Say what you will about New York’s regal Art Deco fronted hotels, theatrical department store window displays and big yellow taxis, but there’s only so much you can experience of the city at ground level. And when the mercury rises and crowds descend, savvy locals know there is only one way to escape the madding crowds: via the elevator. Whether you’re a bar-hopping socialite, or just looking for somewhere with a tantalizing cocktail menu for sunset drinks, there’s peace and panoramic views aplenty to be found among the needle-sharp skyscrapers of New York’s skyline. Here are some of the best rooftop bars in NYC to kick back with an ice cold beer and take in those elysian views.
The Press Lounge
Ink48 Hotel, 653 11th Avenue, NY 10036
It might seem like an unnecessary effort when there are so many other rooftop bars in uptown Manhattan, but hitching a bus over to 11th Avenue is well worth the end reward. Spilling out onto an open deck on the 16th floor of the Ink48 hotel, the trendy Press Lounge Bar boasts all encompassing views of the Midtown skyline, made all the more dramatic by the fiery glare of a summer sunset. Chic rattan block sofas and potted shrubs compliment the minimalist décor of the outdoor terrace, creating that Caribbean club house ambiance usually reserved for exotic resort hotels. At $16 for a Bees Knees, prices are a little on the steep side, but there’s additional cover charge and your complimentary savory snack bowl will never be empty!
Gramercy Park Hotel Rooftop bar
Gramercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Avenue, NY 10010
Impeccably elegant and ultra refined, the Gramercy Terrace at Lexington Avenue still lords it over nearly every other rooftop bar in the vicinity. And with good reason. It lacks the pretentious atmosphere of “meat-packing” bars that strive to attract emerging young socialites, yet still manages to maintain an air of exclusivity with its quaint English country garden charm and Michelin standard fayre.
The lofty situ of Gramercy Terrace on the 16th floor of the hotel affords spectacular views of some of New York’s most notable landmarks, such as the Chrysler and Met Life Buildings, but the real appeal about this place is the setting. A secret garden oasis with trailing vines, sprawling ivy and potted rosebushes, Gramercy Terrace feels almost like a private English garden elevated above the hustle of the metropolis. Its as laid back by day as it by night, with a plenitude of cosy nooks to kick back with a book and fresh strawberry cocktail, or enjoy a candlelit picnic with friends.
Salon De Ning
700 5th Avenue, NY 10019
Peninsula Hotel, the trendy East meets West flavor of Salon De Ning inspires a come-as-you-will dress code and relaxed ambiance rare among upscale bars in the city.
Influenced by the story of a fictional Oriental socialite, Madame Ning, the rustic open space combines Shanghai sourced objets d’art with the kind of plush furnishings you’d likely find in a Parisian salon. But, it’s still understated by modern standards. The whimsical cocktail menu sets De Ning apart from its competitors, mainly because of the generous pours, yet also due to the experimentalism of its mixologists. Where else can you find shrimp-based Mojitos offered alongside devilish Tiramisu Martinis infused with chocolate liqueur? Like many a hotel terrace bar, the prices here are pretty steep, but the place redeems itself slightly as they don’t include a cover charge.
Rare View Bar
303 Lexington Avenue, NY 10016
If it’s cheap and cheerful you’re after, Happy Hour at the Rare Bar and Grill’s “Rare View” patio bar is not to be missed. A stark contrast to its trendy sister restaurant downstairs, the open-air rooftop bar atop the Affinia Shelbourne Hotel offers a casual menu of light bites ranging from Parmesan Frites to Salad Nicoise, coupled with an extensive cocktail menu. The theme at Rare Bar was allegedly born from the idea to create an urban tree house space for young trendies, however, the open terrace space has become significantly more popular with visitors to the city owing to its expansive views of the Manhattan skyline and Empire State Building. A chill out space with photo opportunities aplenty!
230 Fifth Avenue, NY 10001
With photogenic views of the Empire State from several different angles, and a whopping 20,000 square feet of sunbathing space, it’s not difficult to understand why 230 Fifth can get pretty overcrowded during summer months. Perhaps all the more surprising is that the majority of bar goers are New York natives. The appeal of 230 Fifth has much to do with the fact it’s one of the most casual rooftop bars in NYC, and prices aren’t dictated by its situ on a prime piece of real estate. The extensive bar menu is also tourist friendly with light snacks from around $7, and a full three course meal setting you back little more than $28. While significantly less diverse than other bars, the cocktail menu does feature an array of delicious Martini options, including the blueberry infused Lychee Cosmo and nectar sweetened Go Man Go.
Image 1: The Press Lounge: Scott Beale