With the weather warming up, rooftop bar season is almost here, and with it, the chance to make your friends jealous with the perfect Instagram shot of a cocktail against a spectacular city view – you know the one. To celebrate, we’re spotlighting some of the most notable rooftop bars worldwide and pitting them against each other to determine which one truly makes the best Instagram post.
We start our tour in New York. Next week we’ll cross the Atlantic to Paris, followed by London, the Caribbean, Mexico, East Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as a number of notables we’ve missed, in subsequent weeks. To participate just take a look through contenders and pick your favorite in the poll above – the winner will advance to the final round.
Salon de Ning at The Peninsula New York
We start the contest with a touch of luxury, as well as a stellar view over Fifth Avenue and the midtown Manhattan skyline. Drawing inspiration from the life of Shanghai socialite Madame Ning, the vibe here straddles the divide between ancient and modern, with design accents like intricately carved Chinese screens and an arrival corridor lined in Venetian mirrors. A limited small plates menu is available for snacking, plus wine by the glass and a range of signature cocktails like Bird’s Eye (Maestro Dobel Diamante Tequila, agave nectar, red thai chili, raspberry, lime) or the Ning Sling (Hendrick's Gin, fresh mint, lychee & passion fruit.) Good to know: the bar is bookable for private events. Reservations are only accepted for the lounge seating areas or groups of 20 or more.
Gallow Green at The McKittrick Hotel
In Chelsea, this “garden party” inspired space is perched atop The McKittrick Hotel, which is really the performance space for “Sleep No More,” an interactive, avant-garde take on Macbeth. Notable for its relaxing setting in an array of lush greenery, the cocktail menu here tends toward the old-timey – think punch bowls.
St. Cloud at The Knickerbocker
A relative newcomer – this space opened back in 2015 – this bar is the place to take in Times Square without worrying about the crowds. For even more exclusivity, three corner Sky Pods overlooking the street below are available. In addition to a cocktail menu, a lineup of craft bottled beers and small plates with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients are also served here. Depending on the day, guests can also take in a rotating lineup of entertainment.
Westlight at The William Vale Hotel
Hopping across to Brooklyn, Westlight at The William Vale Hotel opened this past fall on the 22nd floor. The Williamsburg location means guests have a full view of the Manhattan skyline, and the bar program aims to showcase both original and classic cocktails, along with spirits, craft beer and wine. For snacking, the small plates draw inspiration from global street food with items like seared octopus skewers and shrimp cocktail dumplings.
On Manhattan’s Lower East Side, The Delancey’s rooftop bar is the top of a three level club that is also home to a downstairs music venue and main level bar. Designed as a tropical oasis, a retractable roof means parties can take place here rain or shine, even when it’s not technically rooftop bar season. The rooftop is also bookable for private events, either on its own or in combination with the lower two levels.
Le Bain at The Standard, High Line
After a day on The High Line, New York’s hottest new public park, travelers can dance the night away at Le Bain, a penthouse discothèque and rooftop bar on the top floor of The Standard, High Line. During the summer there’s also a plunge pool on the dance floor and a crêperie. Warn your clients: admission is determined at the door, so dress your best!
PHD Terrace at Dream Midtown
More views of Midtown and Times Square are available at the PHD Terrace at Dream Midtown, which has both an indoor and outdoor rooftop space. Designed to resemble a luxury penthouse, the venue is fully enclosed during winter so guests can enjoy rooftop views year-round. Another location is also at the Dream Downtown.
Top of the Strand
Set on the 21st floor of Midtown’s Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, the Top of the Strand is another year-round venue with a retractable glass roof. The drinks menu runs the gamut from a full lineup of cocktails to beer and wine, and private event packages are also available.
The Press Lounge at Kimpton Ink48 Hotel
At Kimpton’s Ink48 Hotel, which just underwent an extensive renovation last summer, this Hell’s Kitchen bar offers panoramic views and a seasonal cocktail list. Small plates range from an assorted salumi dish to cheese plates and house-made hummus. An “elegant casual” dress code is enforced – no beachwear or baseball caps – and the bar is bookable for private events.
The Loopy Doopy at Conrad New York
On the 16th floor, The Loopy Doopy at the Conrad New York looks out over Lower Manhattan and serves up fun cocktails like the Prosecco & Ice Pop, which is pretty much what it says on the tin. (Ice pop options vary on a monthly basis.) Small plates are also available to snack on. While the bar does not accept reservations, it is bookable as a full buyout, and is also available for photo shoots, weddings, gatherings and outdoor meetings during nonoperational hours.