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Top 10 rooftop bars in New York
Read time: 6 mins
New York, New York – everyone wants to be a part of it. But how do you become a part of the cool New York scene? In our eyes, it’s by heading to the rooftop bars. Sophisticated, fun, tranquil, wild, loud, calming, quirky, beautiful…all of these words best describe Manhattan’s myriad of rooftop bars, but which one best suits you? We’ve collated our favourite open-air bars in the big city, from the unique, to the classy.
The Roof at the Viceroy Central Park
Where: On the top of Viceroy Central Park New York in Midtown Manhattan, West 57th Street.
The scene: You’ll feel like you’re flying high above beautiful Central Park thanks to this bar’s luxury airline aesthetic and dramatic views. Fit with brass details, cushy leather sofas, and gorgeous photos of the sky and clouds created by famed photographer Dalton Portella, The Roof is a very sleek and modern affair, offering a nonchalant hangout for New York’s sophisticated cosmopolitans.
Signature drink: Gerber Group are known for creating fresh, innovative nightlife hangouts, all boasting a fantastic array of classic and modern cocktails that are curated with fresh, regional ingredients.
Take a bite: With such a cool-guy vibe, it’s no wonder the snacks here are simplistic and stylish, yet with a hint of hipster charm – think artichoke hummus and avocado toast.
Zerzura at Plunge, Gansevoort Meatpacking
Where: This funky rooftop bar is set above Gansevoort Hotel Meatpacking, 9th Avenue.
The scene: A very Instagram-worthy hotspot indeed - the bar’s dark, neutral walls and floors are brightened with intricate Moroccan inspired handmade tapestry and furniture, creating an African styled retreat. Named after the mythical oasis located deep in the desert, the young, lively vibe here really makes you feel like you’ve stepped into somewhere magical. If that’s not all, the 360 degree views of Manhattan’s skyline and the Hudson River provide the perfect backdrop for partying way into the night.
Signature drink: Take your pick from the bar’s unique cocktail names, including the Shark Tank with its blend of diplomatico rum, lime, mint, crème de peche, champagne and peychaud bitters, or the unusual Smashing Pumpkin, which mixes atlantico rum with cocchi Americano, pumpkin syrup and red bull.
Take a bite: The tasty, Mediterranean food here is influenced by the eclectic interiors, offering favourites such as hummus, flatbread, and sandwiches.
Soundtrack: With such a hip vibe, it’s no doubt the rotating roster of New York DJs offer fun beats and loud music as you sip on your Smashing Pumpkin.
Where: St Cloud’s refined ambience is found atop the Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square.
The scene: Get ready for an air of sophistication at this upscale rooftop bar, offering stylish guests a sleek exterior and chic cigar lounge overlooking one of New York’s most iconic areas. The décor here is pretty understated, letting the strong cocktails and incredible views do the talking, boasting a suave speak-easy ambience. The main attractions here, though, are the three luxurious corner Sky Pods that jut out above the busy streets of Time Square.
Signature drink: Legend tells us that the martini was invented in Knickerbocker’s barroom in 1912, so be sure to try St Cloud’s version of this iconic cocktail.
Take a bite: The dishes here only add to the polished atmosphere of St Cloud, consisting of seasonally focused small plates, including crispy tuna tacos and pork belly.
Sky Terrace at Hudson
Where: This rooftop bar sits on top of Hudson Hotel, West 58th Street.
The scene: Welcome to this outdoor oasis, with comfy loungers, patio-styled seating and bright hammocks surrounded by ivy canopies and an abundance of verdant potted plants. The garden inspired décor creates a lovely, tranquil ambience, and the perfect place to while away the afternoon with friends. In the evening, the lit lanterns that flood the bar with light only add to the calmness and picturesque views.
Signature drink: The cocktails here are just as charming as the décor – try one of the speciality spritzers, including Strawberry Rose, or treat yourself to the frozen watermelon and coconut mojito.
Upstairs at the Kimberly
Where: 30 stories high atop the Kimberly Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, East 50th Street.
The scene: Dark woods, ornate furniture, ivy laden bars and fairy lights strewn above the seating areas create a slightly Gothic, yet cool ambience. Retractable glass walls and ceilings mean that you can enjoy a cocktail with a view no matter what the weather – and what a view indeed, with the iconic Chrysler Building soaring high above the bar. This rooftop bar is classy and inviting, and smart attire is required, so be sure to head here if it’s a refined evening you’re looking for.
Signature drink: There are plenty of fabulous signature cocktails here, including the Chrysler – champagne cocktail made with fine honey, Hennessy Black cognac and fresh lemon and lime.
Take a bite: Choose between a myriad of delicious and innovative snacks, including decadent spiced duck cigars with pomegranate dipping sauce, and yellowfin tuna tartare.
Living Room Bar & Terrace
Where: Found on the fifth floor of W New York in Downtown Manhattan.
The scene: W New York’s take on an ordinary living room is quite a psychedelic affair, offering plush couches, brightly patterned cushions, and a funky ceiling that seemingly curves over the seating areas, its LED lighting bouncing off the smooth granite floors. The bold designs create a flirty vibe, making this one of the biggest hotspots for the hip New Yorkers.
Signature drink: The custom cocktails are just as fun as the décor, including the Sunset Park Mule with its spicy blend of Herradura reposado and ginger beer.
Bringing the fun: This isn’t just a place to drink and chat – why don’t you play a specially designed board game, or even read one of their books?
Where: This pretty bar is located on the roof of Refinery Hotel, West 38th Street.
The scene: One phrase to describe Refinery Rooftop would be ‘industrial chic’ – a gorgeous, eclectic mix of rustic charm, neutrals, bright pops of colour, copper and wood furniture, canopies of fairy lights, and luscious potted plants. Don’t forget the views – the incredible scenes of the Manhattan skyline and Empire State Building offer a dynamic backdrop for a cosy yet fun evening with friends.
Signature drink: The cocktail list is where this homely rooftop bar comes to life. Alex Cott, the curator of these innovative drinks, uses his background in biochemistry to create impressive concoctions that he says will ‘cleanse your palate and shift your mood’. Try the Rooftop Margarita – a tangy blend of Patron Resposado, clementine cordial, fresh lime juice, agave, and muddled jalapeno.
Take a bite: Adding to the ‘bring your friends’ vibe, Refinery Rooftop has a great variety of sharing platters, including flatbreads, grilled fish tacos, sliders, and ice cream sandwiches. It’s a delicious menu to accompany a long catch up.
Soundtrack: Up-and-coming live DJs and jazz performers add an enjoyable atmosphere throughout the week.
Top of the Strand
Where: This rooftop lounge sits on top of the Strand Hotel, West 37th Street.
The scene: The dramatic view of the Empire State Building is enough to bring flocks of city dwellers to the Top of the Strand. But look away from the incredible structure and you’ll find yourself in a modern splendour – created by Lydia Marks, the set designer for Sex in the City, this rooftop bar is a young cosmopolitan’s dream. The bar is made atmospheric by the flickering candles and lanterns dotted in between potted plants, the long wooden banquettes decorated with rural tartan cushions, and the impressive views adding to its contemporary city charm.
Signature drink: There are plenty of fine wines and great beers here, including a Pumpkin Ale that tastes like ‘coca-cola in beer form’, as well as fabulous cocktails. Try the Honey Miss Daisy, a sweet and spicy mixture of tequila blanco, pomegranate, sweet vermouth, burnt honey and tobasco.
Take a bite: The menu here is simple yet effective; including lamb ribs, nuts, chips and charcuterie - but the speciality is definitely their Double Maine Lobster Rolls. With twice as much meat as other restaurants, including the juicy tail meat, this sumptuous butter poached whole Maine lobster is layered into a soft roll and served with the hotel’s own vinegar chips.
Roof at Park South
Where: Sitting pretty on top of Park South Hotel, East 27th Street
The scene: Had a busy day exploring New York’s streets? Roof at Park South offers the perfect place to unwind after a tiring day - just grab yourself a stall and perch yourself next to the expansive, exposed brick fireplace. Overlooking the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, you and your buddies can sit back and relax on the comfy banquettes as the glistening lights of Manhattan’s skyline sparkle in front of you. The vibe here is always buzzing with flocks of friends catching up over a sultry cocktail, the simplistic orange and wooden décor and friendly staff members making you feel right at home.
Signature drink: This bar offers a straight forward menu of classic cocktails curated by Ted Kilpatrick, all with very clean, simple tastes. Have a taste of the Italian Greyhound, a blend of punt é mes and grapefruit juice poured over ice with half a rim of salt, or the Whisky Smash with rebel reserve bourbon, mint syrup, lemon, and more mint.
Take a bite: From shrimp cocktail and chicken wings, to pizza and burgers - the food menu is again a simple one, but packed full of flavour.
Where: This quirky rooftop bar sits on top of The McKittrick Hotel – a warehouse that hosts the very popular interactive theatre performance ‘Sleep No More’. West 27th Street.
The scene: As the home of the wickedly unique Sleep No More theatre performance, it’s no surprise this hotel’s rooftop bar puts on a show. Wander up the lift and you’ll find yourself in a dark train station, before emerging into the daylight and into a luscious oasis of purposely overgrown shrubs. A beautifully unkempt garden right in the middle of one of the world’s liveliest cities, this is definitely a unique hideout for people who want something a little different from the norm. The décor will make you feel like you’re back in the country, with weathered signs, pebbled floors, worn-out wooden benches, and quaint bunting, creating a fun and eccentric atmosphere.
Signature drink: Sit amongst the ivy covered walls and treat yourself to one of the punch bowls. One of the local’s favourites is the Sleep Bowmore Punch, mixing single-malt scotch with Madeira wine and orange shrub, sweetened with dememara sugar, lemon and nutmeg.
Take a bite: Fancy a cosmopolitan styled brunch? Head here for a stand-out open buffet, featuring delicious dishes including grilled asparagus, smoked salmon, an array of pastries, and a popular yoghurt station. Don’t forget the fried chicken, it’s the signature dish here, and served with homemade black pepper and honey.