Friday, 25 May 2012

London, The Sun Is Shining So Let’s Get Out On The Roof

By Nathalie Bonney.

London is a gazillion times better when it’s sunny; fact. Going for a walk or sitting in the sun are activities elevated from the everyday (or cheap time fillers) to summertime events. The Brits’ motto is when it’s sunny, do whatever you can to be outside. The result? Every patch of green and open space resembles a discarded Solero under attack of the ants.

Pub gardens in London have to be staked out early on in the day and after work al fresco dinner and drinks can more often than not turn into a portion of chips and G&T standing next to a massive wheelie bin. The solution? Kensington Roof Gardens, which is split into three gardens: the Tudor Garden is home to the BBQ guests; Flamingoes Bill, Ben, Splish and Splosh are best spotted in the Woodland Garden, which is quieter and best explored while still light; the most dramatic garden is the Spanish Garden. Drawing on Moroccan influences as well, the VIP area is a swirl of floaty fabrics and cosy cushions. Carefully crated topiary conifers flank the garden’s water features while palm trees, mosaic tiles, Moorish arches and pink walls transport guests to a garden in Granada. Ah bliss, a holiday without the journey.

But remember no airfare = no guarantee of good weather. At the Roof Gardens’ opening weekend temperatures were decidedly un-summery. Seeing your breath while watching fireworks is a pretty good warning signal you’re in Blighty not the Bahamas. Doggedly eating a BBQ outside when you’d much prefer to enjoy your (rapidly cooling) food indoors is another sure sign of being British. Ah Britannia!

Giant parasols, heaters and huge, fleecy blankets ensure that punters can have their BBQ and eat it regardless of the weather, while live music keeps spirits up. The club has a number of house bands including the oh so fun ‘The Essentials’, crooning along to the best of Stevie, Aretha, Lionel and Queen and taking requests from diners.

BBQ highlights include the lightly grilled sea bream, steak and glorious salads. Puds are a bit of a letdown but save some space for a scoop of chocolate mousse and brownie dessert, served in a supersize martini glass.

House music is the genre of choice at the club, but the beauty of Kensington Roof Gardens is that if the music sucks you can just enjoy the garden instead. The downside is if the weather also sucks you’re stuck between a house music club and a cold place (the atmospheric but undoubtedly outside Spanish Garden). The dilemmas of being a Brit.

The weekly Friday and Saturday BBQs run throughout the summer, until 6 October 2012. Thursday 2nd and 9th August also open. Firework displays on special occasions.

Cost: £60 on Fridays (and Thursdays) and £65 on Saturday. This includes a glass of Pimms on arrival, BBQ, dessert and coffee plus entertainment and access to the club afterwards.

To discover more summer roof terraces in London, click here.

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