It’s mid-July yet you’d never know it was summer. Granted, it wasn’t all that bad this weekend – the sun shone on Andy Murray on Sunday – and at moments like that you really fancy a refreshing drink or two while soaking up some vitamin D. Read on to discover our favourite terraces (no, we don’t mean rooftops) so you can dine al fresco, catch some rays and revel in the British summertime when the sun does eventually shine…
Historic 5-star hotel in St James’s
Nestled in the heart of Mayfair, The Stafford’s beautiful private cobbled courtyard is a private oasis from the hustle and bustle of nearby Piccadilly. The hotel’s American Bar serves an all day menu from breakfast through to lunch, dinner and cocktails, all best enjoyed outside in the courtyard. The Handbook recommends their hand-carved English ham with fried eggs and hash browns with your morning coffee under blue skies and sunshine – idyllic.
Where: 16-18 St James's Place, Mayfair, London, SW1A 1NJ, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.2 miles)
It’s rare to find a restaurant or bar that takes reservations on its terrace. At Boulestin, thankfully this is very much the case. The ultimate secluded spot for al fresco dining in the capital, Boulestin’s enchanting private courtyard is the smallest private courtyard in London today. Lit by the original Victorian gas lamps, the entrance is lined with historic panels from King Henry VIII’s tennis courts. Another historic touch – the courtyard is also the site of the last duel fought in England…
Where: Boulestin, Saint James's Street, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.3 miles)
Independent bar and restaurant
Boasting a fine looking roof terrace, No 32 The Old Town is the perfect neighbourhood spot for Clapham residents this summer. Serving breakfast and brunch alongside cleverly concocted cocktails, The Handbook recommends venturing here on a weekend. Try the Elderflower and Earl Grey Fizz cocktail to kick things off, while tucking into one of their all day brunch dishes such as blueberry ricotta pancakes or an avocado cheese toastie, content with the knowledge that you’re topping up the tan.
Where: No 32 The Old Town, The Pavement, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Clapham Common (0.2 miles)
Chiswick's Latest Addition
Another neighbourhood haunt, this recently opened restaurant in South West London is a home away from home in a former fire station. The previously forgotten courtyard space has been revived, offering the perfect setting for relaxed eating and drinking. Tuck into fresh food that focuses on well-sourced ingredients from breakfast and brunch to evening snacks and Sunday roasts.
Where: 197-199 Chiswick High Rd, London W4 2DR, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Turnham Green (0.4 miles)
Dinner and a Show
Penethorne’s is nestled in the newly refurbished New Wing at London landmark, Somerset House. Known for it’s impressive array of wonderful cocktails, it’s the perfect location for post-work drinks, especially come the summer when you can sit outside on their pretty courtyard, admiring not only the kick from your cocktail but also the grandeur and grace of Somerset House’s architecture. Try The Strand to warm up in the evening breeze – a mix of whiskey, cassis, homemade honey syrup, walnut bitters and ginger ale.
A stone’s throw from Regent’s Park, The Refinery’s spacious terrace is bedecked with potted plants and comfy armchairs ideal for outdoor lounging this summer. With seating for up to 100 guests, there’s a lovely buzz in the background while you sink into cosy seating and sip on a Summer Spritz – we love the Sipsmith Summer Cup with Prosecco, apricot and lemon with a luxurious seafood platter to nibble at: prawn lollipops, crispu squid, smoked salmon blinis, fish finger sliders, onion rings and chips.
An Indian Summer
Tucked within luxurious hotel, The Churchill, The Churchill Bar & Terrace is a convivial spot inspired by the late Sir Winston Churchill himself. This summer, the outdoor terrace has become a feast for the senses, playing on the feelings of frivolity and warmth, synonymous with an Indian summer. When there, expect a myriad of vivid fabrics and ornate decoration nodding to the theme, enticing you to soak up the surroundings and be transported to an exotic location over a balmy evening of cocktails.
An Olive Grove in East London
Only just launched this summer, you can now sit on an outdoor terrace surrounded by olive trees while tucking into modern Greek fare at the Hungry Donkey in Shoreditch. Imagine you’re on holiday, soaking up the sun on a Greek island as you crunch into a flaky filo pastry pie and a crisp Greek salad, smattered with some of the best feta cheese The Handbook has ever had!
Where: Hungry Donkey Greek Kitchen, Wentworth Street, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Aldgate East (0.2 miles)
Not only is the Lighterman located a stone’s throw from King’s Cross station, making it ideal for post-work drinks or a bite to eat before a cheeky weekend away, it’s canalside bar is situated directly on the towpath of the Regent’s Canal, making it the perfect pit-stop for a tipple or two this summer. We like to have a lazy lunch on the terrace, sharing our favourite summer snack – crispy squid with chilli and lime – and a portion of classic beer-battered fish and chips with house tartare and crushed peas. Rosé compulsory.
Al Fresco Afternoon Tea
Boasting a fully retractable roof, Dalloway Terrace is ideal all year round. Open from 7am, they serve an all day menu, including a quaint afternoon tea inspired by Lady Bedford and the local Bloomsbury tradition of tea, ideal for special occasions or a cheeky post-bikini body treat! For only £40 per person with a glass of champagne, it’s the ultimate sweet treat heightened by the scenic blue skies above.
Where: 16-22 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road (0.1 miles)
Michelin-Starred Summer Dining
The Handbook has spent many an afternoon and evening waiting ever so patiently for a table or a seat at the bar of Michelin-starred tapas restaurant Barrafina. Now, it’s Covent Garden outpost on theatreland’s Drury Lane boasts a splendid outdoor terrace, perfect for outdoor dining but also dining full-stop as it’s increased our chances of nabbing a table! Nothing beats the salt cod brandada and a crab bun with a traditional glass of sherry on the side.
Historic Cobbled Courtyard
Farringdon’s historic The Bleeding Heart boasts a quaint cobbled terrace which makes for a perfect sun trap to sample the new Bistro summer menu. A slightly darker side to the venue lies in its history – and the event that gave it its name – the murder of Lady Elisabeth Hatton in 1662 by a bitter and jealous admirer who ripped out her heart and left it on the cobblestones. Nowadays the French bistro is a favourite amongst City workers and Farringdon locals wanting a romantic date spot or sundowner.
Where: Hatton Garden, Bleeding Heart Yard, off Greville Street, London, EC1N 8SJ, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Farringdon (London) (0.1 miles)