Tuesday 30 November 2021

Nine secret rooftop bars and terraces in London that are ready for Christmas

 These pretty hideaways have been transformed into winter wonderlands for the holidays

Tilly Alexander

Posted 9h ago

(Image: INSTAGRAM/pergolalondon)

Headed to the capital for a wintery weekend this Christmas and keen to get your dose of views? Or maybe you’re a Londoner looking for a festive drinks spot? 

Whatever your reasoning for needing a Christmassy cocktail venue, 2Chill has got you more than covered. 

From Marylebone to Mayfair, we’ve scoured London for all of the best secret rooftop bars, terraces and gardens that have decked the halls ready for the holidays. And your arrival, of course. 

Think outdoor areas strewn with mistletoe, holly and fairy lights, and kept cosy with heaters and (faux) furs. 

Whether you’re after views of Tower Bridge atop sheepskin rugs, sky-high ‘party pods’ lit with fairy lights to drink through the night or even a wintery rooftop where you can watch ‘Home Alone’ with wine, this list has got it all. 

Here are nine restaurants and bars to head to for an EXTRA festive drink

Le Pont De La Tour, Southwark 

(Image: Thomas Alexander Photography) 

Riverside French restaurant Le Pont De La Tour is an upmarket former tea warehouse with views of Tower Bridge and a waterfront terrace right on the banks of the Thames. 

And luckily for Londoners, the glamourous venue is turning its outdoor area into a cosy Jardin D’Hiver , or winter garden, as of Monday, November 22.

Inspired by French winter gardens, this scenic terrace will feature dainty lights, plus blankets and furs. 

Guests at this wintery space, which doubles as a ‘Champagne and Caviar Terrace’, will be able to enjoy a bespoke menu of Laurent Perrier Champagnes alongside other indulgent treats. 

Find more information here

Pergola, Paddington 

(Image: INSTAGRAM/pergolalondon)

Paddington’s best known rooftop bar is back with a new winter look just in time for the holidays. 

Featuring twinkling lights, snow-dusted pine trees and tons of festive garlands, the ‘Deck the Halls’ décor is Christmassy to the max. 

As well as a number of eight-person ‘Christmas Chalets’ and an ‘Alpine Hall’, there’s also a charming ‘Winter Forest’ that you can wander through. 

Drinks includes hot Bourbon toddies, traditional mulled wine and spicy hot apple cider. 

As for food, expect a feast of bratwurst and currywurst sausages alongside après ski-inspired snacks like camembert croquettes, raclette, boozy cheese fondue and even candy cane s’mores.

It’s open 5pm to 11pm Monday through Thursday, plus 12pm to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Sunday hours are 12pm to 10.30pm. 

More information here

Westwood Bar, Shepherd’s Bush 


Those in the market for quirky Christmas-themed cocktails and sweet or savoury fondues can head to Westwood Bar.  

The ETM Group venue in Westfield London has been turned into a magical winter wonderland with festive outdoor igloos and exclusive cocktails from award-winning premium gin, Slingsby Gin.

Reminiscent of alpine lodges, these see-through mini chalets offer 360-degree views of Westfield Square and come complete with a selection of board games and a Bluetooth speaker so guests can choose their music. 

The private igloos can be hired as part of a festive package which costs £55 per person and includes a glass of fizz and three-course meal, along with a festive Slingsby gin cocktail. 

There’s homemade garlic sourdough to start, followed by a choice of black cow cheese or Belgian milk chocolate fondue, plus mulled gin and mince pies to finish. 

As for drinks, Apple Pie Sours and Chocolate Orange Martinis are just some of the exciting festive beverages on offer. 

Chalets are available for groups of two to six, and can be reserved for a two-hour session. 

Find out more here

Café Biltmore and Terrace, Mayfair 

(Image: Niall Clutton) 

As of Wednesday, December 1, Londoners looking for a festive drink or treat can also head to the Café Biltmore and Terrace. 

The secret outdoor courtyard, which is practically a garden thanks to its foliage-covered walls, will be transformed into a magical wonderland with Christmassy decorations, mood lighting and more. 

Expect heaters and cushioned seating to keep you warm and cosy, too. 

READ MORE: The boujie three-course bottomless brunch in London with melt-in-your-mouth pancakes and SERIOUS ‘free flowing bubbles’

Guests at the Mayfair venue can also indulge in a number of limited time-only seasonal offerings while there, from a special Christmas menu designed by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton to a Ballerina Festive Afternoon Tea. 

Café Biltmore and Terrace is located at Grosvenor Square. 

It’s open from 7am to 11am, Monday to Sunday, as well as 12pm to 10pm on all days except Monday and Tuesday. 

More information here

London Bridge Rooftop, Southwark 

(Image: London Bridge Rooftop)

London Bridge Rooftop is a buzzy roof terrace in the middle of the City that’s perched on top of a 70s style six-storey office block. 

Don’t be deceived by the grey concrete exterior – it’s home to sheltered benches, DJs, burgers from local Borough Market supplier The Ginger Pig and all-round great vibes. 

As of Thursday, November 11, it’s also had a seasonal makeover. 

Expect Christmas trees, lights, mistletoe, hot boozy beverages like hot Irish coffee and mulled cider alongside the usual views of the Shard. 

From December, it will also be serving ‘the best hot dogs in town’. 

December bookings are now open with £5 reservation fees per person depending on the day and time of booking. 

London Bridge Rooftop is table service and only accepts card payments. 

It’s open from midday until 11pm from Sunday to Thursday, or midday until midnight, Friday to Saturday. 

To book or find out more here

Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury 

(Image: Rebecca Hope) 

Elegant venue Dalloway Terrace is a charming al fresco spot within The Bloomsbury Hotel, on Great Russell Street, right within the literary hub of Bloomsbury. 

Named after Virginia Woolf’s most famous fictional character, Mrs Dalloway, the hidden gem of a terrace is as well known for its stunning seasonal makeovers as it is for its literary links, so it should come as no surprise that a winter costume change is coming. 

According to the team, the picturesque terrace will be undergoing a ‘festive sprucing’ very soon. 

Keep an eye on the restaurant’s Instagram account, @dallowayterrace. 

Last year’s re-costuming involved tons of white sheepskin rugs, green and white flowers and twinkling lights, for reference. 

More information and to book here

Bar Elba, Waterloo

(Image: Bar Elba)

Popular Waterloo food and drinks hub Bar Elba is back with a bang this winter. 

As well as new Christmassy décor, there’s also a line-up of special events, a festive drinks packages featuring the likes of mulled wine and Prosecco, and yummy Christmas food staples – think mustard-glazed pigs in blankets or deep fried mac and cheese bites with chilli and cranberry relish.

A statement on the website reads: “Join Napoleon BornToParty and his fave reindeer Marengo for booze, food and epic views this Christmas season. 

“If you thought Bar Elba was a vibe in the Summer, we’re turning this rooftop into the best Winter terrace in London. 

“We’ll be well and truly decking the halls and pimping out the rooftop with all the jingle bells and whistles.” 

It’s much-loved ‘party pods’, which offer a 360 degree view of the city as well as privacy and rain protection, are also set to stay put through the holidays. 

These are full of fairy lights and heated, of course. 

More information or to book here

St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel, Westminster 

(Image: St James’ Court, A Taj Hotel)

Taj hotel St James’ Court is also inviting Londoners to indulge in a festive experience at its newly renovated courtyard. 

From Wednesday, December 8, the secret garden spot will be home to several winter chalets, as well as an illuminated Shakespearean frieze which wraps around the courtyard walls. 

Nestled alongside the hotel’s central fountain, the chalets will serve a number of winter-themed goodies, from indulgent hot chocolate to warming festive drinks such as mulled wine and cider. 

The space will also be decked out with outdoor furniture and heaters so guests can sit back and enjoy their treats. 

Just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, St James’ Park and landmark sites like Big Ben or Trafalgar Square, this hidden mini winter wonderland promises to be an ideal spot to spend a weekend afternoon or evening with the whole family. 

Get more information about St James’ Court here

Holmes Hotel and Kitchen at Holmes, Marylebone

(Image: Matthew Shaw)

Swanky central London venue the Holmes Hotel has pulled out all the stops in anticipation of the festive season. 

As of mid-November, the Baker Street staycation spot has turned its outdoor terrace into a Narnia-inspired winter wonderland complete with four cosy arbours decked out with blankets and faux furs. 

There’s also faux snow, fairy lights and Christmas trees galore. 

Best of all, though, the secret hideaway is also hosting special movie nights every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Christmas.

Visitors can expect to see classics such as ‘Home Alone’, ‘The Holiday’, ‘Elf’, ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘White Christmas’ screened atop the Marylebone roof terrace as part of a unique festive package, costing £65.00 per person. 

Guests who opt for the movie night deal get a complimentary glass of Perrier Jouët Grand Brut Champagne and exclusive seasonal winter tasting menu at Kitchen at Holmes, plus movie snacks – namely, popcorn flavoured with parmesan, lemon and spices. 

More information and to book here

Science Museum - Welcome to the world of Science Fiction | New genre-defying exhibition now on sale


Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination 

Take off in October 2022

Welcome to the world of Science Fiction. In this immersive genre-defying exhibition you will embark on a once in a lifetime adventure through the cosmos to explore visions of the future through the science of today.

Throughout this dynamic and interactive voyage, you will be placed at the heart of a dramatic science fiction story. Guided by artificial intelligence of alien origin, you will board and explore a unique spaceship, scout an alien planet, and investigate how scientists and science fiction creators have imagined and built new worlds to better understand our own.

As a thank you for being a subscriber you have priority booking until 09.00 on Thursday 2 December this includes access to 15% off Early Bird tickets. Know a science fiction fan? Don't miss out on our limited Science Fiction Christmas gift bundles

The National Gallery - Experience a winter wonderland with the whole family ❄️

 The National Gallery

Credit Suisse: Partner of the National Gallery
Father Christmas © The National Gallery, London

A Christmas adventure awaits

Join Father Christmas and his elves on a magical quest at the Gallery! Follow the trail through a winter wonderland and take part in merry activities for the kids including elven storytelling, a festive card competition and a special gift from the big man himself. 

But hurry – tickets for this festive family experience are selling fast!

Weekends until 12 December
Daily from 18-23 December

Christmas shop © The National Gallery Company, London

Fit in the Christmas shop

Get into the festive mood and shop quirky decorations with a touch of art, advent calendars, cards and more.

Ticket holders enjoy an exclusive 10% discount at the event (in-store only) and our cafés.

National Army Museum - Brothers in Arms exhibition, tanks, talks & more


National Army Museum Logo
Brothers in Arms promotional image with Sherman tank

Brothers in Arms

9 December 2021 - 6 May 2022


Follow the story of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry from D-Day to VE Day. This emotive exhibition, based on the book by James Holland, explores the reality of life in a tank - the danger, the camaraderie, the bravery – from the perspective of soldiers who served in this remarkable regiment.



Child and soldier with a tank

Spotlight: Tanks

11 December 2021


Join us for a day of talks, tours and family activities that will shine a spotlight on one of the most important advancements in military technology, the tank. Plus, get to see a Sherman in real life!

James Holland and Emily, our Family Learning Producer, with a Sherman tank

Let's Talk Tanks

Video for ages 7 to 14

Emily, our Family Learning Producer, caught up with historian James Holland to explore some of the key questions about Second World War tank crews: what were their roles, where did they sleep, and how did they go to the loo!


Virtual Battlefield Tours

The Relief of the Light Brigade, 25 October 1854

Virtual Battlefield Tour: Balaklava

15 December 2021, 7.30pm

£10.00 (£8.00 for members)

Witness the battlefield at Balaklava like never before in this virtual tour led by Crimean War expert Patrick Mercer. Discover the courage, the tactics and the mistakes behind notable events including the Thin Red Line and the Charge of the Light Brigade. Dr Alastair Massie will be on hand to illustrate the story with key objects from our collection.



Black and white photograph of Irish soldiers

Irish Soldiers of the First World War

3 December 2021, 12.00pm


Join Professor Richard Grayson online or in the Museum as he investigates the experiences of Irish soldiers during and after the First World War.

Soldiers of the East Yorkshire Regiment at Longford, Ireland, May 1921

Irish War of Independence

On 6 December 1921, the Irish War of Independence came to an end with the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. A hundred years on, we take a closer look at the origins, events and consequences of the conflict.


Sale Collection

Black and white photograph of 3rd County of London Crusader tank and crew, Libya, 1941

The Sale Collection: Operation Crusader

It's 80 years since Operation Crusader, an Allied effort to drive German and Italian armoured forces out of North Africa in the Second World War. In the latest instalment of this series, told through the photographs of Major 'Jimmy' Sale, catch up with the 3rd County of London Yeomanry as they face a baptism of fire in the Libyan desert.


Family Fun

Emily, our Family Learning Producer, with a Princess Mary gift tin

Operation Science: Supply Drop

Video for ages 7 to 14

Explore the science behind parachutes and see how well Brussel sprouts can fly in this festive-themed video.

Photo of toddler and mother

Tiny Troopers

15 December 2021

£5.00 per child

Tiny Troopers is back! Our monthly sensory sessions are full of song and play, perfect for children aged 2-4.



Our War book cover

Our War

10 December 2021, 12.00pm


In conversation with Julia Somerville OBE, Christopher Somerville reveals life-changing stories from people across the British Commonwealth who served in the Second World War.

Asia in Flanders Field book cover

Asia in Flanders Fields

16 December 2021, 6.30pm


Dominiek Dendooven launches his new book exploring Indian and Chinese experiences of the Western Front, and the effect of the First World War on the men and their home societies.


Monday 29 November 2021

London Bridge does ‘Christmas by the River’

 Shopping trips, the way we all used to do them, can unearth some hidden gems ... But only if you go out and look.

YULETIDE IS upon us and with it comes the adventures of Christmas gifting.

As retailers dive into a discount frenzy, along the banks of the Thames, with iconic views of Tower Bridge, the City skyline and The Tower of London, ‘Christmas by the River’ offered a surprising a mellow respite, with woodland guardians and cabins filled with curiosities along the river path.

It’s worth casting our minds back twelve months and remembering what it was like to be stuck indoors missing that festive cheer that we have grown so used to, it was dire.

Yes, things are different a year on, very different, but we must take advantage of the small things, like shopping with the family, breathing in the crips winter air while taking in the sites of London (do wrap up, of course) and finding the fun in the festive fervour.

My six-year-old daughter is so fascinated by all of the Christmas lights and decorations that adorn every other tree and building it’s a humbling reminder of what she has yet to store in her long-term bank of memories.

She missed out last year. Like most of the world, everything was done online.

A five-minute walk from London Bridge station however, Christmas by the River returns to London breathing magic into the area.

Stretching from London Bridge City Pier to The Scoop at More London, a free festive market with gifts for all the family is open until next year, and includes a pop-up winter bar The Riverside Lodge located by The Scoop to get shoppers in the spirit.

Plan your trip and check out the alpine themed lodges which are fully heated and can be pre-booked in advance to entertain groups of friends.

If you want to chill for more than a few hours you can kick back and watch Christmas themed films or dance the night away by the sky lit River Thames, to live DJs until 10pm every night throughout the week.

We can confirm the food options are varied and most importantly good.

A number of traders serve dishes, including Aroma – Steak and Chips serving Brazilian food, Chilli Cha Cha serving Punjabi fast food, Nicholas Pitta dishing up slow-cooked Greek souvlaki, Burger & Fries providing gourmet street food, accompanied by Mexican Burrito, Pad Thai and The Aegean Deli.

A few traditional spiced mulled wines were supped over the short time chilling between shops but if you prefer a hot toddie, it can be arranged, all while overlooking the picturesque background of London’s finest skyline.

All events are free to enjoy

Festive bus routes - Transport for London


London’s festive lights are at full beam 💡, and what better way to see the city at its most sparkly than on the bus! 🚌  

We’ve put together the best bus routes for viewing the most spectacular displays, and stopping off for a spot of festive shopping! Your sleigh awaits… ✨ 


Number 139 Bus

This journey starts off at Bond Street, where you can discover Christmas at Selfridges. Join the famous store for extraordinary festive experiences, from a feel-good Christmas market to magical moments with Santa himself! 🎅 

Hop on the number 139 bus towards Waterloo and head down Oxford Street then Regent Street to admire the spectacular Christmas lights displays. The oldest light display in London, first decorated in 1954,  the Regent Street light display is one of the largest in London. ✨ 

The fun doesn’t stop there, hop off outside Hamley’s and step into an enchanting world filled with fun for all the family. Pick up a special toy for loved ones, and if you’re lucky, you might even meet Santa himself🧸 

Catch the next 139 bus to The Strand for Covent Garden. Kick off a very merry Christmas in the famous piazza, home to London’s biggest hand-picked Christmas tree, which is a huge 55 feet tall! 😲 The Apple Market lights are also not to be missed, pick up a festive drink and take a wander around all of the market stalls and stores, perfect for picking up a little something for under your own tree. 🎄 


Number 22 Bus

Start your journey at Duke of York Square where you can admire their Christmas lights, catch a complimentary horse and carriage ride, or take a festive ‘elfie with the angel wing lights hanging from the wall next to Castore. 👼 

Next, hop on the number 22 bus heading towards Oxford Circus where you’ll reach Knightsbridge, hop off and take a short walk to see Harrods, a London icon all lit up for the festive season. Hop off for a spot of Christmas shopping! 🛍 

Continue on the number 22 to Hyde Park and embrace the Christmas spirit at Winter Wonderland❄️ Commonly known as one of the best things to do in London at Christmas, Winter Wonderland features a huge selection of festive entertainment and activities, from ice skating to Christmas markets and live music. ⛸


Number 453 Bus

For this festive trip, you’ll be starting your journey in Marylebone Village. Admire the Christmas lights, enjoy Christmas shopping with extended store opening hours, and pay a visit to Santa’s grotto. ☃️ 

The number 453 will then take you down Regent Street, where you can admire some of the most festive light displays in London. ✨ Hop off outside Hamley’s and head to Carnaby Street for the Carnaby Christmas Kaleidoscope, where over 600 sparkling 3D and 2D butterflies will flutter above you! 🦋💖 

Continue your journey on the number 453 bus towards Deptford Bridge, which will take you towards Trafalgar Square where you’ll have a tree-mendous time. Every year, since 1947, the people of Norway have given the people of London a Christmas tree. This gift is in gratitude for Britain’s support for Norway during World War II. 🎄 This year, you’ll also be able to enjoy carol singers throughout the festive period! 🎶 

But wait, there’s myrrh. 😉 Head to Westminster, where you’ll be able to take in all things Christmas at Westminster Abbey. You might even be able to catch one of their Christmas shows. 🎶 

Lastly, hop back on the 453 and head to County Hall for South Bank, where you’ll find their fabulously festive winter market🎅 This year, you’ll also be treated to cosy festive igloos popping up along the river, where you can enjoy alpine street food and warming drinks. ❄️ 

- -

Number 390 Bus

Start your journey at King’s Cross and head towards Coal Drops Yard to admire their festive display.

Once you’ve shopped ‘til you’ve dropped, hop on the number 390 bus towards Victoria Bus Station and hop off at Tottenham Court Road. Head to So Ho Ho to admire the festive lights.  

Once you’ve explored Soho, head back to the number 390 and cruise down Oxford Street to admire one of the best light displays in London, before stopping at Selfridges for a spot of festive shopping! 🛍 

The number 390 will then take you past the Dorchester Hotel, hop off here to admire their Christmas decorations and maybe enjoy a spot of Christmas afternoon tea. ☕️ Their Christmas tree alone is worthy of a festive snap! 🎄📸 

Lastly, head to Hyde Park Corner and alight for Winter Wonderland. With ice skating, Christmas market stalls as far as the eye can see and circus performances, yule be sorry if you miss it! ❄️ 


Number 94 Bus

This journey starts at Hyde Park where you can get your festive on at Winter Wonderland. With a large selection of market stalls selling traditional festive treats, live entertainment and ice skating rink, there’s something for everyone! 🎼

Hop on the number 94 bus towards Piccadilly Circus which will take you down Oxford Street where you can marvel at the Christmas lights or hop off to enjoy a spot of gift shopping! 🛍

The number 94 will then take you down Regent Street where you can admire the famous angel lights. Known as ‘The Spirits of Christmas’, Regent Street’s Christmas lights display is the largest one in the country. 😲

When you’re all shopped out, hop back on the bus to head towards Piccadilly Circus. Take a short walk to Fortnum & Mason to pick up a festive snack or ornament for your tree before heading to Leicester Square to enjoy their famous Christmas market. ☃️

Best ways to pay

All buses in London are cash-free. You can pay as you go using a contactlessOyster or Visitor Oyster card. You can also use a Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass🎟️ 

Our Hopper fare lets you make unlimited bus journeys within one hour for just £1.55 when you use pay as you go. You can hop on and off as many buses as you like within the hour and only pay for the first bus. 🤗  

Remember children under 10 travel free on buses, and children aged 11 to 15 years old travel free with a 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard. 🥳