Best bistro sets 2021: outdoor dining for small spaces

The best bistro sets for small gardens, patios and balconies; enjoy stylish outdoor dining for two with these space-saving table and chair sets

A green metal bistro set on decking overlooking a lake
(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Looking for the best bistro sets? If you want to make the most of a small outdoor space, whether that's a bijou balcony, a compact courtyard, or a tiny terrace, then you’ve come to the right place. 

A space-saving bistro set is the perfect way to maximise the use and enjoyment of a smaller garden, and in a larger outdoor setting a stylish two-seater table and chairs can be used to great effect to create an intimate dining experience tucked away from the main garden. 

Whether you're thinking of a classic metal table and chairs, a wooden dining set, timeless rattan or a colourful, contemporary two-seater set, we've sourced the best options to complement a wide range of garden styles. 

And there's plenty of ingenious design in this edit too; from clever chairs which tuck under the table when not in use to create a smaller footprint, to collapsible options that fold away for space-saving storage when not in use.

Have space for a little more seating? Check out our guide to the best garden furniture of the year for more outdoor lounging and dining options, otherwise, read on to find the best space-saving solution for you.

The best bistro sets 2021

A green metal bistro set on the boardwalk overlooking a lake

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

1. Garden Trading Rive Droite Bistro Set

Best bistro set: a classic metal two-seater table and chairs in a good range of colour options

Specifications
Materials: Powder-coated steel
Dimensions: Table: H71 x Dia.60cm, Chair: H80 x W41 x D46cm
Colours: 10
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Classic design+Good range of colour options+Collapsible for space-saving storage+Also available in a four-seater option
Reasons to avoid
-Metal can get hot in the sun

The classic French-inspired Rive Droite set from Garden Trading is the archetypal metal bistro set, featuring two slatted dining chairs and a circular metal table.

Available in a great range of colours, from the heritage Greengage (pictured) and Lulworth Blue to brighter Lemon yellow and Pomegranate red, as well as the more muted Carbon black and Chalk white options, there are plenty of choices to create a stylish alfresco seating area.

And for the ultimate in space-saving versatility, both table and chairs are collapsible and can be folded away and stored when not in use. There's also a larger four-seater option available if you have the space to opt for a slightly more generous dining set. 

A rattan bistro set with two armchair style padded seats and a glass-topped table

(Image credit: Dunelm)

2. Dunelm Lisbon 2 Seater Carver Bistro Set

Best rattan bistro set: timeless design and comfortable armchair seating

Specifications
Materials: Polyurethane 'PE' rattan
Dimensions: Table: H74 x W70 x L70cm, Chair: H89 x W60 x L62cm
Colours: Natural
Reasons to buy
+Timeless rattan look+Elegant design+Comfortable armchair seating+Padded cushions included
Reasons to avoid
-An investment

Rattan makes a timeless choice for outdoor furniture, complementing either a classic formal courtyard, a country cottage garden or a contemporary urban roof terrace.

This PE rattan bistro set evokes the natural rattan look with woven weather-resistant synthetic fibres used to add all-season durability outdoors.

The high-backed dining armchairs - with cushions included -  offer a more comfortable seat than many bistro sets, and the spacious dining table gives ample room for enjoying an intimate meal for two.

A contemporary rattan bistro set on a paved patio

(Image credit: Habitat)

3. Habitat Tara Rattan Bistro Set

Best contemporary bistro set: stylish curved lines in weather-resistant PE bamboo

Specifications
Materials: Polyurethane 'PE' rattan
Dimensions: Table: H50 x Dia.44cm, Chair: H76 x W71 x D62cm
Colours: Rattan
Reasons to buy
+Contemporary design+Chairs can stack for space-saving storage
Reasons to avoid
-Table too low for dining

If you're looking for a bistro set you can use for an early morning coffee or evening sundowners rather than the full-on alfresco dining experience, then this two-seater lounge set makes a great option for a modern garden.

The weather-resistant PE bamboo is a good imitation of the real thing, and the curved design creates an organic feel which offsets the harder lines of contemporary outdoor space.

Although the coffee table may be small, the deep chairs make for a comfortable sitting experience, and for space-saving storage, the seats can be stacked on top of each other to create extra floor space. 

A folding wooden bistro set

(Image credit: John Lewis)

4. John Lewis & Partners Venice 2-Seat Folding Garden Bistro Set

Best value wooden bistro set: a very affordable folding table and chair set

Specifications
Materials: FSC-certified eucalyptus wood
Dimensions: Table: H74 x W72 x D72cm, Chair: H91 x W42.8 x D54.4cm
Colours: Wood
Reasons to buy
+Great value+FSC-certified eucalyptus wood+Collapsible for space-saving storage
Reasons to avoid
-Wood can need some maintenance to preserve its weather-resistance

A great-value bistro set, this classic wooden two-seater option is a great fit with nearly any style of garden. 

Made from FSC-certified eucalyptus wood, the octagonal bistro table and two chairs fold for easy storage meaning the compact design is perfect for balconies and small patios.

Despite the small price point, this set also has one of the largest tables of any bistro set on our list, and matching chairs are available separately if you want to extend your seating.

A contemporary metal bistro set in teal blue with mesh-backed chairs

(Image credit: MADE)

5. MADE Tice Garden Compact Bistro Set

Best value contemporary bistro set: modern design at an affordable price point

Specifications
Materials: Powder-coated steel
Dimensions: Table: H75 x W52 x D92 cm, Chair: H68 x W46x D47cm
Colours: Teal
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Contemporary design+Chairs tuck under table when not in use
Reasons to avoid
-Metal can get hot in the sun

MADE is well known for its contemporary design, and this metal bistro set is no exception. 

Featuring two mesh chairs with curved backrests and roll-edged seating, the vibrant teal colourway will look great in a modern outside space. 

The powder-coated steel table is also a really good size, and we like the rectangular shape which makes for a more spacious dining experience than a circular table-top. Plus the chairs can be tucked neatly underneath the table surface when not in use - great for clearing the decks to free up floor space on a small patio.

A rattan bistro set with two armchairs and a small glass-topped table

(Image credit: VonHaus)

6. VonHaus Rattan Bistro Set

Best value rattan bistro set: classic design at an affordable price point

Specifications
Materials: Polyurethane 'PE' rattan
Dimensions: Table: H60.8 x W48 x D48cm, Chair: H89.5 x W60 x D60cm
Colours: Grey
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Timeless rattan+Comfortable armchair seating+Padded cushions included

If you love the look of rattan but want a budget option, then this PE rattan bistro set offers great value for money. 

The table is a little small for dining, but for a relaxing cup of coffee with a friend, the high-backed armchairs with armrests make a great spot for lounging. 

Cushions are also included, and the muted grey weave complements a range of outdoor surfaces, from brick to paving.

How to choose a bistro set

Before you invest in a bistro set, it's well worth considering these key factors:

Size

Just like with any other furniture, make sure your chosen bistro set will fit comfortably in your outside space before you buy! Ensure there is enough space to move around the furniture comfortably and to be able to fully pull the chairs in and out for easy access. We’ve specified the height, width and depth for each of our best bistro sets to make comparison easier.

Material

While most manufacturers will recommend storing your bistro set under cover during bad weather, there’s always a chance you’ll forget when it starts pouring with rain. Check the recommendations for your bistro set and ensure the material is durable enough to withstand the elements. For the full low-down on which materials are the most durable outdoors, we recently asked three garden furniture experts 'is outdoor furniture weatherproof', so have a read to discover the key factors to consider when shopping. 

Functionality

If you need to be able to store away your bistro set out of season, choose a design that’s foldable or stackable. You can also find some added protection from the elements in our guide to the best outdoor furniture covers

Amy Lockwood
Amy Lockwood

Amy writes about interiors and decoration for Livingetc, Homes & Gardens and Real Homes, bringing her design expertise outdoors into the garden for Gardeningetc. 


Initially honing her green thumb growing indoor plants in her first-floor apartment, Amy greatly appreciates the benefits we gain from coexisting with plants, including improved wellbeing, air purification, and reductions in the chemical VOCs that are slowly released into our homes from manmade materials. 


Amy’s wider interest in gardening embraces the design principles of permaculture; considering how we can best balance our valuable outdoor spaces to restore health to our own patches of soil, boost diversity for plants and wildlife, grow healthy nutritionally-dense food, and embrace outdoor living with style-conscious design that helps us to relax, entertain and improve our overall wellbeing through relationship with nature.