There’s nothing more magical than a courtyard; a private space hidden deep within a building only accessible to an exclusive few. Think Oxbridge colleges, Roman villas, Buckingham Palace, Wormwood Scrubs, that kind of thing. Plus, thankfully, lots of our favourite hotels and restaurants.
As Britain reopens, al fresco dining will be the first area of hospitality to operate again from April 12th, which means that London’s courtyards will be flung open. So looking forward, here are some of the courtyards we can enjoy, being safely outside than in a hidden courtyard away from the bustling crowds.
Hidden in a warren of fashionable former Wandsworth warehouses, London Stock is exactly what you’d hope for from a courtyard restaurant. Excellent food, a local restaurant (no need to head into town), and a sheltered courtyard discovery.
The British-fine-dining-meets-Asian cuisine under Head Chef Nico Fitzgerald has only recently opened but is already tipped for big things. The tasting menu is a must!
Where: 2 Bubbling Well Square, Ram Quarter, Wandsworth, SW18 1UQ
St James’ Courtyard, Taj 51 Buckingham Gate
Taj 51 Buckingham Gate is folded around a central courtyard that’s as surprising as it is welcome. The quirky and colourful Victorian architecture wills you to stay, and the St. James’ Courtyard restaurant is the perfect excuse.
Outdoors, sip a glass of wine by the gurgling fountain or take in the ‘longest Shakespearean sylvan frieze in the world‘!
Where: 51 Buckingham Gate, St Jame’s, SW1E 6AF
The Rosewood is one of London’s most glorious hotels, and not much beats an evening curled up with a bottle of red and a decent book in Scarfe’s Bar. But given it’s insidey-ness we’ll have to hold off enjoying the full pleasures of the hotel and instead focus on outdoor pleasures.
Which, thanks to its brilliant courtyard, the Rosewood has in abundance. Subject of many tie-ins with English fizz maker Nyetimber, the courtyard will be a great place to return this April.
Where: 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
The tradesman entrance at most hotels consists of a loading bay and a few wheelie bins. Not so at The Stafford, the St James’s hotel with a secret weapon. Enter the hotel from the front, and it’s an attractive but arguably undistinguished Victorian red brick affair. But head round the back and it’s very different.
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, St James’s, SW1A 1NJ
Shoryu Ramen Carnaby
Are you Shoryu haven’t been to this Kingly Court courtyard Japanese restaurant? Shoryu Carnaby is ideally suited to shoppers (and people watching shoppers – remember them?) in this haven of stylish commercialism.
Order a ramen and sit back to enjoy the that special central London style of outdoors that, let’s face it, we’ve not been getting nearly enough of lately.
Where: 5 Kingly Street, Soho, W1B 5PJ
Oysters are best enjoyed out-of-doors, and in my opinion, preferably, at Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill.
Courtyard dining (technically actually 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 – but we’ll overlook that) perfects the experience, which invariably involves some of London’s best seafood.
Shucks away on April 12th!
Where: 11-15 Swallow Street, Picadilly, W1B 4DG
When’s a yard not a yard? When it’s 0.93 metres? No, when it’s a courtyard. Soho’s Ham Yard plays host to the glorious Ham Yard Hotel.
Outdoor dining is recommended in sunny weather (hotel guests can enjoy the roof terrace too) when this green haven away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Piccadilly Circus comes into its own with irresistible alfresco dining.
There’s also a splendid rooftop situation going on too…
Where: One Ham Yard, Soho, W1D 7DT
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. Find out more here.
The Terrace at 116 Pall Mall will be open from 12 April for lunchtime bookings on Monday – Friday, 12pm – 2pm (last orders) with plans to extend into the evening during the summer.
Where: 116 Pall Mall, Westminster, SW1Y 5ED
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.
In normal times, 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.
We can’t wait for it to be open again.
Where: 50 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 3NG
SUSHISAMBA Covent Garden
It’s the ultimate courtyard, the neoclassical surroundings of Covent Garden are the nation’s most famous courtyard, etched into our collective psyche and without doubt best enjoyed from above at Sushi Samba Covent Garden.
The Nikkei cuisine specialists bring style, sophistication and a touch of class to the Inigo Jones designed home of the Royal Opera House…
Where: 35 The Market Building, Covent Garden, WC2E 8RF