Combine the best of cosy, high-end cocktail bar design with the unsurpassable magnificence of an open night sky and fresh air, and you have an unbeatable setting for a great night out.
Nothing beats the magnificence of a rooftop bar because nothing humans can make holds a candle to that great, dark dome of air, studded with glittering stars and the passing flashes of airliners and satellites… throw in a great panoramic of some of the world’s most interesting cities and we can’t even ask the question ‘Are rooftop bars on the rise?’ because the truth is: they were never on the decline.
No matter where you go in the world on holiday, you are almost guaranteed an excellent choice of rooftop bar. Here are top choices of the best rooftop bars in the world.
SKY at Anantara Kihivah Maldives Villas, Maldives
Extensive travellers sometimes feel like they’ve seen it all – but have you ever been in a bar with its own observatory? Assuming you haven’t, SKY is a place worth checking out.
The rooftop itself is a modest two stories high, typical for the Maldives, and that well-grounded positioning may have been the impetus for its primary feature: a functioning observatory – the largest telescope and observatory in the Indian Ocean, in fact.
In case you haven’t already considered why it would be placed there, imagine being out in the great dark sea, far away from the light-clouds of giant cities and roadworks. Out there, the world is as it was a thousand years ago… shrouded in darkness for hundreds of miles around you. There, within your little dome of soft lighting, you will see stars – such stars – like few places on earth can come close to.
Add that atmosphere to high-quality cocktails, liberally endowed, and no place to drive to afterward… true island relaxation will seep into your very bones.
Altis Avenida Hotel, Lisbon
For those who find the food at least as important as the cocktails, the Michelin-starred Atlis Avenda is sure to put a smile on faces early, and keep them there until that last moment of wakefulness at the end of a satisfying evening.
Lisbon’s climate is perfect for rooftop lounging – not too hot or too cool, and augmented with views over some of the most beautiful architecture: The Rua Agustina Arch, the Santa Justa Lift, Rossio Plaza, and nature’s own contributions in the form of the river and rocky, castle-topped hills.
Combine these great views with a cool Art Deco décor, muddle gently, and spice with excellent offerings from skilled mixologists – and enjoy.
Azul on the Rooftop, New York
Lower Manhattan sprawls out below this Cuban cantina like a concrete forest studded with Christmas lights. The friendly, casual-chic atmosphere – perched atop the Hotel Hugo – evokes a surreal sense of sitting in a little, treetop Caribbean island amid the thrum and hustle of the Big Apple below.
The 360-degree views mean sights of city and sparkling water await, whichever you’re in the mood for. Sip a Spiced Mango Smash while gazing at the Statue of Liberty, or a spicy El Tapatio while honouring the Freedom Tower monument, or just take in the panorama of it all and sample something else from their innovative offering.
Take a step into Old Havana, without ever leaving New York.
Popinjays, Hong Kong
British rule may have ended in 1998 for this little island, but in many ways, the Empire’s footprint is still clear to see. One example is the more than a dozen different variations on G&T available in Popinjays restaurant and bar – and these are just a small part of the extensive selection of beverages available.
The French influence is there too, as you’ll have an extensive menu of fine French dining within arm’s reach. You may have to feel around for it, as your eyes will be busy taking in the glittering surroundings of the busy Hong Kong skyline.
Despite being on the 25th floor (the rooftop of course), Popinjays gazes eye-level at a distant forest of skyscrapers of assorted shapes and sizes, each of them lit against the night and providing a light show every night of the year.
High Note Sky Bar at Aria Hotel, Budapest, Hungary
What we love most about this place is the tasteful combination of elements. It has modern, bright and clean cushions and topiary, combined with rattans and woven furniture that highlights the patio-feel and won’t let you forget that you’re sipping an excellent cocktail in the great outdoors – as if you could forget, given that your field of vision takes in stunning historical buildings like St Stephen’s, with its domes and stonework that almost give the impression that they are the pillars that hold up the sky.
Daytime or night-time, and in any season, the High Note is a one-stop gem of international liquid delights. Elegant cocktails themed on the French countryside, Japanese orchards, and other equally creative drinks show off both the talent of the house mixologists.
This may not be the highest rooftop bar in the world, but it packs the best of a dozen cultures into its offerings. It’s well worth a few hours of your time – any time of day or night.
Moon Bar at Banyan Tree, Thailand
Bangkok is a city that can become a bit overwhelming at times, with its massive crowds, constant noise, and almost frantic degree of activity, day and night, all year long… if you find yourself there and in need of rising above it all for an evening, the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel may be the Shangri La your weary soul – and feet – may be yearning for.
Golden light and smiling service welcome you to the hardwood floors and Thai-themed luxury setting of this hideaway. It towers above the surrounding buildings, seeming to float like a ship or a cloud over the sparkling city below. The heat is gently wafted away on the cool breeze and cooler cocktails. Nothing like the cinnamon-rum flavour of a Dragon Ball to cool the skin and warm the heart all at once.
If you’re feeling daring, take a stroll out onto the cantilevered selfie platform. For those whose knees are a bit weak at the thought, perhaps a few rounds are needed first. In either case, you won’t forget your time there, and on your next visit you’ll be welcomed back like an honoured friend.
AER at Four Seasons Mumbai, India
The 34th floor of the Four Seasons looks out above all other structures in the area, and it is on this secluded pinnacle that you will find the modern, stylish, and all-around cool vibe of AER waiting for you. One look out over the Arabian Sea and the mystique of India will settle on you like a refreshing breeze.
Soft lighting and transparent Plexiglas barriers offer a beautiful, 360-degree view of all that lies around and below you as you take in the cool of the evening with a dew-dappled drink in your hand.
The sweet experience of a Mumbai Kiss will fill your mouth with the taste of pineapple, cherry and cardamom while the energy of the place will envelope you in welcome.
Skybar at SLS Baha Mar, Bahamas
Once a haven for pirates and deserters, Nassau has managed to carve out a reputation for the best of Caribbean-style relaxation and fun. Something about that long heritage of nonconformity lingers in the air, and it is an easy place to let go of worry and external expectation… to just relax in the rich sea air and fresh breezes.
The Skybar at SLS is one of the best places to experience this easy-going vibe. Laid out on the rooftop of the Baha Mar, this little bolthole is reminiscent of seafaring life at its best. The teak flooring and deep green vegetation evoke a bygone age and lifestyle, best contemplated from one of the comfortable, clean-lined furnishings.
The retractable canvass sunshades further enhance the chic-nautical feel as they sit above your head like furled sails. One can sit back and watch the soft white clouds drift by through clear blue skies, sipping on a Pear Fête or a Skybar Lemonade. They serve French-pressed cocktails too, for that added bit of pageantry and service, and a quality selection of sea-based small bites and specialties from the raw bar are only a word away.
You may not be a pirate, but there’s no reason you can’t climb aboard a rooftop bar and steal a little time away from life down below.
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