The weather is oddly mild considering it’s so nearly Christmas, but that shouldn’t stop us from donning a scarf and getting festive. Winter is about cosiness after all and Alpine-style terraces are always hot property in London.
Across the city, outside spaces have been transformed into snowy, wintry enclaves, replete with “Arctic espressos” and sheepskin rugs. Here are some of the best for the colder — even if they’re not all that cold — months.
Acme Fire Cult
Acme Fire Cult has become one of East London’s most sought-after locations, a modern BBQ restaurant in a fairy light-adorned courtyard. There are blankets and freshly cut logs. Founders Andrew Clarke and Daniel Watkins focus on seasonal vegetables, dayboat fish and native breed meat from regenerative farms, using grill techniques, fermentation and spices to good effect. It is an enchanting space for cocktails, craft beers and fine cooking under cover of blankets.
Abbot Street, E8 3DP, acmefirecult.com
Snowbird at Seabird
On the 14th floor of the Hoxton hotel in Southwark is a spectacular foliage-addled space with the views to match. This winter, the seafood restaurant has been transformed into a 1970s-inspired venue, with Slim Aarons photography prints on the wall and Grey Goose-based cocktails. Dishes include baked oysters with chorizo and lemon, an omelette Arnold Bennett, and lobster and crab pie topped with caviar.
14th Floor, South Bank, 40 Blackfriars Road, SE1 8NY, thehoxton.com
This year, Dalloway Terrace, named after one of Virginia Woolf’s most famous characters, has partnered with Perrier-Jouët Champagne, blending canny English romanticism with French elegance. The Bloomsbury terrace is covered in flowers and serves classic afternoon teas, cocktails and al fresco lunches to anyone looking for a grandiose sort of affair. One for Instagram, most certainly.
16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN, dallowayterrace.com
Skylight Tobacco Dock
Skylight Tobacco Dock boasts panoramic views over London’s skyline, an ice rink — Europe’s largest on a rooftop, apparently — and igloos and Alpine huts within which revellers might settle in for an evening of fondue and warming cocktails. Late on come quiz nights or DJ events, and so here we have a place to party. There’s table tennis inside, too.
Skylight at Tobacco Dock, E1W 2S, skylightbars.com
Peckham is full of excellent places to eat and drink. One spot is Peckham Arches, a 600-cover space with an open-fire kitchen, two cocktail bars, an art gallery and a weekly roster of live music. The wood fired pizzas and Italian-style snacks will warm anyone on a winter evening, while cocktails are best enjoyed outside on the covered rooftop, which also has a pool table or two for those in the mood.
213 Blenheim Grove, SE15 4QL, peckhamarches.com
Market Halls Victoria
Even if the weather does drop, Market Halls is ready, with a host of blankets on its heated rooftop. As for the location, Victoria is an easy win for commuters, just two minutes from the station. Downstairs are a host of food fixtures, each serving seasonal specials, and there are bars to satiate anyone hoping to grab a drink or two on the outside terrace before heading home for Christmas. Somewhere to consider too when the inevitable delays upend plans.
191 Victoria Street, SW1E 5NE, markethalls.co.uk
The Hawk’s Nest
Hawk’s Nest sits snug inside a converted railway arch and wood-fired pizza can be acquired thanks to a selection of Gozney ovens. The 300-cover terrace always draws a crowd in Shepherd’s Bush, fun cocktails, decent beers and, on Sundays throughout December, a Christmas market selling locally made gifts. Those attending one of the Hawk’s Nest wreath-making workshops but fearing rain or a chill need not worry: its winter roof will keep both at bay.
Goldhawk Road, Shepherd's Bush Market, W12 8DF, the-hawks-nest.co.uk
Well established as one of London’s coolest hotels, The Standard has converted its terrace into a homely outside bar with sheepskin furs, fairy lights, and a blazing chimney fire. The menu features the hotel’s well-made cocktails alongside US-style dishes: mini hotdogs, burgers, and chicken sliders are available alongside Christmas time snacks. A place perfect for date nights and parties alike.
Ground Floor, The Standard, 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG, standardhotels.com
The Boundary might be best-known for its glorious roasts, but its covered orangerie is well placed for winter dining. There, amid leaves and a host of fairy lights, are charcuterie boards and keenly melted raclette, a haven for cosy evenings on snug rattan chairs. It is also worth noting here that The Boundary might well do one of London’s best bloody marys.
2-4 Boundary Street, E2 7DD, boundary.london
Here we have an English country garden, tucked away and already snug, made festive thanks to red blooms, sheepskins and cinnamon-clad mulled wines. Stanley's is a covered, heated place all that is worthy of Chelsea is abundant. There are Christmas specials abound and quiet, Richard Curtis-style evenings to be had.
151 Sydney Street, SW3 5UE, stanleyschelsea.co.uk