Wrap up warm and head to one of these enchanting winter rooftop and terrace bars and restaurants in London this Christmas time.
The evenings may be getting shorter, but a rooftop bar or terrace is still one of our favourite places to be. Swap a summer dress for a cashmere scarf, a glass of rosé for a hot cocktail and a pink sunset for twinkling fairy lights, and you’re ready to feel full-on festive.
Thanks to seasonal installations and festive makeovers, sky-high venues reign supreme all year round – and we have to say that this Christmas, there are some absolute crackers in the capital.
To help you find the right bar for you, we’ve handpicked the most magical winter rooftops and terraces in the city. From a seasonally changing canopy of flowers which is currently rust coloured and cosy to a pop-up ice rink and fairy-lit igloos, it’s going to be a very merry Christmas.
German Gymnasium's winter terrace
We’ve always loved the festive vibes of Kings Cross’s German Gymnasium but this Christmas they’ve outdone themselves with this cute terrace.
In partnership with Maker’s Mark bourbon whisky, the terrace is serving up a new special menu especially for December, with some of the most delicious cocktails you’ll try in 2019.
There’s something for everyone: from the Maker’s Milk which is served in a miniature milk bottle and tastes like a drinkable dessert (think Kahlua, rum, vanilla, double cream and egg white) to the restaurant’s sweet, fruity take on mulled wine. Oh, and while you’re there make sure you try the signature hot dog, which will make you feel like you’re at a real German Christmas market.
London Secret Garden's winter domes
This winter, exploring London Secret Garden’s cosy domes is an absolute must. Not only can you book you and your friends in for dinner and enjoy an evening under the stars, but any big music fans out there will be thrilled to know each one is named after a different icon. From George Michael to Prince, the domes each have their own theme, which we love. You can book a dome for up to 10 people any day of the week, from 9am to 10pm.
The Dalloway Terrace in Bloomsbury is famed for its seasonally changing decor that reflects the colours and blooms from winter to summer. We particularly love its winter makeover which features frost-dusted pine cones, glowy lighting and cosy throws (perfect for snuggling up in). The theme takes inspiration from Gstaad, one of the most desirable ski locations in the world, and is designed to emulate its snowy beauty and glamorous lifestyle.
If you visit the Dalloway Terrace, though, don’t just go for a drink – the food is pretty spectacular too. Think the freshest of fish, such as grilled organic salmon and tiger prawns, alongside winter warmers including wild mushroom risotto and warm artichoke salad.
Emerald City at Queen of Hoxton
This is a winter rooftop, but not as you usually know it. Instead of alpine references and Christmassy touches, the Queen of Hoxton has gone for a theme that really stands out from the crowd.
This year the venue is transporting guests to the Wizard of Oz’s Emerald City. Climb the yellow brick road to a cosy green wigwam, Kansas-style food and witchy-themed events, which will all be going on until May 2021.
There are hot cocktails to be drinking and marshmallows to be toasting, to cater for your seasonal side, but we love that this place is offering a unique winter experience.
The Churchill Bar and Terrace
History buffs need not look further than The Churchill Bar’s terrace with its faux fur rugs, cosy blankets and tasteful nods to the man himself.
To mark the festive season, their new cocktail menu, “Shades of Winston Churchill”, is inspired by the different facets of former British prime minister Winston Churchill’s life and classic British favourites, such as eggs with cress and apple with crumble. “The Traveller”, for instance, is a unique twist on jacket potatoes and baked beans, while “The Artist” reinterprets English Breakfast tea and milk.
Pair these innovative flavour combinations with sweet and savoury foods, such as a peanut butter mousse, spicy strawberry jelly, and pea and carrot arancini.
Cartoonist Zoom Rockman’s artworks depicting the private and public life of Churchill will also be showcased on the terrace.
Wright Brothers Soho
Wright Brothers has launched its own winter hideaway, where guests can enjoy warming tipples while nestled under cosy blankets, surrounded by warmly lit copper lanterns and the twinkling lights of Kingly Court.
In collaboration with gin specialists Sipsmith, this snug winter terrace is serving up festive gin cocktails inspired by London’s Frost Fairs and the revival of the traditional tipple: hot gin. We love the look of the mulled gin and gingerbread and chocolate orange espresso martini.
Plus, Wright Brothers’ popular seafood dishes aren’t to be missed either. Specialties include shrimp and chilli croquettes, oyster platters and much more.
If skiing in the Swiss alps is not on the cards for you this year, don’t worry because pop-up bar LAAX baby! is bringing the après-ski to you. Tucked away in the heart of London, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve woken up in a European chalet.
Sip on a wide range of alpine cocktails, including rocks negroni (One Sage Gin infused with dried winter fruits, Campari and Sweet Vermouth) and “the perfect winter warmer” La Siala (Hot One Sage Gin and Mulled Cider).
There is also a specially curated food menu with a choice of traditional delicacies, including a traditional Swiss cheese fondue, made from a blend Le Gruyere AOP, Schlossberger and Reblochon Cheese, melted down with white wine and a splash of kirsch.
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 Scottish whisky brand Talisker to bring the spirit to the Scottish highlands to London – and it’s safe to say they’ve succeeded.
Each igloo is festooned with faux fur and wool rugs, twinkling lights and an artificial wood burner; the last word in ‘cosiness’. Plus, on offer are a selection of mouth-watering sharing platters – including the delicious sweetcorn and chorizo croquettes – alongside delicious twists on traditional drinks like the decadent Talisker campfire hot chocolate. 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.
Note: booking is essential.
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.
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 a selection of street food vendors.
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.
Images: Courtesy of venues