The nonstop activity on London’s streets is thrilling, but sometimes you long to rise above the hustle and bustle. An easy elevator ride above the madness, and you and your date will be able to sit in serenity, marveling at the skyline and enjoying spectacular food and drink. Here are our three favorite London restaurants and bars with views that go on forever.
Vista at the Trafalgar
Grab someone you fancy and seek out Vista at the Trafalgar, the largest open-air rooftop bar in central London. Tucked away in a corner of Trafalgar Square, it’s easy to miss. But once you find it, you’ll want to keep it a secret. The black deck, with pops of pink at the tables and modernist silver trellises arched over the trendy crowd, is effortlessly chic. But who needs an over-the-top decorating scheme? Everyone’s attention is going to be on the view, anyway. You can nibble on Greek and Italian share platters — light bites, rather than proper meals–but the cocktail menu is really the focus here. Try the Mare Club cocktail, a refreshing little gin sipper with tart raspberries and aromatic basil, and check your watch against Big Ben or observe the steady turning of the London Eye. You may even catch the cast of Made in Chelsea having a cool conversation here.
How about a cocktail at the top of Western Europe’s tallest building? As the sun begins to set, grab your sweetheart and head to the eye-popping 31st floor of Renzo Piano’s shiny new Shard in Southwark. The floor-to-ceiling windows of Aqua Shard showcase the city like you’ve never seen. It’s likely that you and your date will temporarily forget food, drink, and everything else as you behold panoramic London lit up like a fairground. When you come to your senses, steady yourself with a tea-infused cocktail. An Aqua Shard tradition, drinks like the Lemon Meringue incorporate tea or tea syrup (in this case, a sweet-refreshing blend of vodka, rooibos syrup, Frangelico foam, with a dash of bitters and cinnamon to mix things up). Line your stomach with the excellent traditional British food, or just settle into the plum-and-peacock banquette and enjoy the luxury. The scene at night is amazing, but here’s a tip: Go to Aqua Shard for breakfast, order the eggs benedict and watch London go to work on the many miles of train tracks flowing into London Bridge station below. You’ll have the best views in London and a smaller crowd to share them with.
Duck & Waffle
The Duck & Waffle experience starts Willy Wonka-style, with a zippy ride in a glass elevator up to the 40th floor of the Heron Tower. It’s open 24-hours, so go for a sunrise breakfast, when the financial district is bathed in a soft, rosy light and the Gherkin glows blue across the way. Despite the dizzying heights, the vibe is casual: It’s all weathered wood, white marble, and ceramic tiles, modernised with huge glass windows and stainless steel. On your first trip there, order the signature dish: fluffy, light waffles with crispy duck leg confit and a fried duck egg. This masterpiece arrives before you with a healthy portion of maple syrup, a sprinkle of mustard seeds floating on top. If you finish up but aren’t quite ready to leave these gorgeous views, linger over a smokey autumn cocktail, made with Jack Daniels and amaro.