London's Best Private Dining Experiences For Under £50
From reservation hacks to affordable set menu options, this is how to do private dining on a budget.
Much like preheating the oven and resisting the urge to eat an entire tub of Nutella at 4pm on a Sunday, privacy is a critical part of your wellbeing as a grown-up. Privacy is nice because you get to see the people you like without having to mix with the people you think you don’t like because their laugh reminds you of your Year 7 PE teacher who permanently haunted you via the medium of hurdles. You see, private dining slaps.
But, hold on to your overdrafts, because in London restaurant privacy comes at a cost. That cost being a small fortune and the stress of asking your friend if they could forego rent and just donate it to the booking fee instead. But not on our watch and not at these restaurants and bars. From booking hacks that will give you the chance to take over cosy corners of some of London’s best restaurants to private dining rooms that cost as little as £30 per person, these are the spots that will give you privacy and more bang for your buck.
The PDR situation: a private room that you can decorate to your heart's content.
Cost: in the words of Ye, it’s Free.99. You just have to pre-order your food in advance.
Planning an outdoor Amalfi coast-themed party in a city like London relies on too many variables. The most critical, and helpfully unpredictable, is the weather. That stunning British weather. Book the private room at this multi-storey Balham bar and restaurant for summer feelgood energy, without having to google last-minute flights to Naples. There’s a long drinks list that covers everything from pints to pornstar martinis, and their private dining room is spacious and comes with no booking fee—just huge windows, huge speakers you can play your own music from, and huge birthday potential. The only thing you’ll have to do is make sure your guests pre-order from the all-day menu of solid brunch and burger options.
The PDR situation: a private room that will speak to your Tuscany-loving soul.
Cost: £35-£45 per person (food included)
What do we want? Pasta and privacy. When do we want it? Well, minus the two weeks of the year when we optimistically attempt intimacy on Hinge, pretty much always. Bancone is one of our go-to spots for great affordable pasta and their private dining room is quite the looker. There isn’t a booking fee but you will need to order the feasting menu which will set you back £35 per person for lunch or £45 per person for dinner. Yes, it involves lots of handmade pasta, delightful nibbles, and cannoli too. The private dining space in Covent Garden can seat up to 12 but they also have a private area at the Soho spot for 14 with the same set feasting menu. Hello fresh pappardelle and big laughs.
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The PDR situation: an indoor cabin and some very cute outdoor sheds aboard a barge. Yes, that’s a thing.
Cost: it’s totally free, baby.
We owe Barge East in Hackney Wick a great debt. Not because we ran off with one of their mulled cider teapots without paying—although tempting—but because we once forgot to book a place for a mate’s birthday and Barge East just so happened to have a free table. We looked incredibly thoughtful for booking a private table on a boat ‘weeks in advance’. Thank you Barge East. And you’ll be thanking them too because not only do they have a private ‘Captain’s Cabin’ that you can book for up to eight people, they also have charming ‘big ski energy’ cabins for six in their garden that come complete with blankets and hot water bottles for chilly evenings. That’s right, hot water bottles. We love to see it.
The PDR situation: book for eight plus and casually take over their shop room.
Cost: £45 per person (food included)
Life hack: go to Quality Wines. That’s it, really. If you ignore everything else on this website, that intel will serve you well. A daytime shop that turns into the most charming little restaurant come evening, this place in Clerkenwell has our hearts. That’s just how good their British small plates are. All of this is made even better by the fact that they have a big group table which you can book online for the whole evening. It can seat up to 12 people and although there’s no booking charge, you’ll need to get involved in their £45 chef’s menu—what a tragedy, you’re all going to have to eat delicious osso bucco and some of London’s best focaccia. Plus, there is something deeply lovely and memorable about having dinner surrounded by jars of homemade jam and neatly stacked cans.
The PDR situation: rustic and deeply adorable little outdoor huts.
Cost: no charge, no fee, no fuss.
If you’re a sucker for colourful awnings, plaid blankets, and checked tablecloths, then boy oh boy do we have the private dining space for you. Greenberry Cafe has sheltered outdoor dining pods that can seat up to eight people. Being a quaint little cafe in Primrose Hill, they’ve filled them with William Morris wallpaper and given each pod a name like Bora Bora or Capri. Hello, adorable. On the menu you can expect things like arancini, lamb burgers, and classic salads, but the real power move is to come for a big private birthday brunch over eggs royale and one too many bloody marys.
The PDR situation: converted toilets that are actually very cool, OK?
Cost: £39 per person (food included)
Spending your night in an old public toilet might sound more like the birthdays of your student years than the sophisticated private dining experience you’re looking for these days, but that’s exactly what Coal Rooms has to offer. They’ve converted the old ladies toilets of Peckham station into a moody, candlelit restaurant with a private dining room. It's perfect for a grown-up birthday or an opportunity to get merry on wine and porchetta with 16 of your nearest and dearest while working your way through the £39 sharing-style menu.
The PDR situation: a warm first floor dining area with—swoon—foliage.
Cost: £40 per person (food included)
Bubala are experts at giving vegetables sex appeal. Okay yes, we will expand on that, thank you for asking. A small vegetarian restaurant in Spitalfields that’s big on halloumi, confit potato latkes, and a tahini ice cream we love more than 98% of our friends, we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll leave here with a happy stomach and with a renewed obsession for aubergine. Their private dining room, which can seat up to 24 people, on the first floor has no minimum charge or booking fee, you just need to order their ‘Bubala Knows Best’ set menu. You’ll also have access to the speaker, so might we suggest a little Prince to match the seductive prowess of their salty but sweet mushroom skewers.
The Prince Alfred
The PDR situation: big private booths in their downstairs cellar.
Cost: no booking charge or minimum spend
Don’t get us wrong, we love all pubs. That’s just what watching EastEnders during our formative years taught us. But we do have a real soft spot for The Prince Alfred in Maida Vale. Thanks to its setting just off of the canal, authentic Victorian details, and friendly locals, it’s just a deeply lovely place to have a pint and some polite little nibbles. Or, as luck would have it, a private space for the grand booking fee of zero pounds. Although their downstairs cellar area will set you back £200 if you exclusively hire the whole space, you can request one of the private booths free of charge. If exposed brick and candlelight isn’t your thing, you can also ask for one of the big group tables at the front of the pub. The original Victorian divides are still in place so it very much feels like you’ve got your own private area. Long live The Prince Alfred.