We’ll admit it: London doesn’t really have any secret spaces. There are nine million people here, people. That’s a lot. You think there’s gonna be a patio that only you and your mates know about? One that serves Aperol spritzes on tap, and a range of delicious canapés? One that has a complimentary bucket of Calippos? That, friend, is just your front garden with private catering. Instead, what we have is a lot of little spaces that not absolutely everybody knows about. Which is about as good as you can ask for in this city. These are the best secret patios in London. No password or membership required. Just make sure you don’t tell anyone else about them.
If the Primrose Hill set makes you think of unruly 90s British celebrities lavishly consuming all in their path, then let us give a much more pleasant and reasonably priced alternative. Odette’s, which is a privately tutored hop and skip away from Primrose Hill, has a three course set lunch and early evening meal available for around twenty quid. Ordering this and bagging a spot in their secret garden is an extremely tasteful move this summer, especially if you’re looking to eat somewhere quiet, refined and, most importantly, outside.
Technically, J&A has more of a courtyard than a patio, but to find this all day spot in Clerkenwell you have to pop down an alleyway, so we’re definitely classing it as top secret. On one side of their courtyard you’ll find a cafe serving hearty Irish food and baked goods - on the other, you’ll find a more formal bar space where you can eat and drink until 11pm. If you’ve got a soft spot for bunting, potted plants, and eating seasonal quiche in the sunshine, this place should definitely be on your radar.
As cutesy little neighbourhood spots go, Minnow is definitely up there. This all day place overlooks Clapham Common and has a small patio out back, complete with fairy lights, fresh flowers, and the kind of pastel colour scheme that makes eating brunch here feel like you live in Edward Scissorhands’ neighbourhood. It’s also worth knowing that there’s a cool, old school bar downstairs - so whether you’re here on a date or a catch up over some courgette gnocchi, there’s somewhere to hide if the rain starts.
Unfortunately Theo’s is becoming one of the best places for pizza in London. We say unfortunately because not only is there a high risk of them running out of dough when you need your late night munchies, but also because their perfect summer patio is becoming a busy south London hotspot. The reason why? You can’t beat the combo of excellent pizza a beer in the sun. You just can’t. The outdoor area closes early so head down as early as humanly possible to secure a spot.
Authentique is a wine shop, bar, and restaurant in Tufnell Park, and it was already one of our favourite spots in north London for a casual glass of wine and some ham and cheese, and that was before we discovered they had a little patio at the back. They’re open all day Tuesday through Sunday, but if you want to use the patio you’ll have to do it before 8pm, because neighbours.
Lost Boys is a vampire themed pizza joint and basement absinthe bar in Camden. Okay, we hear you, anyone who’s seen Interview With The Vampire knows that sun rays and blood suckers do not mix. But bear with us because this place has a garden patio situation out back that is completely hidden from the street, has heaters, and is chilled enough to feel like you’re at your mate’s place. So sure, there’s probably one too many bloodsucker puns on the menu, but who cares when the pizza is great, there’s a banging playlist of 80s classics, and the cocktails are cheap.
This place used to be called L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele and people would come to Stoke Newington Church Street from all over London to try one of two pizzas on the menu - margherita or marinara - made just like they are in Naples. Though the famous name might have gone, this simple little spot has maintained standards, and the pizzas are still as good as - if not better than - anything else you’ll find in London. And on those days when the weather is as good as it probably is in Naples, they have a small garden where you can book if you’re a group of six or more, to enjoy your pizza in the fresh air and sunshine.
Secret patios aren’t just for Christmas. Wait, no, let’s try that again - secret patios aren’t just for weekends. If you’re freelance or happen to work around Clerkenwell, then The Clerkenwell Kitchen’s hidden outdoor terrace should definitely be on your radar. This place serves excellent lunchtime options from a changing daily menu, as well as your classics like salads and multiple eggy options. Of course, you can come here on the weekend, but really this spot is perfect for catching some rays whilst eating a roasted beetroot and mint salad during your lunch hour.
Italian small plates, botanical cocktails, and fresh seasonal produce - that’s what La Goccia is all about. Even the interiors of this restaurant feel very garden of Eden, and their large courtyard has several tables for twos and fours with plants, trees, and flowers all over the place. On a sunny day with a bowl of ricotta gnudi and some courgette fritti in front of you it’s very easy to forget you’re in the middle of Covent Garden. And, realistically, as soon as you’re nursing a couple of cocktails, you won’t even feel like you’re in England.
Fare is an all-day bar and restaurant in between Old Street and Clerkenwell that’s a casual and classy option for day or night. The interior patio is perfect for a stone-baked pizza and an aperol spritz mid-summer, and such is the easy-going feel of this place that hours later, you may well find yourself leaning against the enormous marble bar, cocktail in hand.
As secluded terraces go, the one at Luca is pretty next-level. There’s well-worn exposed brick, there’s some very perfectly maintained foliage, and yes, you better believe it, there’s a working fireplace too. Basically, when celebrities get ‘secretly wed’ in their back gardens, this is what we picture. A meal here can be expensive, but sharing the pork sausage ragu pasta, a portion of the parmesan fries, and a bottle of wine? You’re golden.
Newcomer Wines is a very low-key wine shop and bar in Dalston, and we’re likely to be spending lots more time here when the weather’s right because they have a suitably low-key patio out back. It’s perfect for two, or a few of you. Plus glasses start at a very reasonable £6.50.
When you’re in Clerkenwell and looking for somewhere classy and refined to enjoy London’s 12 hour summer, The Coach is one of the best little patios you can be in. It’s a classy pub, and a decent restaurant, meaning you can continue going drinking in the sun before filling up on some French bistro style food.
It’s date night and you’re both looking for something ‘kind of healthy’, but also a tad romantic. Try Casita Andina, which has the added bonus of having a brightly-colored, kind of secret terrace. Sip some Peruvian inspired cocktails and food, ideally during the golden hour, when you both look good.
Lurra is already one of our favourite restaurants to eat tasty little plates of tapas and sip posh Spanish wine. Adding a patio with outdoor seating into the mix was enough to tip us over the edge, especially in a neighbourhood as good-looking as Marylebone. The piece de resistance here is the aged Galician Blond steak, arguably the best in town, but if you don’t feel like eating all that red meat in direct sunlight, the seafood options are great as well.
When every square inch of outdoor space in London is taken, the patio downstairs at Nobu in Shoreditch is where you want to consider heading. It’s a haven of peace and tranquility just seconds away from Great Eastern Street. You might even forget that you’re in what amounts to a fairly basic hotel bar.