From the classic elegance of Big Ben to the gleaming, ultra-modern Shard, London’s skyline is pretty extraordinary.
And where better to admire sweeping views of London skies that dining, high above the city?
The British capital takes the concept of “haute cuisine” to searing heights.
From the global pop-up dining experience Dinner in the Sky, that straps groups of diners around a table and hoists them 100 feet up in the air by crane, to watching the sun rise over Duck and Waffle, these are the best – and most thrilling – “uppity” eateries in London when you travel to the British metropolis:
Helix and Iris, Searcys at the Gherkin
Helix Restaurant and Iris Bar, on levels 39 and 40 of the Norman Foster-designed Gherkin building – a much-loved star of the London skyline – opened to the public for the first time in July 2018, having previously only been available for exclusive hire and private events.
Helix’s executive chef Daniel Loftin is behind a menu featuring seasonal British produce such as Dorset crab, Rhug Estate Welsh lamb and English green asparagus.
Iris Bar, which offers spectacular 360-degree views over the City, has a London-inspired cocktail list, including the Jack the Ripper – with Mediterranean herbs vodka, beet juice, tomato, lemon and Worcester sauce – a dark local twist on the Bloody Mary.
It’s a swanky affair with prices to boot, but worthwhile for a special occasion.
Where to find it: Searcys at the Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe, London, EC3A 8EP
Frank’s Cafe, Bold Tendencies
A car park might not sound like the most glamorous of hang-outs, but just wait til you see the view from the top. The advantage of being a bit further from the center means this panoramic view takes in every London landmark from the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral and the 02 Arena in the East.
The vibe’s more casual than some of the spots on this list – a glass of house wine sells for £4.80 or upgrade to a cocktail for £8.50 – and you’ll be surrounded by crowds of millennial Londoners enjoying the sunset.
The food is simple and low-key – think barbeque pork neck and slaw or a half chicken to soak up the alcohol. There are plenty of vegan options too.
You can also head to Frank’s during the weekend for a delicious, low-key and tasty al fresco brunch with a view.
Oh, and even getting to the top is part of the experience. You’ll probably recognize the building’s hot pink staircase from many a London-based Instagram – it’s not a trip to Frank’s without snapping a pic of your own.
Where to find it: Bold Tendencies, 7th-10th Floor Multi Storey Car Park, 95A Rye Ln, London SE15 4ST
Oblix at the Shard
The Shard is home to several fancy eateries, but Oblix is the original and the most elevated, situated on the 32nd floor of the glass skyscraper. It’s actually split across two different spaces, both offering some pretty incredible views across London.
Oblix West is the restaurant – with a New York-inspired rotisserie theme featuring British and European produce – a departure for founder Rainer Becker, whose other restaurants, Zuma, Roka and Inko Nito, are Japanese-themed.
If you go during the day, you can enjoy a traditional Afternoon Tea, while Sunday afternoon is time for a British sunday roast.
Oblix East offers panoramas of the city’s Canary Wharf and skyscrapers, alongside some creative cocktail inventions.
Oblix diners are treated to panoramic views of the cityscape – staggering at sunset, but eminently Instagrammable all day long.
This is another upmarket affair, but visiting the Shard is on most people’s London bucket list, and you may as well pay £14 ($17) for a cocktail in the bar with a view, rather than forking out the £25 ($30) for the official “View from the Shard.”
Where to find it: Oblix, 32/F, The Shard, 31 St. Thomas St., London SE1 9RY
Duck and Waffle
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not treat yourself to waffles amongst the clouds? Duck and Waffle is located on the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate (Heron Tower) and even in London fog its impressive.
The Heron Tower also hosts the London outpost of Japanese-Peruvian-Brazilian restaurant Sushisamba, but we recommend Duck and Waffle for the eponymous signature dish.
The restaurant is open 24/7, and you can get delicious breakfast bites all day. The duck and waffle will cost you £18 ($22), but two eggs any style comes in at £8 ($10) – comparable to many less glamorous brunch spots in the capital.
The crowd encompasses everyone from city slickers having important meetings, fellow tourists snapping pics and foodies ready to indulge in waffley delights.
Where to find it: 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY
Galvin at Windows
Holding fort in upper-crust Mayfair is Galvin at Windows, the Michelin-starred French restaurant on the 28th floor of the Hilton Park Lane Hotel. Known for its sterling service, the restaurant also supports the charity Galvin’s Chance, which helps disadvantaged young people get into hospitality.
More classical in style than some of the city’s newer high-rise eateries, visitors are still treated to stunning aerial views of London’s Hyde Park.
Plus, in early September 2019, the restaurant rebranded and overhauled their bar, which is now called 10° at Galvin at Windows. The bar takes its name from “golden hour,” the period just before sunset or just after sunrise, where the sky is illuminated in pink and gold, so the interior follows suit – think gold accents and warm furnishings.