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Rooftop bar summer drinks at NoMad Hotel Downtown Los Angeles
Photograph: Stephanie BreijoThe NoMad

The best pool bars in L.A. open to the public

Sip on a cocktail sans a room reservation at these pool bars across the city that are open to the public

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano
&
Stephanie Breijo
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When any plain old rooftop bar won’t do but you’re not quite into a full-blown pool party, it’s time to hit the pool bar. In the case of some luxury hotels, you’ll have to shell out for a cabana or a day bed in order to take a dip. But, hey, treat yo’ self—or at the very least, live it up with a cocktail in hand and your toes in the water at one of these pool bars in L.A. open to the public.

Dive into a drink at these poolside bars

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Downtown

Call us biased, but we’re inclined to believe that transplant bars are always better once they hit L.A. The Freehand’s lauded Miami bar set up shop on the roof of the DTLA hotel, where only the trendiest clientele and locals are like moths to a flame at the quirky, colorful and palm-laden digs. While you can’t visit the pool unless you’re a guest, you can cool off with eclectic cocktails—with some equally eclectic and colorful garnishes—served from the thatched-roof bar as you snack on street-food-inspired dishes. (Don’t skip that guac with peanut salsa.) It’s a perfect perch to take in views of Downtown, especially around sunset with a Carrot Colada—gin, montenegro, carrot-and-coconut orgeat and a pink peppercorn cordial—in hand.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Koreatown
  • price 3 of 4

Easily one of the best spots for a little weekend reveling in K-town, the LINE Hotel is a party by the pool. Sure, there’s the grade-A, Josiah Citrin-led Openaire restaurant next to the pool deck, but just outside the greenhouse-enclosed spot you’ll find a limited bar and bites menu that wants to be the cool-kid BBQ everyone’s invited to. There are margaritas and mocktails and refreshing craft beers, not to mention a decent French wine list, and gourmet grill outs slinging hot dogs, burgers and grilled cheese.

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

The rooftop bar that started it all, the Mondrian’s Skybar still retains its dress-to-impress entry rule and Sunset Strip nightlife cred—this is one of the rare poolside bars where people really do jump in after a night of cocktails. The all-ages crowd ranges from wide-eyed ingénues to aging rugged types, but no matter where you fall in the spectrum, the Mexican-style oasis of flowering walls and gorgeous nooks win you over, especially with mojito in hand. Get there early, because nightly programming like DJ sets and weekend pool parties make this one of the hottest spots to be, hot day or not.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Hollywood

For a bar at an Old Hollywood haunt, the Roosevelt’s ’60s-glam poolside bar offers a scene that’s pure modern Hollywood: stiff and expensive drinks, acres of attitude, a few famous actors and models, a great many more wannabe actors and models, and a pack of attention-seekers who are secretly hoping to be thrown in the pool. In other words, the people-watching is fantastic. Come early (by 6pm) to avoid the lines, then settle in for everything from single drinks to cocktail pitchers or bottle service. (Like we said, it’s showy.)

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

Blending industrial chic with Moroccan sensibilities, the Ace’s rooftop bar is still—years in—one of the best spots to perch near a pool. Look good (but not like you’re trying too hard) when visiting Upstairs, where the buzzing, open-air roof deck is packed with pitchers of sangria and small plates you won’t want to share. There’s always a solid playlist, DJ set or even live performance to keep the vibes sleek and stylish, which, wouldn’t you know it, is exactly the vibe of the guests. Walk through the dark and moody bar to find the pool, which is casual enough that you can dangle your feet in as you sip mezcal-ginger cocktails.

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Downtown Financial District
  • price 3 of 4

Equal parts great views, expert bar program and Italian-décor flair, NoMad hotel’s gorgeous rooftop is a chic up-in-the-clouds affair. The pool is limited to hotel guests, but the breezy pool atmosphere permeats the rest of the patio and shaded bar. Make a reservation to guarantee seating at one of the tables, or take your chances with a walk-in and sit or lean against the marble bar. No matter where you perch, you’ll enjoy classics and sherry-based painkillers—served here in fun pineapple glassware—plus frozen cocktails by one of L.A.’s best bar teams. Hungry? There’s a quick menu of snackable items, too, including phenomenal house-made ice cream.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Beverly Hills
  • price 3 of 4

Open to Sixty Beverly Hills guests, members, visitors and cabana reservations, this ritzy rooftop lounge is a casual spot in the daytime, and a go-to for swanky bar crowds at night. The rooftop lounge offers wine, beer and “sunkissed cocktails” such as the Strawberry Smash, crafted with vodka and fresh muddled strawberries. Appetizers and light meals—including kale chips, hummus plates and seared salmon with farro—are also available, as are occasional weekend pool parties. You’ll pay a pretty penny for your libations, but it’s worth it for the view.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Hollywood

There’s always a party high above Cahuenga thanks to the Dream Hotel. The trendy hospitality chain’s first West Coast outpost throws killer, almost nightly events at its rooftop pool and bar, but if the party scene isn’t your thing, you can visit during the day for casual lunch and cocktails in the restaurant’s black-and-white checkered dining room (hotel guests only, or by reservation). Drinks lean summery and fruity, with plenty of classic options and breezy choices such as boozy lemonades and frozen Red Bull concoctions. Skipping the liquor? There’s also a handful of mocktails, and if you’re hungry, plenty of oysters, salads, sweet potato fried and other fare perfect for a day at the pool.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • South Park

Hotel Figueroa is home to some of our favorite bars in DTLA (hello, Rick’s), but when it comes to getting poolside, we’re all about Veranda. Cocktail legend Dushan Zaric curated some of the world’s best mezcal and tequila distilleries for this breezy, alfresco Mexican café, which means the spirits weave their way into cocktails with Zaric’s love of vibrant ingredients (hello, watermelon, cardamom, absinthe and five spice). Round it out with a few of chef Adrian Garcia’s killer tacos and you’ll have trouble ever wanting to leave the restaurant (as appealing as a dip in the pool may look).

  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Downtown Financial District

Even if you don’t hop in the pool, you can still plunge into the fun on one of the bright red waterbed pods scattered across the roof. Take the elevator up to the top, where mod furnishings give a slightly space-age vibe. Afternoons call for sunshine snacks like ube toast, not to mention some quality cocktail lounging—try the sweet and sour Hennessy lemonade—but beware covers on event nights, which never deter the lines that can stretch out into the parking lot. Not staying at the hotel but want to use that perfect pool? A cool $45-per-person minimum can make it happen.

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Beverly Grove
  • price 4 of 4

The ultra-modern SLS Beverly Hills is a design dream where visual stimulation abounds (yes, that dessert is a splattered piece of art all over the table). The true gem of the hotel is Altitude, a rooftop pool complete with concierge and exactly the kind of cocktails you want on a hot day: passion fruit margaritas, banana daiquiris, vodka strawberry lemonades, and cocktails inspired by Oaxacan fruit carts. Watch out for weekends, when DJ sets turn the space into a party and you’ll need to book a cabana to get in.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Beverly Grove
  • price 2 of 4

From weekend brunch—where you can tuck into pancake lasagna as you sip on mimosas—to sunset drinks and bites, you’ll find full views atop the Kimpton Hotel Wilshire. Pair those with staycation cocktails and eats at this rooftop restaurant and lounge, and you may never come down. As nights get cooler, slip into one of the banquettes that line the pool and warm up with easy sippers like a grapefruit-and-ginger daiquiri made with rum, fresh-squeezed juice and a Campari float.

Looking for a drink after you dry off?

  • Bars

Contrary to popular belief, hotel bars aren't all about $18 drinks and bougie clientele. Some of the best cocktail bars in L.A. are found in hotels, both budget-friendly and swanky. The best part? If you've had one too many, there's a bed with your name on it just steps away.

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