High in New York City
Feel on top of the world at these trendy rooftop bars as you tap into New York City's diverse culture
For a few months each year, New York City’s (NYC’s) rooftop bars open up for locals and tourists to bask in the summer light and enjoy the city’s skyline. When I lived in that city, they were my favourite part of the warm weather. There’s something electric and quintessentially NYC about their vibe and ambience that literally and figuratively makes me feel on top of the world. This year, when I returned to the city after two years, I couldn’t wait to check out old favourites and new launches in search of NYC’s best rooftop bar. It was my ode to a city that was once home, for each bar reflects the culture of the neighbourhood it’s located in. For instance, Meatpacking’s Le Bain is super glamorous and chic, while Brooklyn’s Wythe Hotel Rooftop is hipster central, and Midtown East’s Refinery Rooftop is full of the post-work crowd and preppy college students. This list of my favourites is also a glimpse of the diverse culture of NYC.
Le Bain is a glamorous penthouse discothèque and rooftop bar at the top of the Standard Hotel. It has a creperie, a jacuzzi and one of the best views of the city’s skyline. Get here before 4 pm to avoid the long queues, and mingle with celebrity DJs, models and “fashionistas" while sipping on overpriced cocktails. Get a crêpe on your way out.
Press Lounge at the Kimpton Ink 48 Hotel is great for its artisanal cocktails made with fresh local ingredients. My favourite is their signature drink, The Maiandra, made from mixed berries, lime juice, ginger beer and maple syrup. Savour the delicious concoctions while soaking in panoramic views of Manhattan.
La Birreria at Eataly
Enjoy house-brewed craft beers at this rooftop microbrewery and Italian restaurant. It offers a traditional beer-drinking experience, with cask ales that are unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated. Elbowing past the numerous tourists at bustling Eataly is worth it for the high-quality beer and the rooftop’s beach-inspired décor. The cabanas, beach umbrellas and benches will transport you to the Italian seaside.
The Ides Bar
The swanky rooftop lounge on the sixth floor of the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg has an exclusive, members-only vibe. The décor is minimalistic and the views of Brooklyn and Manhattan spectacular. The crowd is of the sort you’d expect to meet at an artist’s loft party, with globetrotters and the creative sorts.
The Refinery Rooftop’s “industrial chic" interiors and open-air patio make you feel like you are stepping back in time. It’s located right in the shadow of the Empire State Building on the roof of the Refinery Hotel. Try their flatbreads or sliders for brunch, or a cocktail from their seasonal cocktail menu for evening drinks.
Lower East Side
Mr Purple is NYC’s trendy spot this year. The Instagram-worthy rooftop bar at Hotel Hugo has a pool, 360-degree views of the city and draws the it-crowd. Though the lounge is huge with two outdoor terraces, queues begin from 3pm on and it can take an hour to be seated.
Pod 39 Rooftop
This affordable bar has dreamy Latin-American vibes and views of the East River and Empire State Building. The rooftop has beautiful exposed brick arches and romantic fairy lights strung between terracotta columns. Snack on the Mexican-inspired scrumptious food and drinks (try the Salvation Margarita or the Chilean Sangria).
Rare View Rooftop
This no-frills bar has a laid-back vibe. Think upbeat backyard-garden ambiance, gorgeous skyline views and a local crowd spanning all demographics. Have their signature Mango Margarita or homemade pitchers of sangria. For dinner after drinks, head to the Rare Bar & Grill downstairs for some burgers.
The Cantor Roof Garden Café & Martini Bar At The Met
Upper East Side
Take a break from NYC’s hustle-bustle to mingle with art aficionados at the gorgeous garden-bar on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is currently showcasing an Argentinian art installation called The Theater Of Disappearance. Sip on A Mother’s Love, a delightful cocktail with tequila and pineapple juice, while looking over serene Central Park (see box).
The Monarch Rooftop is an unpretentious spot with pretension-worthy views of the Empire State Building. Refuel here between shopping sprees (it’s located bang opposite Macy’s). The 18th floor penthouse lounge has a fun college vibe that’s perfect for large groups.
Navigating The Met
A trip to New York City is incomplete without a visit to the iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET). But the mammoth facility can be hard to navigate. Here’s a list to help plan your visit.
Temple of Dendur
Travel back in time to 10 BC Egypt by visiting the actual Temple of Dendur, which was gifted to the US by Egypt in 1965.
An entire medieval court has been recreated in the cathedral-style wing that was part of the original structure of the MET in the 1880s. It has over 1,400 works of art and objects from the 12-15th centuries.
‘Panoramic View Of The Palace And Gardens Of Versailles’
This panoramic painting by American artist John Vanderlyn transports visitors to Versailles. This very realistic work was painted by American artist John Vanderlyn in the 19th century.
Jackson Pollock’s ‘Autumn Rhythm (No.30)’, 1950
Pollock’s unorthodox drip-painting method is on display in this stunning work, which shocked the art world in the 1950s.
‘Bridge Over A Pond Of Water Lilies’ (1899), Claude Monet
This painting of Monet’s favourite subject—water lilies—is the most viewed painting on the MET’s website. It is from Monet’s most famous series of water lilies at a footbridge in Giverny.
The Astor Chinese Garden Court
It took 26 Chinese artisans six months to create this replica of a Ming dynasty garden, complete with a pond, granite terrace, plants, rocks and ceramic tile flooring.