8 Of The Best New York City Rooftop Bars For Jaw-Dropping Views Of The Big Apple
Flying into New York City is where your holiday begins – thanks to Hollywood, the NYC skyline is something we’ve all romanticised about since we first watched “New York Minute” with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, or “Home Alone: Lost In New York”, and depending on where you sit on the plan, it’s a magic sight you’re treated to as you descend. Once on ground, a trip to the city that never sleeps isn’t complete without immersing yourself in that view from as many angles as possible.
You can, of course, do the classic touristy adventures to Top Of The Rock and the Empire State Building to capture the high-rise sight of New York. But a) it’s hard to visit these locations at the golden hour of sunset, and b) even if you manage to, you can’t do it with a cocktail in hand. Enter New York City’s array of rooftop bars. Dotted all across the city’s boroughs, each offers a different slice of NYC.
Here are a few of our current favourites.
Best for: First-time tourists
If you’re enamoured by the Empire State Building (who isn’t?), you’ll love Refinery Rooftop. It has one of the best views of this iconic piece of architecture, and as dusk settles and the Empire State lights up, you’ll be treated to dinner and a light show. Try to score a table on the outdoor terrace for the best views – if not, the interior bar is always full and thrumming, just don’t get too caught up and forget to head out for a few evening snaps.
Where: Roosevelt Island
Best for: Escaping the crowds
Watch this space because we believe Panorama Room is about to become big news. The hidden gem is situated at the top of the Graduate Hotel and only opened in 2021, so word hasn’t fully gotten out yet about its eye-watering views of Manhattan, and its seriously chic interior aesthetic. A little retro, a little luxe, this would make a great date night spot and it’s easy to get to using the subway.
Best for: Starting the night
Westlight is industrial-chic Brooklyn at its best. Head up 22 levels for panoramic views of Manhattan as the sun sets, and enjoy delicious share plates and cocktails inspired by New York City. What’s best about Westlight is the ample outdoor seating area, meaning scoring the best spot in the house isn’t an impossible feat. Still, it’s worth arriving before sunset if you want the coveted edge tables.
The Ready Rooftop
Where: East Village
Best for: Low key fun
Atop the Moxy Hotel you’ll find The Ready Rooftop, which offers a much more relaxed vibe than many of New York’s fancier rooftop bars. There’s plenty of space to lounge with friends or cosy up in corner nooks with dates, and the eclectic design feels like you’re at a really rich but laid-back celebrity’s personal terrace.
Where: Greenwich Village
Best for: People-watching
This long-standing New York rooftop bar is a must-visit if you want to immerse yourself in the style set. There’s a jacuzzi (and a vending machine where you can buy swimwear, if you forgot yours), skyline views and a pumping atmosphere most evenings, so it’s also a great place to start a party night. Prices are steep, but the energy is always high.
The Summer Club
Where: Long Island City
Best for: Swimming with a view
Many tourists will visit New York and never get off Manhattan. At best, they may venture into Brooklyn – but omitting the other boroughs would be a mistake if you want some of the hippest nightlife the city has to offer. The Summer Club is an NYC oasis on hot days, and a hidden one at that. Perched atop Ravel Hotel in Long Island City, it hosts DJs and is more of a daytime experience, where you can sip a spicy margarita from your own private, shaded cabana.
The Water Tower
Best for: Instagram photos
It doesn’t get more aesthetic for the ‘Gram than The Water Tower, a bar-above-a-bar inside the Williamsburg Hotel. Underneath, you’ll find an outdoor pool with views and, as day turns to night, usually a party atmosphere with DJs spinning decks. Head up the spiral staircase however to The Water Tower, which now houses a small bar, narrow balcony and a more subdued lounge atmosphere.
Where: Rockaway Beach
Best for: Something different
Beach views? In New York? You might not be visiting NYC for its beaches, but a trip out to Rockaway Beach is worthwhile. Full of history and offering up a different side of the city, it’s now home to a seriously stylish rooftop bar courtesy of The Rockaway Hotel. With its pale wood accents and abundant natural light, the bar feels like its been lifted from Malibu, and offers great views of the Manhattan skyline and the Atlantic Ocean.
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