reservations are recommended: you can make one here

Aviary’s Rooftop Igloos

Aviary’s rooftop igloos, with their panoramic views of London from the top of luxury hotel, Montcalm Royal, are always a festive fave. This year they’ve partnered with Icelandic vodka brand Reyka to bring the Scandi-spirit to life – and it’s safe to say they’ve succeeded. 

Each igloo is festooned with faux fur rugs, twinkling lights and an artificial wood burner; the last word in ‘cosiness’. Plus, on offer are a selection of seasonally-appropriate sharing platters – including one skewer called ‘Christmas on a stick’ – alongside delicious twists on traditional cocktails. Igloos can accommodate up to 10 people, so it’s the perfect excuse to get all your gal pals together for a night under the stars.

Running from November to March, doors are open seven days a week, 12am – 8pm. Booking essential; head here

Radio Rooftop Bar

Radio Rooftop Bar

Radio Rooftop Bar is getting a very festive revamp, thanks to its alpine pop-up: #ApresWithaView. Based on French skiing destination Courchevel, which is known for its amazing party scene and beautiful, snowy views, the bar has gone above and beyond to make its winter sport theme apparent. 

Added to the bar’s outside terrace will be an installation of private cable cars, all decked out with faux fur throws and surrounded by candles and fire pits. We couldn’t think of anything more atmospheric. 

As usual there will be roof-raising DJs playing, but if you don’t fancy shaking a tail feather, snuggle up inside one of the private cars and enjoy seasonal offerings such as spiced rum eggnog served in chocolate cups, or truffle cheese fondue and charcuterie.

Radio Rooftop Bar’s #ApresWithaView will be open from 1 December.

Madison

Madison

Madison bar is perfect to visit at any time of the year, thanks to its breathtaking views over St Paul’s, but its winter makeover has made this place truly special.

Hidden atop of the One New Change shopping centre, this rooftop setting mixes flush and festiveness with gorgeous furnishings, an air of exclusivity and (especially for Christmas) a healthy dose of fondue. 

While there are spots under cover (and a beautiful glass-fronted restaurant), we recommend heading out into the open if you’re lucky enough to visit on a dry day. Here, you can cuddle up under a faux fur blanket and, surrounded by twinkling fairy-lights and winter branches, drink up those views (and a scrummy spiced cider, to boot).  

Make a reservation here.

Dalloway Terrace

Dalloway Terrace

As soon as we learned that this chic restaurant was named after the eponymous character created by pioneering feminist author Virginia Woolf (a favourite of stylist.co.uk), we knew it was one to visit. 

Set in the heart of the historic and vibrant Bloomsbury, London’s literary centre, the outdoor space is just a stone’s throw from Tottenham Court Road station. 

This year it has been transformed into a magical secret winter cabin, which is even more perfect thanks to its menu of hot cocktails and cheese fondue. Floristry experts, meanwhile, will be impressed to learn that a canopy of frosted foliage, ferns and pine cones has been designed by Wild at Heart especially for the seasonal update. 

Make a reservation here.

Gaucho Broadgate

Gaucho Broadgate

Gaucho has always been known for its delicious and premium quality steak, but now there’s another, much boozier reason to visit this well-known restaurant. Especially for Christmas, the Broadgate branch has launched a special expresso martini lounge pop-up (in association with fancy vodka brand Belvedere), which can be found in the establishment’s particularly stylish outdoors, glass bar. 

Gaucho’s Beverage Director, Dan Munt has created four exclusive cocktails for the occasion, all of which sound too good to not try. Expresso martini lovers can pick between a Classic Expresso Martini, Orange Martini, Dark Chocolate Martini or Chesnut Martini. 

The bar will be open throughout December. See more here.

Coppa Club

Coppa Club

The riverside domes at Coppa Club are as close as you’ll get to an igloo this side of the North Pole. Each transparent circular dining area is flourished with festive greenery and lit with mood-enhancing lights. What’s more, each comfy seat comes with a cosy sheepskin covering.

Indulge in some of their reasonably priced cocktails, or feel warmed by their delicious mains (we thoroughly recommend the fried chicken), but be sure to get there early: there are a very limited number of walk-in spaces available each day.

Make a reservation here.

Ladurée

Ladurée

Which of these beautiful cities would you rather spend Christmas in, Paris or London? Well, with Ladurée you can have your macaron, and eat it too.

Nestled in the iconic Covent Garden piazza on the terraced second floor of the huge Market Building, this whimsical patisserie is a simply scrumptious place to enjoy the festive lights. From the bijou Parisian-style balcony, you can people-watch all the Christmas shoppers buzzing around below you, and, of course, marvel at the 55ft Christmas tree, too. 

See more here.

Sky Garden

The Sky Garden is now home to a icy winter oasis pop-up in partnership with Moët & Chandon this winter.

Although this isn’t technically an open-air rooftop, we think the 360 views make it as good as, especially for those who can’t take the winter chill! From 23 November the Sky Pod Bar will transform into a frozen garden, decked in white and gold adornments alongside ice-covered sledges and a few cheeky penguins for good measure. 

The drinks selection sounds utterly decadent, with honey-truffle cocktails and boozy hot chocolate on offer. Just make sure you leave some room for the selection of wild boar sausage rolls and chestnut tarts. 

Make a reservation here.

John Lewis & Partners Sipsmith Winter Rooftop

John Lewis & Partners is famed for its adorable and now iconic Christmas adverts, but did you know the Oxford Street store is also a fantastically festive place to eat and drink the night away on the run up to 25 December?

Once you’ve had your fun down in the department store, make your way to the rooftop, where a skyline ice-rink awaits, along with 

Peer down onto the world-famous Oxford Street or take shelter in one of the warming lodges, where you can sip on seasonal cocktails such as Hot Mulled Sloe Gin or nibble on delicious pies from MYPIE.

The lodges are available to book until the 24 December. Make a reservation here.

Ritorno’s Campari winter terrace

Ritorno’s Campari winter terrace

Ritorno’s may be an elegant Italian restaurant, but this winter it will be embracing the cold weather of the Kings Road by turning its terrace into a mini-winter wonderland. Think sheepskin blankets and cushions, a silver birch enclosing the corner snug area and glittering willow branches flanking the entrance. 

Better still, the restaurant has also added some delicious, new cocktails to its menu. Work your way through the four festively-named creations for a very merry evening. 

Make a reservation here

J Sheekey 

J Sheekey 

If you’re a seafood fan, J Sheekey could be right up your street.

Conveniently nestled in between Leicester Square and Covent Garden, the restaurant offers seasonal favourites, such as fish stew with rouille, warm squid salad with slow roasted tomatoes and violet artichoke, and the Somerset Sour (whisked up with cider brandy, apple juice and maple syrup).

Make a reservation here

Pergola Paddington 

Pergola Paddington Central 

Pergola Paddington Central is back for winter and promises to be “tastier and toastier” than ever. The team behind the urban garden have taken major steps to ensure the alfresco dining space is equipped to deal with those harsh December winds, assuring customers they have, “fully covered, fully winter-proofed and fully prepared to ply you with the finest fare from some of the capital’s best independent eateries”.

And, with a range of street food vendors congregating from all corners of the capital, you can rest easy knowing that, whatever your preference, there’s something for you on the menu. 

Pergola Paddington Central is open until 23 December and then will re-open in February, so get down there while you can.

Make a reservation here.

Bernadi’s

Bernadi’s

This chic Italian restaurant in Marylebone has upped its winter game with an alpine-themed terrace: say hello to traditional fir trees, snuggly fur throws and twinkling fairy lights. The chefs have also transformed the menu with some seriously wintry options, including seasonal homemade pasta dishes, cicchetti and antipasti. Once you’ve had your fill of delicacies, turn your attention to the cocktail list, which has also had a delicious sound re-vamp. Word on the street is the Spicy Hot Negroni is one to try.

Make a reservation here.

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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.

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