A bird’s eye view is one of the most important ways to get a picture of the steel and concrete beauty of one of the world’s greatest city - New York. While the famous views from the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Building are stunning, their sheer height means you lose perspective on the city’s details and idiosyncrasies. From 70 flights up the concrete jungle becomes an indistinguishable monolith. And you also obviously lose the sight of those two iconic buildings themselves.
The best place to get a view of Gotham City is from one of its rooftop bars and restaurants. From the lower heights, you get an intimate picture of the individual neighbourhoods, combined with beautiful elevated views. The rooftops provide sanctuary from the packed subways, honking horns and crammed sidewalks, without taking you too far from the chaos that New York’s urban vibe is built on. We’ve put together a list of our top New York rooftop bars and restaurants to enjoy a view of the city.
The Garden Bar at the Met Fifth Avenue
The Knickerbocker Hotel
In the neon-light heart of New York’s Times Square there’s an exclusive spot hidden from the hordes of tourists. On top of the recently renovated Beaux-Arts landmark Knickerbocker hotel is the luxurious St Cloud bar that celebrates the traditions of New York. On entry, buttoned up bellhops will direct you to the lift, where, on the 16th floor the terrace with its ivy covered walls provides views over the bustle of Times Square. Its sophisticated cocktail list is perfect for the long summer nights watching the rest of the city stuck in a sweaty commute.
Le Bain at The Standard, High Line
Looking for a bit more fun when it’s getting a little later, try Le Bain on the rooftop of The Standard, on the city’s famous High Line - the elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad. While everyone else is taking selfies from the High Line’s park, sit back and enjoy views over Hudson river, the ultra cool meatpacking district and towards Greenwich Village. Described as “a penthouse discothèque and rooftop bar” keep an eye on Le Bain’s calendar to catch some live jazz, or some late night dancing at its weekly gigs.
Westlight Bar - The William Vale, Brooklyn
From the 22nd-floor the Westlight rooftop bar crowns The William Vale - one of Brooklyn’s best hotels - and has views back across the East River to Manhattan. File through all the cool kids of Williamsburg - the borough’s hippest neighbourhood to get to the 360 degree views of the city. You will also find a classic cocktail list, delicious tasting plates, and comfortable couches; a perfect way to spend a long afternoon.
The Refinery Hotel
The Refinery’s rooftop bar was voted the city’s best by USA Today. Set in an old hat factory, the bar’s sophisticated interior, with exposed brick walls and a high wooden ceiling, feels like you have stepped back in time. Outside, it sits in the shadow of the Empire State Building and you have to stretch your neck to gaze up at its art deco spire. It’s intimate and private with deep couches that surround the fire. But don’t be afraid to have a dance after a few drinks, because there’s live music too.