A winter terrace seems like a contradiction in terms, but London’s bars have outdone themselves this year creating cosy winter gardens and terraces serving up mulled wine, fondue and après-ski vibes…
Lead image: The Coppa Club igloos (photo: Allan Stone)
1 Magic Roundabout, Shoreditch
East London’s worst kept secret is the Magic Roundabout. Back again for another winter of day-glow novelty, this year’s theme is ‘Decades’, paying homage to the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s – so expect some serious nostalgia tunes. Hangout in themed areas including the Woodstock flower-power area, the 70s Playboy lounge with complete with sheepskins and log fire, the 80s disco in the main bar and a 90s-inspired VIP Area that the Fresh Prince himself would approve of. Food wise, it’s the likes of slow smoked beef brisket with hoisin sauce from Smokin’ Lotus, loaded potato skins from Skins and pure beefy brilliance from Burger Bear.
Old Street Roundabout, Shoreditch EC1Y 1BE; magicroundabout.co
2 Coppa Club Igloos, Tower Bridge
Last year’s alfresco sensation, Coppa Club’s igloos are back! Located Thames-side at the restaurant’s Tower Bridge branch. The insta-famous igloos are even better this year, re-designed with frames and Perspex sliding doors, and all fully furnished with heating, blankets and speakers. Drink, dine and chill in full view of Tower Bridge all winter, whether it’s breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or cocktails. Available to book for a maximum of 8 people (bookings under 6 people will be sharing with other guests) for up to two hours. Bookings sold out pretty much instantly, but for those who love a more impromptu approach to life, a limited number are held back for walk-ins. They can also be booked for Christmas lunches from Tuesday 21 November. And, as they duly note, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – igloos are popping up all over London this year!
3 Three Quays Walk, Lower Thames Street EC3R 6AH; coppaclub.co.uk
3 Queen of Hoxton’s Moroccan Medina
Queen of Hoxton has teamed up with festival production maestros Fables (Houghton, El Dorado, SGP) to transform its rooftop bar into a Moroccan Medina this winter. Complete with Moorish-inspired archways, a Moroccan feasting hall under canvas, giant lantern snug, fire pits and shisha pipes. Step inside the winter wigwam and pop yourself on a leather pouffe to feast on Middle Eastern delights like halloumi fries, lamb and apricot tagine or vegan mezze board, washed down with a shimmering gold pomegranate bellini, or brave the chill outside on London’s rooftop equivalent of Marrakesh’s beautiful Yves Saint Laurent Garden with cobalt blue walls, cacti and fairy lights, while sipping on a spiced hot buttered rum. You can even get yourself a Henna tattoo.
1 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3JX; queenofhoxton.com
4 Babylon’s Winter Terrace at The Roof Gardens
The Roof Gardens, with its famous pink flamingos and 1.5 acres of themed Spanish, English Woodland and Tudor gardens, is one of summer’s hottest hangouts, but don’t discount it during the winter months. Babylon Restaurant transforms during the winter months with a fully heated terrace, blankets and warming cocktails, so that you can admire the city skyline safe from the winter chill. From Tuesday 21 November until Christmas, you can also get stuck into the baked cheese menu.
99 Kensington High Street W8 5SA; roofgardens.virgin.com
5 Skylight at Tobacco Dock
Head for Tobacco Dock to experience a thoroughly urban après skate bar and London’s only rooftop ice rink. As well as skating, mulled drinks and street food, this place also boasts fondue, ice hockey shooting and cracking views of London’s shimmering skyscrapers. Skylight launched this summer, breathing life into a previously unused carpark (see also Peckham Levels and Roof East, below). The neon-lit winter playground features bars on each of the three levels: a pergola bar on the main level, next to the ice rink; a cosy lower-level bar with fur-lined seating and cheese and chocolate fondue; plus a heated marquee on the upper deck. Entry is free, skating is £10, ice hockey penalty shooting is £3 for 10 shots. Open Thurs-Fri, 5pm-11pm and Sat-Sun, 12pm–11pm.
Pennington Street, Wapping E1W 2SF; skylightlondon.com
6 Social Fun & Games Club at Roof East
East London seems to have it all going on on rooftops this year! Social Fun & Games Club at Roof East is keeping Londoners young at heart with Sliders curling, igloo dining dens and a toasty ski-lodge bar. Curling seems to be popping up all over the capital this year but Roof East has London’s only rooftop curling experience with Sliders (tickets start at £10pp). You can also cosy up in your own snug, sparkling private rooftop igloo, available to hire for £40 plus a minimum spend of £40 on food and drink. Choose from wild boar courtesy of Jimmy’s Lodge or a hog roast from Crazy Pig. There’s also a retro-inspired ski-lodge bar serving up hot toddies and ski shots. Roof East an the ski-lodge bar are free to enter. Closes 23 December.
Roof East, Level 8, Great Eastern Way car park, Stratford E15 1XE; sfgclub.com
7 South Pole Saloon at Brixton Rooftop
South Pole Saloon to provide refuge for Rebel Elves, who escaped a life of enslavement by Bad Santa to live a life on their own terms. So head to Brixton Rooftop to join the The Snowman, The Sugar Plum Fairy and the Candy Cane Girls for winter evenings of debauchery in a heated, covered winter wonderland. Here you’ll find woodland lodges, multiple bars, Candy Caner Cabins, live music, interactive entertainment, creative cocktails and festive street food by the likes of Vudu Food, Mac to the Future, Fancy Funkin Chicken and The Lambassadors. Opens 23 November and closes 1 January 2018.
Pope’s Road, Brixton SW9 8JH; brixtonrooftop.com
8 The Gardening Society at John Lewis
The Gardening Society at John Lewis is now open for the winter season and welcomes its final restaurant residency of the year: The Ethicurean from Bristol. Background Bars will be offering a range of seasonal serves crafted to complement The Ethicurean’s hearty food menu, which will be available until 24 December. From 6 November, The Gardening Society will be transported into a yuletide village green with a 12ft Christmas tree adorned with twinkly lights and vintage baubles and the resident rooftop pub, The Gardener’s Arms, will become a festive hub where Londoners can sing along to their favourite festive songs with a warming tipple.
300 Oxford Street W1C 1DX; johnlewis.com
9 The Churchill Bar’s Vintage London Winter Terrace
The award-winning Churchill Bar’s seasonally themed alfresco terrace travels back in time this year. The Vintage London Winter Terrace is adorned with iconic British posters and classic London memorabilia, as well as blankets and hot water bottles to keep the chill at bay. The Churchill Bar team has also crafted nine winter cocktails that Sir Winston Churchill would have approved of, including the Darkest Hour, which celebrates his golden years as Prime Minister, and the Charleston Punch, which remembers Churchill as a ‘bon vivant’. Accompany them with winter dishes like White Truffle Croque Monsieur and Homemade Braised Lamb & Potato Croquettes, as well as the bar’s famous Green & Black’s Chocolate and Cheese fondues.
Hyatt Regency, 30 Portman Square, Marylebone W1H 7BH; londonchurchill.regency.hyatt.com
10 Pergola Paddington Central
Pergola Paddington Central is back for winter, fully covered, winter-proofed and serving up the finest fare from some of the capital’s best independent eateries. The two floors are carefully curated and beautifully decorated for the chillier months with dark woods, winter greenery, heating and snug blankets – even the top deck has a new roof. There’s seating for up to 850 diners, seven giant day beds, five self-service restaurants, two bars and one giant clear roof that’s perfect for stargazers. Enjoy comfort foods from Made of Dough, ramen masters Tonkotsu, Patty & Bun and DF Mexico. Open until 23 December.
5 Kingdom Street, Paddington Central W2 6PY; pergolaontheroof.co.uk
11 Woody Bear, Oxford Street
Woody bear is a new winter rooftop retreat hidden behind a secret entrance on Oxford Street. Taking over the space that formerly hosted summer hits Notch and Sisu, this festive hideaway is inspired by an abandoned urban fairground. But it doesn’t just look cool, it also serves up boozy eggnog and raclette wheels. Hang out in booths created from old tea-cup fairground rides, with warm blankets hot gin punch. There’s even a Cheese Melt-Shack by Madame & Monsieur, serving up grilled cheese sandwiches, baked cheese, charcuteire and Bermondsey Raclette from Kappacasein.
535 Oxford Street W1C 2QW; woodybear.london
12 The Winter Forest at Broadgate
Snow-covered pine trees, three giant tipis, a pop-up festive cinema and a Christmas market are set transform Broadgate’s Exchange Square into a Nordic-inspired wonderland with a snow-covered, pine-scented forest with reactive twinkling lights. There will be a Tipi Cinema showing Elf, It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle On 34th Street (tickets £15), a Winter Market with stalls run by independent artisans including The Amazing Chocolate Workshop, The Somerset Ploughmen and Wonderland Collective, plus the chance to enjoy mulled wine and prosecco under the stars at the Bar & Grill or book private-dining booths in The Hideaway. Nearby in Finsbury Avenue Square, check out David Ogle’s neon light tree installation, Lumen. Open from 9 November until 12 January 2018.
Next to Liverpool Street Station; broadgate.co.uk/winter
13 Aviary, the City
Aviary launches its high-altitude winter terrace on 16 November with more of London’s current favourite pop-up hangouts – igloos! Set on the 10th floor overlooking the City skyline, each igloo is adorned with faux fur blankets, snug rugs and hot water bottles to keep you toasty. Enjoy hot tipples like the Mulled Negroni (Balsazar red vermouth with zingy orange bitters) served in a sharing tea pot, and velvety hot chocolates with lashings of rum and fluffy marshmallows to garnish. Sharing platters feature seasonal turkey, tarragon and wild mushroom ‘vol-au-vents’; breaded brie with sweet cranberry chutney; and mini spiced custard tarts or rich baked vanilla cheesecake bites. Open until February 2018.
Montcalm Royal London House Hotel, 22-25 Finsbury Square EC2A 1DX; aviarylondon.com/christmas
14 Radio Rooftop Bar at ME London
Experience an alpine atmosphere in the heart of London from the heights of one of Radio Rooftop Bar’s private cable cars. Radio has panoramic views of iconic landmarks like Somerset House, The Shard and St Paul’s Cathedral. Guests booking #AprèsWithAView will be handed their lift pass on arrival at ME London, before being led to one of three luxuriously furnished cable cars to enjoy winter cocktails such as spiced rum eggnog served in chocolate cups, champagne and truffle cheese fondue. DJs, candles, faux fur throws and table service mean you’ll be fully immersed in the cosy winter experience. Available to book for groups of up to 10 for a total price of £650. Open from 1 December until 30 March 2018.
336-337 Strand WC2R 1HA; melondonhotel.com/alpine
15 The Sipping Room, West India Quay
The Sipping Room has got igloos too! You can even go VIP in one of the Copper Dog whisky igloos, complete with a bespoke cocktail and party bite menu. With room for up to eight, all the igloos have toasty touches including electric heaters, sheepskin throws and Drake & Morgan’s signature hot water bottles and Aran jumpers. Festive cocktails include the Mistletoe Spritz (Courvoisier VSOP, prosecco, home-made grenadine, brown sugar, cranberry bitters and orange zest) and Down the Chimney (Tanqueray gin, Graham’s port, cinnamon syrup, lemon, mint and blackberry). From December, you can also enjoy festive canapes and sharing plates including pigs in blankets, Stilton & walnut tarts and aubergine sliders with winter slaw & wasabi mayonnaise.
16 Hertsmere Road, West India Quay E14 4AX; drakeandmorgan.co.uk