Due to its sheer size and the variety on offer, London is rightfully regarded as a culinary paradise. But even here there are restaurants that stand above the rest. Whether it's because of the interior decoration, the presentation of the dishes, the flavour combinations or some other factor, these places have you leaving with a stunned look on your face and gushing to all your friends about how they absolutely have to go there. Check out our guide to biggest wow-factor restaurants in London and get ready to have your mind blown.
Guide to wow-factor restaurants in London
In this guide
Wow-factor restaurants in London
- The Churchill Arms – The prettiest pub in London?
- Dishoom – 20th century Bombay
- Ave Mario – An Italian feast for the senses
- Petersham Nurseries Café – Pleasant garden relaxation
- Circolo Popolare – Italian fare in opulent decor
- Tattu – Wondrously arranged plates
- Tíng – Unparalleled views
- Brat – Basque-style cooking
- The Petersham – Garden oasis in the city
- Gloria – Crazy takes on Italian faves
- Mirror Room
- Sketch – One of the prettiest restaurants in London
- Amazónico – Immersive rainforest dining
- Yauatcha – Delightfully crafted sweets
- Supperclub.tube – Dining on the tube
- Rick Stein – Fantastic view of the Thames
- Bob Bob Ricard – Champagne at the press of a button
- La Poule Au Pot – Piling on the rustic French charm
- Mari Vanna
- Linnaean – Vegan lifestyle destination
- Uchi – Hushed Japanese comfort
- Brasserie of Light – Dine beneath Hirst's Pegasus
- Clos Maggiore – Romantic oasis by the fire
- Ziggy Green – Margarita fountain ... in a watermelon?
- Sexy Fish – Upscale Japanese food and, yes, a lot of fish
- 14 Hills – Décor to match the view
- Booking Office 1869 – All aboard!
- Berners Tavern – Fine art all around
- Hélène Darroze – Famed Michelin-starred chef's work of art
- Bacchanalia – A feast for the eyes
- Jacuzzi – A disco-themed toilet
- Coya – Outrageous South American brunches
- Aqua Shard – Epic food and epic views
- Searcys – For special occasions
- Sessions Arts Club – Sleek and sexy
Wow-factor restaurants in London
The restaurants that stand above the rest
The prettiest pub in London?
You'd have a hard time missing the Churchill Arms pub in Kensington, seeing as it's regarded as one of the most beautiful pubs in the country – but the fact that its façade is completely covered in flowers can't hurt either. The interior continues the theme with bunches of blooms everywhere, while the broad range of Fuller's ales helps wash down the spicy Thai fare on offer.
20th century Bombay
Dishoom is one of those got-to-try-it-at-least-once London restaurants. All the restaurants are inspired by the old Irani Cafés of Bombay and are a beloved homage to this vibrant period. You can expect music that evokes the Bombay and cafés of this period, authentic chai glasses imported from Bombay, artwork and advertising of mid-20th century Bombay and delicate art deco references scattered throughout. The food is also exceptional; try the black daal with a cheesy naan or the butter chicken if you're a meat eater.
An Italian feast for the senses
Big Mamma Group's Covent Garden flagship overwhelms the senses with elaborate décor and fresh takes on Italian classics, invoking the spirit of that country's trattorias while serving up plate after plate of delicacies sourced from Italian family-run suppliers. With three rooms and two huge terraces, there's plenty of space, yet the attention to detail is apparent in every nook and cranny.
Pleasant garden relaxation
Petersham Nurseries successfully defy expectations about the impresiveness of garden centres with their Richmond café. You'll quickly forget about central London's concrete jungle while enjoying seasonal delicacies in a cosy garden setting will, and the separately-booked afternoon tea in the glasshouse just might top the list of quintessentially British experiences.
Italian fare in opulent decor
Circolo Popolare brings a bit of Sicily to Fitzrovia, but turns the splendour way up. The walls are piled high with bottles and various knick-knacks to great effect, while the menu answers that age-old question: Would you rather have your Carbonara served on a plate or in a pecorino wheel? With ingredients sourced from Italy, the correct response seems clear.
Wondrously arranged plates
Tattu London strives to wow you not just with its venue and location, a Chinese-inspired courtyard house on top of the Now Building, with the view and décor to match. The real ace up its sleeve are the dishes, arranged in clever and wondrous ways that almost make it a shame to sink your teeth in. With their Chinese cuisine combining flavours in new and unexpected ways, the experience as a whole is quite memorable.
It's pretty clear what makes you stand above the rest (pardon the pun) when you're located in the tallest building in the country. Tíng is part of the Shangri-La Hotel on the 35th floor of the Shard and the highest dining experience in the building, and it takes full advantage of the panoramic views of the city. The stylish eatery offers Asian-inspired dishes to go with the setting.
It's all about smokey dishes cooked on an open fire at Brat, a sophisticated East End restaurant influenced by Basque cooking methods. The menu is chock full of delicious meat and seafood dishes, like mutton offal with sausage and beans and grilled mackerel with soused tomato. It quickly nabbed a Michelin star after opening. There's also an eclectic wine list which includes a monthly focus on a specific wine, offering diners an insight into its provenance.
Garden oasis in the city
For those who find the journey to Richmond a bit far just to grab a bite, Petersham Nurseries have kindly opened a restaurant in Covent Garden. Walking in, the shift from the everyday bustle of London to the pleasantly relaxing greenery and elegance of The Petersham might be jarring at first, but you soon won't want to leave this haven in the middle of the city.
Crazy takes on Italian faves
Gloria paved the way for the Big Mamma Group's London expansion with a lush interior, an explosive menu featuring ingredients sourced directly from small producers in Italy, and a funky cocktail menu that powers the late-night vibe. The entire experience is crowned by the "Incomparable Lemon Pie", a humongous meringue that'll quickly have you breaking any self-imposed "no taking pictures of meals" rules you might have.
The Rosewood London hotel hides a gem of a dining room behind its majestic façade. With decorative mirrors all over complementing the subdued living room setting, the Mirror Room is aptly named and exquisitely designed. There's a breakfast menu to go with the all-day dining choices, and the Executive Pastry Chef is fond of creating signature pastries inspired by artists such as Yayoi Kusama.
One of the prettiest restaurants in London
It can be hard to choose the most impressive part of Sketch, the 18th century townhouse near Oxford Circus that contains four different eye-catching restaurants. You can't go wrong with the Glade though. The enchanted forest setting makes it a mainstay on the lists of the most beautiful restaurants in London. It's primarily a breakfast and lunch venue and a place to enjoy a cocktail in the evening, taking plenty of social media snaps along the way.
Immersive rainforest dining
Venture deep enough into London's concrete jungle and you might come up on a, well, jungle jungle. The immersive rainforest environment, full of luscious foliage and natural materials, transports you to Latin America. The tropical flavours, charcoal grilled meats and traditional dishes of the Amazon region are spiced up by a unique sushi menu, while the live house band and resident DJs make sure there's plenty of entertainment as well.
Delightfully crafted sweets
Yauatcha draws the eye in busy Soho with its lovely European-style patisserie offer. The precisely crafted treats draw on Cantonese heritage and ingredients, and their seasonal Easter egg specialty is regarded as the second coming by many. You can get the sweets to go, or you can relax in the teahouse-inspired restaurant in the back, which focuses on a broad selection of dim sum.
Dining on the tube
How about grabbing a bite on the underground? No, we don't mean a sloppy late-night kebab with sauce dripping all over the floor. Supperclub.tube lets you enjoy an authentic Latin American menu in a refurbished 1967 carriage straight off the nearby Victoria Line. This is more a pop-up than a proper restaurant, so opening hours and seats are very limited and advance booking is essential.
Fantastic view of the Thames
Rick Stein's eponymous location in Richmond lets you gaze out at the Thames to your heart's content. The famed British chef, who has also cooked for the Royal Family, is considered an expert on all things seafood. Appropriately, the menu at this riverside sanctuary celebrates the finest seafood from Cornwall, as well as offering breakfasts on weekends.
Champagne at the press of a button
The big seller here is that every table comes with a "Press for Champagne" button, of course, but there's much more to Bob Bob Ricard than just a gimmick. The extravagant dining booths are elegantly styled in the fashion of the Golden Age of Travel in trains, while the British and French dishes on the menu will have you feeling like you're starring in a James Bond film in no time. Even he had to work harder to get his drink, though.
Piling on the rustic French charm
La Poule Au Pot does for France what its sister act Maggie Jones's does for England, without the need to hop across the English Channel. From basketfuls of dried flowers to quaint curios, the restaurant piles up ALL the things for a charming rustic take on the classic French bistro, then carries on in kind by serving up all the French specialties. Yes, there are snails. No, you don't have to try them.
The old-fashioned eatery greets you with lace, matryoshkas, books, lovely china, candles and an immense floral arrangement at the entrance, overwhelming you with the kind of cosiness you might feel in your nan's ancestral home – if she were a powerful Russian matriarch, that is. Traversing various former Soviet republics for culinary inspiration, the cosiness soon settles into your stomach as well, letting you sit back and observe all the bric-a-brac in peace.
Vegan lifestyle destination
With a mirror wall, wicker patio furniture, light wood tones and bunches of colourful flowers everywhere, Linnaean's garden setting provides respite from the urban noise outside. The real curveball comes in the form of a completely vegan seasonal menu, afternoon tea and bottomless brunch included, while the on-site hair salon and beauty and wellness treatments let you pamper yourself even further.
Hushed Japanese comfort
Unlike the typical opulence you find in most of London's prettiest restaurants, Uchi makes a restrained, understated approach work in its favour. The serene Japanese setting with white curtains, light wood, low tables and even slippers keeps the focus on the plates of sushi coming your way, yet still ensures a homely, comfortable atmosphere.
Dine beneath Hirst's Pegasus
The 24ft tall, sparkling Pegasus leaping from the wall above the main dining room is the undeniable centrepiece of this contemporary eatery in the Selfridges department store on Oxford Street. The work of contentious artist Damien Hirst, the soaring sculpture provides extra oomph to the Art Deco setting. Similarly eclectic, the menu offers British and international dishes as well as cocktails, all available late into the night.
Romantic oasis by the fire
You could do worse than sitting beneath cherry blossoms next to a roaring log fireplace if you're trying to take someone's breath away. With a charming conservatory that many consider to be the most romantic dining establishment in London, the intimate Clos Maggiore in Covent Garden is well aware of this. The seasonally changing menu speaks the language of love as well, starting with oysters and running the full gamut of contemporary French-inspired cuisine.
Margarita fountain ... in a watermelon?
A pitcher of margaritas is better than just one margarita (this fact brought to you by the Thatsup team's recent scientific expedition). You know what's even better, though? A watermelon of margaritas. Located on the street immortalised on David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album cover, this tacqueria's biggest hit are the so-called Ziggy Nights, headlined by a spectacular watermelon margarita fountain.
Upscale Japanese food and, yes, a lot of fish
It's called Sexy Fish. Sexy. Fish. Honestly, in our opinion, that really says it all, but if you want more details, fine. There's fish-themed décor by artists such as Frank Gehry and Damien Hirst hanging on the walls, there's fish in two of the largest live coral reef tanks in the world, and there's fish in the form of sushi and other Japanese-inspired dishes on the menu. We'll let you be the judge of how sexy each of those are.
Décor to match the view
You'd think 14 Hills would be content to have you gazing at the London skyline out its 14th floor windows as far as the setting goes, but the glamorous interior, full of greenery and chic furnishings, rivals the view with ease. Whether you're there for lunch, brunch, dinner, innovative cocktail flavours or the plentiful 'grammable set pieces, expect seasonal British ingredients and a hint of French flair.
Opening in the uncertain times of late 2021, Booking Office 1869 took a cue from the timelessness of the famed train station it shares an address with. The impressive room is inspired by St Pancras' original ticket office and features palm trees, wood panelling, pendant lights and a lengthy bar for that old-world European charm and international boldness. The menu makes stops all over the world, stuffing its luggage with everything from schnitzel to gnocchi.
Fine art all around
Berners Tavern, located in the London EDITION hotel and headed by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, might just scratch your fine art itch in addition to sating your hunger. Beneath an elaborate ceiling and chandelier, the sophisticated eatery, hung wall to wall with paintings, offers contemporary British cuisine on its all-day menu.
Famed Michelin-starred chef's work of art
Acclaimed French chef Hélène Darroze's London office at The Connaught hotel is a work of art in itself before you even get to the three-Michelin-starred menu. The elegant dining is all warm wooden hues, pinkish tinges and curved lines, with specially commissioned art by Damien Hirst nestled among them. The intimate dining experience comes courtesy of the personally tailored menu, but booking well ahead is obviously a necessity.
A feast for the eyes
Boasting breath-taking artwork by Damien Hirst, 2,000-year-old antiques and a blessing from the Greco-Roman god of debauchery and decadence himself, Bacchanalia aims to overwhelm the senses with an immersive artistic experience even before the food and drinks arrive. The Mediterranean menu is no slouch either, featuring classic regional specialities reimagined through a prism of sophistication and theatrical flair.
A disco-themed toilet
Jacuzzi is one of Mama Group's latest ventures and one of their biggest. It has space for 170 diners across four vast floors, all decorated in a different colour scheme and theme, including a botanical mezzanine and snazzy disco-themed toilet that comes kitted out with a glitterball. On the menu, you can expect their usually outrageous dishes and comforting Italian dishes, including a chocolate fondue made with half a kilogram of chocolate.
Outrageous South American brunches
This immersive restaurant is more than just a place to eat; it's a multisensory experience from head to toe. You can expect lush hanging plants, contemporary art, vibrant colours, and bold textures alongside beautiful specially commissioned murals by contemporary South American artists. As for the food, there's an à la carte menu as well as a set lunch option, but people flock here for their decadent and colourful Peruvian-inspired brunches with music, dancing, and entertainment. Expect tacos, ceviche, salads, and dishes to share, like Wagyu brisket.
Epic food and epic views
We can't write a wow-factor restaurant guide without including Aqua Shard in it. It's perched atop the 31st floor of The Shard, so you can enjoy a meal with incredible views of the city skyline no matter what seat you end up in. The food here is award-winning British fare that has nailed the contemporary and creative concept, including dishes like venison carpaccio, grilled halibut, and leek and potato ravioli. There is also a range of innovative cocktails to pair alongside your food, or if you're more of an oenophile, there's also an extensive wine list that showcases bottles from around the world, with a more extensive selection of French wines.
For special occasions
Since The Gherkin is a wow-factor element of London's skyline, it seems fitting to include Searcys in this list, where you can enjoy food and drinks whilst experiencing the view from inside the building. This restaurant and bar is spread across the building's top three floors and offers 360-degree views across the city. So, whether you're planning a special occasion, like an anniversary or birthday, or you simply want to have a memorable meal, Searcys is an excellent option.
Sleek and sexy
Sessions Arts Club has a reputation for being one of the most fashionable restaurants in London, and it's easy to see why. It's located in a Grade II listed building in Clerkenwell and boasts a bar, restaurant, and events space in a stripped-back, sexy, stylish decor. Although the vibe is what draws people here, the food is also a catch - you can sample their international menu featuring stand-out ingredients like 'nduja, quail, and white asparagus.