The London sky line changes and grows every year and new opportunities to eat, drink and look out over the sites of London are plentiful. Here are a few ideas for great views of London, from East to West –
1) Boundary restaurant, rooms and rooftop, Shoreditch, East London – here’s a newish addition to London’s rooftop dining scene, opened in January 2009. It’s a tough place to secure a table as it only opens on pleasant summer afternoons, announced via twitter (@boundaryrooftop). See The Boundary for a rooftop panorama.
2) Smiths of Smithfields, London EC1 – not only does the top floor restaurant serve some of the best organic steaks in London (try the Chateaubriand for two) but the view from the terrace over the rooftops of London towards St Paul’s is superb.
3) Vertigo at Tower 42 in the city – this champagne bar is definitely worth a visit. Positioned on the 42nd floor, the tallest building in the City of London, the floor to ceiling windows provide stunning views. Michelin-starred restaurant, Rhodes 24, offers traditional British cuisine and is great for business lunch or dinner with friends.
4) 40|30 at 30 St Mary Axe – this Norman Foster designed building, better known as The Gherkin is one of London’s most talked about landmarks. The restaurant provides a 360 panoramic view of London, an iconic, glass walled experience.
5) Coq DÁrgent, No 1 Poultry, City of London – with fantastic views over the Square Mile, close to the Bank of England, this famous eatery offers the finest French Cuisine and one of the finest roof gardens in London.
6) The Oxo Tower – one of my favourite views of London has to be from the 8th floor balcony of the Oxo Tower Restaurant Bar and Brasserie on the South Bank, looking both ways along the river you can see fantastic views of London. Book for lunch and sit back and enjoy.
7) The Tate Modern, South Bank – a brisk walk from the Oxo Tower, the Tate Modern offers 3 places to eat, the best being the 7th floor restaurant and bar. Book in advance as it gets popular in the evening. On the 4th floor, the outdoor terraces on the north and south side of the building offer great views of London looking in both directions.
8) Skylon bar – located within the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank, Skylon’s floor to ceiling windows open up a spectacular panorama looking north over the River Thames. The bar/restaurant offers everything from daytime coffee, lunch, and cocktails and dinner in the evenings. A great start to an evening out in Covent Garden and the West End with a simple walk over Hungerford bridge to Charing Cross and Trafalgar Square.
9) Rooftop Garden at Trafalgar Hilton – this relatively unknown spot is a great place to sit back and look over Trafalgar Square and watch the tourists. There are also wonderful views of Covent Garden, Westminster and the London Eye.
10) Paramount Bar, Centre Point – centrally located, as the name suggests, at the junction of Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Street and Charing Cross Rd, this building has remained vacant for years. The top floors have recently opened as a private members bar/restaurant/club and offer amazing views in all directions. The top floor bar is a viewing gallery round all four sides of the building. On a clear night these views are hard to beat. Downside, it’s members only!
11) Galvin at Windows – this restaurant is on the 28th floor of the London Hilton on Park Lane. Serving modern French cuisine it offers fantastic views of Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace and pretty much the whole of West London. See the Hilton Park Lane
12) Kensington Roof Gardens – London’s equivalent of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, 1000ft above street level, a restaurant by day and a fantastic outdoor club in the evening. A real West London surprise and that’s before you meet the resident flamingos!
One final view of London that has been closed to the public since 1980 is that from the 34th floor of the Post Office tower. News is out that the restaurant is being redesigned and due to re-open towards the end of 2011.