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15 New York City rooftop bars you have to visit

No concrete jungle in the world has been celebrated with as many undying odes as New York City’s has. Sparking inspiration for countless songs and raps, artworks, jazz themes and, of course, films throughout the centuries, it comes as no surprise that there are as many rooftop bars in New York as there are ways to admire the city. For those fond of those big city lights, great conversations, great music, and the comforting wash of perspective that comes with people-watching with a drink in hand, we give you 15 of our favourite rooftop bars with the best views in New York City.

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Atop the swanky William Vale hotel in Williamsburg, Westlight offers panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, 22 floors over the East River — our Editor-in-Chief’s favourite view, in fact. With an extensive boutique spirit list, cocktails here contain few ingredients, allowing each to shine. They also pair spectacularly with a menu by James Beard award-winning Andrew Carmellini — think charred eggplant dumplings, tuna tartare puffs, and fried ‘filthy’ green olives made with blue cheese.

Westlight, 22/F, The William Vale, 111 N. 12th Street, Brooklyn, New York, +718 307 7100

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The Skylark

Skip the lines at the Empire State Building or nearby Top of the Strand, a perennially popular, albeit dated, choice for King Kong views — at The Skylark you are immersed in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, where its roof terrace puts you so close to the Empire State Building you can almost touch it. Inside, plush interiors by Meyer Davis Studio make for a stunning date night with floor-to-ceiling windows showing off the best of the glittering city. A menu of stylish, well-considered cocktails pairs with a long list of bar bites — substantial enough for dinner and dessert. Take note the bar is closed on the weekends for private events only.

The Skylark, 30/F, 200 W. 39th Street, New York, +212 257 4577

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Bar 54

High above Manhattan at the top of Hyatt Centric Times Square, Bar 54 gets bragging rights as the highest rooftop bar in town, with sweeping river-to-river views and a sun soaked terrace. Just around the corner from the lights and craziness of Times Square and the theatre district, Bar 54 is a safe haven above the bustle with an impressive cocktail list spanning four categories, from “shaken and refreshing” to “bubbles and fizzes” — though its prices match its sky-high location. For the indecisive, servers are whip-smart with recommendations. Go just at the cusp of evening when the city begins to light up.

Bar 54, Hyatt Centric Times Square, 135 W. 45th Street, New York, +646 640 3791

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1 Rooftop Garden

The 1 Rooftop Garden at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is an LA-style tropical oasis, primely located by the water in the trendy DUMBO district (that’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Perfect in the summer for an icy whisky smash, the rooftop bar serves poolside-appropriate libations year-round. For non-hotel guests, a $20 entry fee will be charged from 4pm–midnight, and on weekends from noon-midnight. US$4 of every entry fee will be donated to the Oceanic Global Foundation, which benefits efforts to save and protect our oceans.

1 Rooftop Garden, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, 60 Furman Street, Brooklyn, New York, +347 696 2500

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A60 (Above Sixty)

It can be tempting to huddle down at one of the Sixty Soho’s other establishments for a cosy nightcap, whether its French bistro Bistrot Leo or the lush high-ceilinged lounge at the Gordon Bar — both equally fantastic stops in the midst of an afternoon stroll along SoHo’s charming Thompson Street. But up top at A60, you’ll find a quaint, leafy hideaway, with one of the most exclusive views of the Manhattan skyline. The bar opens seasonally only to the public starting in May — perfect timing for cracking open a bottle of rosé.

A60, Sixty Soho, 60 Thompson Street, New York, +877 431 0400

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The Roof at Public Hotel

Opened in 2017 by NYC hospitality veteran Ian Schrager of legendary former nightclub Studio 54, Public Hotel’s rooftop bar is one of the most anticipated and exciting venues in New York of late. By day, the terrace offers relaxing communal tables to soak up the sun (better with some frosé in hand), and by night, it oozes sexy city vibes — particularly with its chic interiors and regular guest DJ programme. With panoramic views over the Lower East Side, you’ll want to come here in good time to catch the sunset wash over New York’s skyline.

The Roof, Public Hotel, 215 Chrystie Street, New York, +212 735 6000

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The Ides

It can feel like summer all year long at The Ides bar, with house cocktails like the Mercy, Mercy Mercy, made with mezcal, cucumber and spicy Combier; or The Dizzy World, a gin and tonic float with housemade sorbet. Located at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, The Ides’ sixth floor terrace bar puts you at pleasing eye level with the Manhattan skyline. Bathed in sunlight, it makes for a terrific sundowner whether you’re seated indoors or out.

The Ides, The Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, +718 460 8006

Image credit: Matthew Williams

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Pod 39 Rooftop Lounge & Bar

A hop and a skip away from the Grand Central Terminal, the Pod 39 budget hotel may sound like an odd place for a spectacular rooftop bar, but the Rooftop Lounge sits pretty above lobby restaurant Salvation Taco with its unique ambience: part funky latin cantina, part red brick, ivy-laden courtyard. The romantic terrace wouldn’t look out of place as the backdrop of a telenovela set piece — with panoramic views of the Empire State and the Chrysler buildings to boot. Head for the happy hour, stay for the delicious tacos.

Rooftop Lounge & Bar, Pod 39, 145 E. 39th Street, New York, +844 763 7666

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The Crown

Sip cocktails among the clouds at The Crown, the rooftop bar high above the hubbub of Chinatown at the top of the Hotel 50 Bowery — where you can survey your kingdom, so to speak, with views over the city stretching as far as Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey. The ambience here is understatedly cool: industrial edginess meets chic copper accents meets an airy, muted palette. Cocktails here pair craft spirits with Asian influences, such as with The Crown Manhattan — which features a Sichuan tincture along with rye whiskey and sweet vermouth.

The Crown, Hotel 50 Bowery, 50 Bowery, New York, +646 630 8057

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Hong Kong’s own Ophelia may be all about the dreamy spectacle, but the recently opened (non-affiliated) one in New York City is an art deco dream atop the historic Beekman Tower in Midtown East. Sitting 26 storeys high, the show you’ll be getting here is the 360-degree view of the East River and the Manhattan skyline from the greenhouse terrace. Ophelia is designed to resemble a jewel box, with interior designs flavoured after the decadence of the 20s and 30s, paying homage to the building’s original architecture.

Ophelia Lounge NYC, The Grand Terrace, 26/F, 3 Mitchell Place, New York, +212 980 4796

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The Press Lounge

The Kimpton Ink48 Hotel boasts one of New York’s most stunning and spacious rooftop bars, with 360-degree views overlooking the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline. The long water feature in the centre of the terrace bathes its well-heeled cocktail hour customers in a slinky cool blue, while elegant furnishings in leather and sculptural rattan make it feel like a resort oasis tucked in the midst of the Big Apple. Seasonal libations await, with cocktails that would please any craft spirits aficionado. If you’re looking to impress someone important, this is the place to do it.

The Press Lounge, Kimpton Ink 48 Hotel, 653 11th Avenue, New York, +212 757 2224

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230 Fifth Rooftop Bar

With its expansive terrace staring straight at the Empire State Building and over its prestigious address at Fifth Avenue, 230 Fifth is equally popular for after-work cocktails and weekend brunches. Classic cocktails, a wide-ranging beer and wine list and a laid-back ambience tick all the boxes for those who just want to sit back and relax. 230 Fifth is also open year-round — heated see-through igloos protect you from the cold in the wintertime, making it an ideal spot for a steamy cup of Baileys hot chocolate while you drink in the view.

230 Fifth Rooftop Bar, 230 Fifth Avenue, New York, +212 725 4300

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Cantor Roof Garden

After a long day browsing The Metropolitan Museum of Art, there’s nothing better than winding down with a glass of wine at the fifth floor Cantor Roof Garden — complete with its enchanting views across the treetops of Central Park and its surrounding skyscrapers. You don’t need to order anything to admire the view while seated at a bench or on the lawn, but we’d recommend taking advantage of the short but sweet menu which features a handful of wines by the glass, and four simple cocktails referencing pop culture. Take note you’ll need a ticket to enter The Met before you’re able to access the roof garden — just head through the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts galleries and take the elevator to the fifth floor.

Cantor Roof Garden, 5/F, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Ave, New York, +212 570 3711

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The Roof at the Viceroy New York

For lush views above uptown — and a slice of Central Park to boot — head to The Roof at the Viceroy Hotel Central Park. The space here is reminiscent of an old school luxury airliner, with luscious wood finishings, brass details, walnut-and-leather sofas and artwork depicting sky, sea and clouds.You’re on top of the world here, especially with the menu featuring small-batch spirits, local craft beers and a substantial global wine list. A small list of bar bites comes from Kingside downstairs — be sure to give the house burger and shrimp tacos a spin.

The Roof, Viceroy New York, 120 W. 57th Street, New York, +212 830 8000

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Rooftop Reds

Perhaps one of New York’s most unique rooftop spaces, Rooftop Reds is not just a place to sip wine while overlooking downtown Brooklyn, it’s also a rooftop vineyard and winemaking facility — New York’s first commercially viable one of its kind. The Rooftop Reds’ first harvest was 2017 October, using grapes from New York state’s Finger Lakes region. You’ll find six types of wines produced here, and you’ll be able to sip among these and other Finger Lakes varietals when you visit. A fantastic array of events round out the calendar, so there’s never a dull moment — from pizza and movie nights to sunset yoga, rooftop happy hours, and wine, cheese and chocolate tastings.

Rooftop Reds, The Navy Yard, 299 Sands Street, Building 275, Brooklyn, New York, +703 582 8609

Evelyn Lok
Managing Editor
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. At Lifestyle Asia she covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.