New Yorkers may spend their days storming the streets and riding the subway, but when it’s time to unwind, they go all the way up – to the city’s best rooftops. Urbanites live for rooftop season, which runs from about May to October, and NYC delivers with a roster of rooftop bars that are the best in the world.
There are dozens to dip in to, but these are our favourite sky-high spots.
Good Story at Arlo SoHo
Arlo SoHo, 231 Hudson St, Soho
Nestled above the Arlo Hotel, this rooftop’s tagline is scrawled over its brick wall: “every night should end with a good story”. We couldn’t agree more! With picnic tables and strings of light bulbs, the bar has a laidback vibe, and is perfect for catching the sunset over the Hudson River. And if you’re peckish (or just #adulting and lining your stomach), you can order Mexican-style snacks and share plates.
Hotel Indigo, 180 Orchard St, New York
Gritty-meets-pretty in the Lower East Side, and Mr Purple has a lofty view of the action (and purple cocktails to match). Part of Hotel Indigo, the 15th floor bar is a place to see and be seen – kind of like The Ivy, but less wanky. There’s a pool, plus an indoor and outdoor area dotted with leather lounges and banquettes. But its main attraction is the view, which stretches all the way across Manhattan – we’re talking 360 degrees.
Roof at Park South
Park South Hotel, 125 E 27th St, Gramercy
When Friday night rolls around, locals sip on a strong drink and forget the working week at the Roof at Park South. It’s relaxed and somewhat hidden, so you’ll have some room to move around – a luxury in a city as chaotic as this! The roof deck has insane views over the NYC skyline, and colourful umbrellas to fend off the sun if you decide to start early. If the temps have dropped, the team cranks up the fireplace so they’ve got you covered
Further downtown? Pop into Tiki Tabu at the Sixty LES hotel. The chic bar will take you straight to the tropics – think palm-printed couches, lush greenery, and strawberry daiquiris.
McKittrick Hotel, 542 West 27th St, New York
Trade in the urban jungle for a lush rooftop escape at Gallow Green. One of downtown’s hippest hangouts, the terrace is seriously beautiful, with twinkling fairy lights, flowers, and plenty of plants. If you can, get there early so you can score a seat (and the most coveted Insta shot) in the antique railcar. And if you’re in the mood to be #cultured, sign up for Sleep No More, the interactive theatre experience a few floors down at the McKittrick Hotel.
Sucker for fairy lights? Us, too. Check out La Birreria, an easy-breezy beer garden above Eataly in Flatiron, or Night of Joy, a whimsical rooftop (with graffitied walls) in Williamsburg.
Public Hotel, 215 Chrystie St, Lower East Side
Glitzy, glamorous and so New York-scenery, Public made a splash when it opened last year, and skyrocketed to the top of every hit list. In a prime position on the Lower East Side, Public’s outdoor area is sleek and sunny, with uninterrupted views of that skyline. Plus its frose is on point. When the sun dips, all the beautiful people head to the dimly lit indoor bar, which ramps up when a DJ spins the decks.
The Jimmy at The James is an equally swanky bar-slash-roof-deck. You can sink into a velvet couch inside, and catch up over the candlelight, or mingle with a martini by the rooftop pool.
92 Ludlow St, Lower East Side
This Parisian-inspired pretty little thing is a multi-tasker. During the day, Hotel Chantelle is a go-to brunch spot: think bottomless mimosas, hearty food (aka hangover specials) and a live band crooning in the corner. After dark, it descends into debauchery – there are multiple levels of bars, dancefloors and DJs, plus that rooftop terrace under the stars to escape to when it all gets too sweaty.
Le Bain at The Standard
The Standard High Line, 444 West 13th St, New York
On balmy summer afternoons, New Yorkers stroll to The Standard. It’s the ultimate Sunday session spot, thanks to its grassy (artificial) lawn, colourful couches, cocktail pitchers and a cute crepe stand. And then there’s the view, which takes in Manhattan and the Hudson River. Come nighttime, the playful vibe gives way to a full-on party, complete with DJs, a d-floor and – wait for it – a hot tub. Do your worst.
Want to rage on a Tuesday? Maybe you’re not in NYC on the weekend, or maybe you simply can’t wait. If that’s the case, head to PHD at Dream Downtown. It turns up every single night of the week, and is worth checking out at least once.
McCarren Hotel Rooftop
McCarren Hotel, 160 N 12th St, Williamsburg
Heading over the bridge now to Brooklyn, where the views of the iconic Manhattan skyline are even better. Skip The Ides at The Wythe (unless you’re willing to wait in line) and go to McCarren Rooftop. It hosts an amazing day party, and an even boozier night with the help of an impressive line-up of DJs, dancefloors, and free-poured drinks. And if the sun is sizzling, you can dip downstairs to the pool deck.
William Vale, 111 N 12th St, Williamsburg
Perched atop of Williamsburg’s William Vale hotel, Westlight is industrial-chic and as Insta-worthy as it gets. Twenty-two floors up, the rooftop bar sits in a slick glass box. The effortlessly cool theme continues with black-and-white tiles, bright lights and plush couches, but the best spot to settle in is outside. The tables are lively and look across the river to Manhattan – and the deck even has binoculars, because New York’s always ready for its close-up.
12 Franklin St, Greenpoint
As you might have guessed, this bar is proudly Aussie-owned. Occupying a huge corner in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, there’s a pub downstairs featuring murals by local artists, and an L-shaped roof deck upstairs for warm-weather boozing. It attracts a laidback crowd of chillers and hipsters, plus more than a few Aussies satisfying their cravings for a meat pie.
Words by Katia Iervasi