When I first moved to London, I was obsessed with the city’s museums. Some of the best museums in the world are here, and locals and visitors are overwhelmed with options for even the most niche of interests. But one thing I discovered only after my first trips to see some of the city’s top collections is that in addition to amazing art, artifacts, and objects, there are some great restaurants in many of the museums. After nearly 8 years of exploring, today I bring you A Lady in London’s guide to the 8 best museum cafes in London.

British Museum Great Court

The V&A
The V&A has always been my favorite museum in London, and when I discovered its cafe I fell even more in love with it. The intricate designs on the central columns, sparkling globe chandeliers, and beautiful stained glass windows are enough to keep me away from even the best exhibitions (and the V&A has some of the best in London!).

V&A Cafe

Serpentine Sackler Gallery
I’m a fan of anything designed by architect Zaha Hadid, and The Magazine restaurant at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery is firmly on my list of the best museum cafes in London. The curves on the roof first drew me in through sheer curiosity, and the space itself wins me over every time.

Serpentine Sackler Gallery

Royal Academy
I went to the Royal Academy on Piccadilly a million times before I ever knew The Keeper’s House restaurant existed. But the intimate space with its soothing green walls and classical casts is a great place for a peaceful lunch away from the bustle of central London. The service can be spotty, but the overall experience is usually good. The Keeper’s Garden opens up in the warmer months, too.

Royal Academy London

Burgh House & Hampstead Museum
Up in Hampstead, most people walk right by Burgh House without realizing it’s a museum. But the unassuming building is fronted by a gorgeous garden full of secluded little tables and chairs. The Buttery Cafe at Burgh House is the perfect place for weekend breakfast or a cup of tea in the afternoon. I used to live right down the street, and I popped over to read a book on sunny days whenever I had the chance!

Burgh House Buttery

Kenwood House
Not far from Burgh House, Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath has a great outdoor cafe in front of its lush sprawling lawns. The food is cafeteria-style and can be a bit uninspiring, but it’s the perfect place to relax over a cuppa after a long walk through one of London’s biggest and most beautiful parks. Keep an eye out for local celebrities while you’re there, too!

Kenwood House

Tate Britain
Tate Britain often takes a back seat to its modern counterpart across the Thames, but its restaurant certainly doesn’t. The Rex Whistler restaurant not only has good food and one of the most impressive wine lists of any museum cafe in London (and many of the city’s restaurants, too), but also a great space with tables surrounded by the specially commissioned mural from 1927 entitled The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats. It recounts the journey of a group of seven people who set out in search of exotic game!

Dessert at Rex Whistler Restaurant

National Gallery
I don’t know how I managed to visit the National Gallery so many times without even realizing it had a restaurant, but I finally discovered The National Cafe and I’m glad I did. It has a modern feel, with pink chairs and tall windows that let lots of natural light through. A pre-museum breakfast is a great way to start a day of gallery-going.

The National Cafe at the National Gallery in London

British Museum
Most people know the British Museum for the antiquities, but the restaurant in the stunning Great Court is another reason to visit. Even if it’s just to take a break after a long morning of exploring the Egyptian treasures or marveling at the Rosetta Stone, the restaurant is an ideal place to soak up the atmosphere of the museum and admire Norman Foster’s amazing architecture.

British Museum Great Court

How about you? What do you think are the best museum cafes in London?

32 Comments on Lady’s 8 Best Museum Cafes in London

  1. The cafe at Down House near Bromley is my favourite – it’s based in the servants’ quarters that Charles Darwin built while he was living there. They do a lovely cream tea 🙂

  2. I ate at the V&A cafe on my very first trip to London and it’s still one of my fondest memories from the trip. On top of being simply gorgeous, that fish pot pie thing w mashed potatoes on top was to die for!

  3. I love a museum gift shop and cafe. Both come high on my list of reasons to visit a museum 😛
    Great list you’ve compiled here, now I’m trying to think of my own to add, but I’m not coming up with London based ones.

  4. It probably doesn’t really count as a museum café, but the Royal Opera House Amphitheatre Bar serves light lunches and snacks throughout the day. The patio seating has wonderful views overlooking Covent Garden. It’s open to the public and is a great way to end a backstage tour of the ROH.

  5. Really enjoyed reading the article as it reminded me sweet memories of all the places, I will add the café in the Portrait galery, really cozy feeling with great views.

  6. Oh, crumbs. I confess I get bored awfully quickly in museums – although I did enjoy the National Portrait Gallery and London Transport Museum. But I absolutely adore museum cafes. The V&A looks gorgeous, thank you for the tip.

  7. Yes to the Tate Britain. I had an amazing lemon tart at its cafe during a visit this spring. I’ll have to try the cafe at the National Gallery next – it looks so cozy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.