Get us in your inbox

Search
E.P. & L.P. rooftop bar
Photograph: Courtesy E.P. & L.P.

The best rooftop bars in L.A.

We’ve tracked down the best views and vibes—some even have great cocktails!—from Santa Monica sunsets to the Downtown skyline.

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Edited by
Patricia Kelly Yeo
Contributor
Stephanie Breijo
Advertising

What is it that they say about L.A.’s smog? Oh yeah, the reason for its beautiful sunsets that never get old. Make the city’s pollution and marine layer work for you at these sky-high cocktail bars, where the views rightfully rival the booze. With so many new rooftop restaurants and bars in town, we’ve narrowed this list to the best drinking-oriented spots in the city, rather than full-blown dining destinations. They run the gamut from low-key Westside rooftops to see-and-be-seen hotspots in West Hollywood, with a few longtime favorites thrown in for good measure.

Most take walk-ins, thankfully—and those that require reservations aren’t necessarily the places we’d endorse paying for a full meal anyway. None of our picks require a cover fee or drink minimum, unless stated otherwise.

From rooftop watering holes in Downtown and Hollywood to a few tried-and-true beachside bars in Venice and Santa Monica, here are the city’s—literally—top rooftop bars.

June 2022: Just in time for summer, we’ve refreshed our rooftop bars guide with a slew of vetted new rooftops. Enjoy!

The 15 best rooftop bars in L.A., ranked

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Downtown Historic Core

No matter how many new rooftops open, we always come back to Perch, one of the prettiest rooftop bars (and bistros) in town. Patterned tile floors, potted trees full of twinkly lights and charming seating combine nightly for a scene full of Downtown locals, plus a few hundred of their closest friends. Though it’s often crowded inside the interior boudoir-themed bar, you’ll find plenty of breathing room and even a few fire pits on the outdoor patio. From any seat, you’ll want to sample the selection of kir-style cocktails that go beyond crème de cassis. The after-work crowd drops in for happy hour, dubbed Apéritif Hour, weekdays from 4 to 6pm, while late-night partygoers and music-lovers can enjoy frequent DJ sets and live bands. Reservations and walk-ins.

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Downtown

Like moths to a flame, the Freehand Hotel’s trendiest clientele and youngish Angelenos from all over flock to this quirky, colorful and palm-laden rooftop bar above Downtown L.A. Cool off with eclectic, moderately priced cocktails—with some equally colorful garnishes—served from the thatched-roof bar, including the tropical-leaning, tequila-based Litty City, which incorporates lime juice, coconut chai tea cordial and bitters made of celery, coconut and pandan. Food-wise, there’s guac and chips, chicken wings and tacos and even a falafel burger, all of which make for great finger food while taking in sunset views of Downtown. Reservations and walk-ins.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

Despite being in the douchiest and one of the seediest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, we’re still fans of the colorful boutique hotel’s rooftop bar—a feat in and of itself. Mama Shelter’s bright space is splattered with brightly hued sofas and chairs where you can lounge while waiting for your salmon pita to arrive. Cocktails veer all over the map, from the Mediterranean to the Moscow mule. On warm nights, you can dance under the stars while DJs spin an eclectic mix of music, or take in a classic movie on their outdoor screen. There’s also a foosball table, a yoga area and sweeping views of Hollywood. Walk-ins only.

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 2 of 4

For a laidback and stylish night out in Downtown L.A., the Ace’s high-flying rooftop oasis is a surefire bet. Make your way to the buzzing, open-air deck scattered with hip Downtowners clutching plastic cups and enjoy Aperol spritzes alongside market-driven bar bites you won’t want to share. Perfect for an after-work schmooze or a reunion with old friends, Upstairs has two bars to order a drink from (be warned: weekends bring the requisite long lines). There’s even a fireplace for those who arrive early enough to snag such a prime seating area. Walk-ins only.

Advertising
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Culver City
  • price 2 of 4

The crown jewel of Culver City’s long-awaited food hall, Bar Bohemien is probably the most low-key rooftop bar in the city. This can partially be attributed to its small size, but for those who find their way up the small food hall’s winding stairs, this intimate, mostly outdoor watering hole provides everyday good vibes and even better cocktails. With a bush-lined patio that’s beautiful at sunset, it’s the perfect spot to meet an online date or a group of old friends. Plus, with unique distillers like locally made Amass Botanicals and non-alcoholic Seedlip, Bar Bohemien’s cocktail menu is full of pleasant surprises. Try the Compton Cowboy, the house version of ranch water, save for one unique ingredient: tangy, refreshing watermelon shrub. Walk-ins only.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Venice
  • price 2 of 4

Beachside rooftops are in surprisingly short supply on the Westside, making Hotel Erwin’s rooftop lounge an in-demand spot—and yes, that includes for Venice tech bros, the boardwalk tourist crowd and anyone else west of Lincoln Boulevard in search of #views. Even if you’re staying at the hotel, be sure to make a reservation; there’s nothing like a multi-hued sunset over the Pacific with a cocktail in hand to get Angelenos buzzing. Getting chilly? Evening guests can wrap themselves in one of the bar’s cozy blankets, along with a spiked cocoa or hot toddy. If you don’t like your drinks sweet, stick to local craft brews to pair with munchies like gourmet sliders and street tacos. Reservations and walk-ins.

Advertising
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • West Hollywood
  • price 3 of 4

There’s a party happening at the intersection of La Cienega and Melrose—and while everyone is invited, not everyone may feel like they fit in with the try-hard, young-or-wish-they-were-still-young crowd. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for E.P. & L.P. in your rooftop bar lineup, however; the venue feels far more accessible at happy hour, the views are always amazing and L.P.’s central location makes it a great halfway point for meetups with friends. For similar vibes a bit to the east, head to new sibling Grandmasters Recorders in Hollywood, though you’ll have an in-your-face view of the AIDS Health Foundation’s “Sick of STDs?” billboard. Walk-ins only.

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Hollywood
  • price 3 of 4

Named after a Mojave wildflower, Desert 5 Spot is a Tinseltown simulacrum of a roadside country saloon, complete with blinking pseudo-broken neon sign, that happens to be Hollywood’s least douchey new rooftop bar. Unlike sibling Bar Lis around the corner (the polar opposite in every way), the bar draws a casually dressed, youngish crowd full of folks happy to unironically don a cowboy hat. The bar’s kitschy aura and weekday-only happy hour (6–8pm) with $9 cocktails contributes to Desert 5’s appeal as a casual rooftop destination, but the still-quite-flashy aesthetic and breathtaking views make the bar are just as enticing for out-of-towners and outings where you want to impress. Walk-ins only.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 3 of 4

While technically more of a second-floor restaurant than a rooftop bar, that’s still not enough of a reason to keep this building-sized slice of Mexico City off this list. Head past all the palms, yuccas and cacti to the covered bar area of this gorgeous, indoor-outdoor space in the Arts District, or opt for their stunning open-air bar at the center of the action. On hand are plenty of delicious, snackable bar bites, including tacos and sopas, plus a wonderfully ginger-y penicillin and Cha Cha Chá’s ultra-popular strawberry milk punch. Our go-to? A few sips of paradise from the cachaça, rhum and mandarin Jarritos-based painkiller. Bar seating walk-ins only, restaurant accepts reservations.

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • Santa Monica

The upscale Mediterranean food might be mediocre, but the Goop-on-steroids aesthetic and breezy, fairly pricey cocktails keep this impeccably designed rooftop oasis top of mind whenever we’re drinking on the Westside. Located a few blocks from the Pacific, Calabra’s lounge seating and hidden poolside alcoves are the perfect place to impress folks coming in from out of town. The views from this seventh-floor hotel lounge don’t include the Santa Monica Pier, however, but the extremely chic elements of Calabra itself, fashionably dressed clientele included, provide more than enough eye candy to make up for it. Reservations strongly recommended.

Advertising
  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Santa Monica
  • price 2 of 4

What is this random hotel bar with so-so drinks doing on this list? Aside from the ultra-vibey restaurant Elephanté—which is practically impossible to get into without a reservation, anyway—the Hotel Shangri-La’s rooftop is the only good vantage point in Santa Monica proper where you can gaze at the Pacific Ocean with the beachside city’s iconic Ferris wheel in your visage. This is particularly key at sunset and on weekends, when Onyx typically draws a crowd, but brave the Third Street Promenade tourists for the only walk-in rooftop game in town. Walk-ins only.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Hollywood

Wraparound views of the hills, poolside DJs and bottle service ensure the party never stops at this nightlife-oriented Hollywood rooftop bar. Located atop the Dream Hotel, you’ll find both evening and afternoon events here every weekend in the summer (full calendar here), including an ultra-popular Sunday afternoon day club, featuring the kind of freewheeling crowd that’s always down for another shot. If you’re in the mood for a less-booze-fueled experience, stop in for brunch or dinner at the Grill—the Highlight Room’s black-and-white checkered dining room with the Hollywood Sign as the backdrop. Bottle service, reservations and walk-ins.

Advertising
  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • West Hollywood

This glitzy West Hollywood hotel rooftop bar offers stunning views of more than one kind of star. Like nearby Saddle Ranch on the Sunset Strip, Harriet’s is known for its magnetic ability to attract celebrities and influencers. Compared to other rooftop bars on this list, you’ll find a more club-like atmosphere here most nights of the week, plus pricey bar bites, standard cocktails and flashy bottle service. Sure, Harriet’s cocktails are a little watered down for how much they cost, but don’t the views just take your breath away? Bottle service, reservations and walk-ins.

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • West Hollywood
  • price 3 of 4

This West Hollywood hotel hotspot isn’t a rooftop in the conventional sense (it’s situated at about ground level, but high up on a hill), but its beautiful city views and nightlife cred make it a worthwhile destination for a wild night on the town. While Skybar is one of the rare poolside bars where people really do jump in after a long night of cocktails, you’ll typically find a more relaxed crowd lounging within its cabana, which also hosts one of its bars. The all-ages clientele ranges from wide-eyed ingénues to grizzled old sugardaddy types, but no matter where you fall on the spectrum, the Mexican-style oasis of flowering walls and gorgeous nooks will win you over—especially with one of their passion fruit margaritas in hand. Our tip: Get there early, because nightly programming like DJ sets and pool parties make this one of the hottest spots to be, especially in the summer. Bottle service, reservations and walk-ins.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Downtown Financial District

Perched 73 floors above Downtown in a luxury hotel, Spire 73 claims the title of tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere. What does this mean for you? Little to no protection from the weather, so bring a jacket to this sky-high lounge or face high-altitude wind chill like no other. Spire 73 is by reservation only, with a $60 per person spending minimum, which automatically demotes it to “tourist trap” in our eyes, but if you must go, you’ll find fire pits, classic cocktails and swanky lounge seats as you peer down on the rest of us mere mortals. What you won’t see much of is the recognizable Downtown L.A. skyline—since you’re literally part of it. Reservation only.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising