We’ll do pretty much anything to see our city from up high (as this video from the making of our rooftop cover shows), especially if it means going to rooftop bars. In fact, we’ll even go to some not-quite-as-good rooftop bars if it means we get some great aerial photos of the city. Bars like these ones…
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The two most dreaded words in New York are also the key to the city’s most scenic rooftop: Times Square. Specifically, the Times Square Hyatt, where the 54th-floor bar reigns as the highest watering hole in Manhattan. The views are as insane as the cartoon characters you'll push your way through to get there, which also may explain the insane cocktail prices: $23 for a hot buttered rum?! Get your skyline selfie and abandon ship before you go broke.
This is New York City's only rotating restaurant, which would have been awesome in, say, 1992. It's also in a Marriott (Hey, baby—what do you say after this we grab a nightcap at the Best Western?). But the view is unbeatable: a 360-degree look at our city from 48 stories.
The Penthouse at the Hotel on Rivington
Prepare to work for your roof drinking: To get to this tri-level penthouse, take an elevator to the 20th floor, head down a hallway, through a bar, up a staircase, through another bar area and up another, steeper staircase. Once you’re there, the space will likely be crowded and thick with cigarette smoke, but your payoff: a panoramic view of Manhattan just begging to be Instagrammed.
The Cloudtini, made with lychee, is the first red flag at this 11th-floor Midtown West terrace. But we do love gazing down at the iconic Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, which makes grabbing a glass of wine up here totally worth it.
PHD at the Dream Hotel
At this Vegas-style rooftop lounge, table minimums can hit $2,000 and maximums, well, let’s just point out that there are $100,000 bottles on the menu. But if you can find someone who’ll foot the bill, this Chelsea spot boasts an impressive panorama of Midtown.
VU Rooftop Bar
Yes, it’s the bar at the La Quinta, but the stunning views of the Empire State Building make up for that, not to mention a daily happy hour (which goes all day on Sundays) with $3 shots and $5 brews from 5 to 7pm.
We’re not sure which is worse: waiting in a roped-off line or being surrounded by the type of people who wait in roped-off lines. Despite the douche-tacular vibes, this 15,000-square-foot rooftop’s 360-degree panorama is something everyone should experience once. Plus, the place is huge, so you can hunker down at a table and ignore everybody.
The Terrace at YOTEL
This hotel may look cartoonish and purple, but its 7,000-square-foot rooftop space redeems it: That twinkly view of the midtown skyscrapers is a perfect reminder of why you fell in love with New York in the first place. The tourists you’re alongside? Not so much.
The creepy-sounding name sort of fits. To get here, you have to go down a dark hallway and up a janky elevator. Then comes the $4 coat check and a 20-minute wait for a gin and tonic. But that view! Snap some selfies, and then get the hell out of there.
—Written by Marissa Conrad