There’s little more magical than a courtyard, a private space hidden deep within a building only accessible to an exclusive few. Think Oxbridge Colleges, Roman villas, Royal Palaces; that kind of thing. Plus, thankfully, lots of our favourite hotels and restaurants. And in the summer months, there’s little better way to enjoy the summer sun than in a hidden courtyard away from the bustling crowds.
If lions sleep in dens then St Martins Lane hotel are letting Veuve Clicquot do the roaring. The Den has teamed up with the famous Champagne house and artisan ice creamery Ruby Violet to bring us a palm filled paradise of a courtyard hidden a stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. The jungly oasis is covered in foliage, butterflies and neon lights, perfect for enjoying a glass (or bottle) of Veuve, an afternoon tea or a tub of Ruby Violet ice cream.
Where: 45 St. Martins Lane, London, WC2N 4HX, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Leicester Square (0.2 miles)
From the front the imposing colonnades of 116 Pall Mall are as impressive as they are beautiful, but head through the Pall Mall behemoth and you’ll find a lush and green garden in the form of the Waterloo East Garden. One of London’s smartest addresses, the unexpected terrace, accessed from the grandeur of the Carlton Room, is ideal for entertaining or just relaxing post-work with a glass of rosé.
Where: 116 Pall Mall, Westminster, London, SW1Y 5ED, United Kingdom
Nearest station: London Charing Cross (0.3 miles)
The Courtyard Garden at Sanderson is a veritable oasis, with parrots (yes, parrots), butterflies and exotic flowers vying for Insta-feeds with the fountain, mosaics and reflecting pool. You can go mad for the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea, sample fresh new dishes from the restaurant or just sit back and listen to the Wednesday evening Saxophonics or Thursday night DJs sipping a glass of Veuve Cliquot Champagne and putting off the hours until you have to emerge back onto nearby Oxford Street.
Where: 50 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NG, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Goodge Street (0.4 miles)
I’ve not been to spy school, but arguably if you’re trying to keep something a secret then you don’t put out a press release to the word’s media. But thank goodness that the team over at Rosewood London have let the cat out of the bag and Nyetimber Secret Garden is very much in the public domain. The grand courtyard at the hotel has been taken over by English wine producer Nyetimber and they’ll be bringing vintage garden tools and plant pots into the courtyard to recreate a hidden ‘secret’ feel just off High Holborn. And, even better, the Nyetimber will be free-flowing.
While we’re often euphemistically told that the back entrance is so more attractive than the front, in the case of The Stafford this is undoubtedly true. Don’t get us wrong, the smart Victorian main entrance, confusingly requiring you traverse three sides of the building, is overshadowed by the stunning St James’s entrance that takes you through the former stables courtyard, resplendent with greenery and cobbles and ideal for outside drinking or eating.
Where: 16-18 St James's Place, Mayfair, London, SW1A 1NJ, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.2 miles)
Oysters are best enjoyed out of doors, and, in my opinion, preferably, at Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill. Courtyard dining (technically on-street dining, given the tables and chairs are set up on Swallow Street – incidentally the perfect pun, given you’ll be shucking and downing a bunch of bi-valves) perfects the experience, which invariably involves some of London’s best seafood.
Where: 11-15 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4DG, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus (0.3 miles)
Soho’s glorious Ham Yard Hotel sits in a courtyard itself. But enter the hotel and, of course, it’s got its own hidden courtyard. The restaurant and bar opens out into the green haven away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Piccadilly Circus where alfresco dining is irresistible.