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Alfresco London: 7 Summer Hot Spots

The English have always loved their gardens, but in summer, London goes above and beyond, offering a variety of dazzling places to explore and relax al fresco in the city and surrounding region. Indagare’s London-based contributor Elena Bowes rounds up her picks for the outdoor attractions that should not be missed.


Richard Caring’s Caprice Holdings added another feather to his restaurant cap with the Ivy Chelsea Garden. Housed in a nearly 300-year-old building, the renovated space features a romantic green garden out back. The extensive all-day menu includes classic English treats like toasted crumpets as well as such international fare as tuna carpaccio with spiced avocado, crème fraîche and coriander shoots. Don’t skip the crowd-pleasing chocolate bombe—a sinful sphere of chocolate which, when doused with warm salted caramel sauce, melts to reveal a core of milk foam, vanilla ice cream and honeycomb. The garden doesn't take reservations (although you can make one for the dining room and request to be seated outside), so go early to secure your spot by the trailing wisteria and climbing roses.

Dating back to 1853, the Phene (9 Phene St.; 44-207-352-9898) is a charming pub on a quiet cul de sac in the heart of Chelsea. Book a table on the secluded terrace during the week from noon to three, or come early on weekends, when the shaded space fills up by noon. Patrons can choose from over 30 wines by the glass, and the fried calamari with chili sauce is a must-try.


Firmdale Hotels’ Ham Yard, is one of the city’s most stylish hotels. It’s also a destination for those looking to escape the crowds of Soho and enjoy a meal in the tree-filled courtyard garden, which centers around a bronze Tony Cragg sculpture.


Courtesy the Serpentine Pavillion, Iwan Baan

Courtesy the Serpentine Pavillion, Iwan Baan

The tranquil, orchard-oasis feel of the Serpentine Gardens comes alive every summer when the Serpentine Gallery unveils its annual Pavilion designed by an architect-of-the-moment.

Off the Beaten Path

With its rural setting, world-class art, delicious organic restaurant and cool vibe, Hauser & Wirth Somerset (Durslade Farm, Dropping Lane, Bruton; 44-174-981-4060) is a great destination for a day in the countryside. To reach the museum complex, take the express 90-minute train from Paddington to Castle Cary, and then drive 20-minutes to the property (Indagare Tip: book a round-trip taxi and make your lunch reservation at on-site restaurant Roth Bar & Grill in advance). Make a weekend of it and stay at the nearby hotel At the Chapel (, a converted church full of H&W art complete with a popular bakery and pizzeria.

Built in 1720 for Great Britain’s first Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall ( the Norfolk estate includes a five-acre walled garden and several contemporary outdoor sculptures. Plus, it’s home to a herd of white fallow deer that roam in the park surrounding the Hall.

Published onJune 2, 2015

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