Life On Top: New York’s Best Rooftop Bars

If there were ever a city of the sky, then New York would be it. Fit to bursting with lines of skyscrapers and towers, the city is forever looking up, and the best way to drink it all in is by taking to the clouds. While many of the place’s most famous towers are left to the tourists and the businessmen and businesswomen of the world, there are an equal number of lesser-known spots that open their doors to the paying public every evening. Rooftop bars are a bit of a thing in New York; if you really want to experience what the city is all about, consider finding your nearest skyscraper when you arrive.

When it comes to the best rooftop bars, there is a myriad of choices on offer depending on the side of New York that you wish to experience. Diving headfirst into the local scene is Le Bain at The Standard High Line, a scenester spot that looks over the entirety of the Meatpacking District. Jutting over the water’s edge, the bar offers a view that shows New York as an open, sprawling port. Of course, there’s more to the bar than the view alone, and whether you like fashion spotting, sipping on bespoke cocktails, or reposing in a hot tub, you’re incredibly well catered for at Le Bain.

If waterside views aren’t your thing, however, you can try making a beeline for Azul On The Rooftop, the sky-high bar at Hotel Hugo. Nestled nicely in the West Village, the bar really feels like it’s at the center of the world and, surrounded by an array of mismatched skyscrapers, will show you just what New York City is all about. The bar is renowned for its live music sessions, which pull in guests from far and wide. You might come for the salsa beats but you will most definitely stay for the tropical cocktails.

New York is also known as a city of great contrasts, and if you’re looking for a place in which to drink in all of its differences, Pod 39 is the rooftop bar for you. Located in a heritage building, the bar is decked out in original 1917 architecture and interiors, giving you a glimpse into the city’s colorful past. The terracotta arches frame the midtown skyline and Empire State Building, taking you right into the beating heart of the city. While the cocktails in the place are certainly great, the menu of Mexican-inspired food is what will have you coming back time and again.

Every now and then, you will stumble across something so special and unique that you might just have to write home about it. Enter The Delancey, New York’s very own jungle on a rooftop. Decked out in palms, benches, and fountains, the bar takes on the look of a tropical paradise, helping you to momentarily distance yourself from the hectic city below. You can pull up a pew and watch as the sun sets over the Williamsburg Bridge.

In New York City, there is always something new to try and no matter what you’re looking for, you’re going to be well catered to. If you need a quiet repose from all the city activity, La Piscine is the ultimate cooling-off spot. Located at the top of the Hôtel Americano, the bar comes equipped with its very own swimming pool. Lounging by the water on the most blistering of summer days might just help you to survive the infamous heat that takes over New York in August.

From midnight viewing points to mid-city antiques, New York knows how to make the best out of its space. While the city might be at its most vibrant from the sidewalk, it really comes into its own from the skyline; whether you’re visiting for the first time or after many returns, it pays to drink in all of the city sights.

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.