We're all for a late night hootenanny, but sometimes there's nothing better than bending the elbow with the sun on your back and a cool drink to keep things chill. And we're not alone. Sydney's rooftop bars account for some of the most popular, and hard won, seats in the city, so get in quick for the glory spots with the best views.
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Sydney's best rooftop bars
We don’t need to tell you how much Sydney loves a rooftop bar, and the top floor addition to the East Village Hotel (previously the Darlo Village) is an A-grade, lofty drinking perch. Sure, if cardio isn’t your friend you may even find you have to take a breather at the second floor, but that’s not going to be a problem because that’s where they added the Athletic Club, a vintage sports-themed bar that has a very toffy, “I went to Eton during the Downton Abbey years” vibe about it.
It’s only once you’re sitting on the beautiful deck of this third-floor cocktail lounge that you realise that it was the missing piece of Sydney’s bar puzzle all along. The Solotel group went and made Opera Bar a suave sister in the form of Smoke – the crowning glory of Barangaroo House. Up here, things are strictly professional. You are greeted at the entranceway, shown to a seat, started a tab and possibly given a time limit until the next booking arrives (they do not follow the finders keepers rules here).
Like Narcissus staring adoringly at his own reflection, Sydney’s a city enamoured with its own good looks, hence our obsession with rooftop bars. Happily there’s a rooftop in town where you can do just that. The open-air, top floor bar is definitely the jewel in the Light Brigade’s rejuvenated crown. The old pub underwent extensive changes since the Bayfield family took ownership a few years back, and adding the top floor bar was a power move that makes the most of the pub’s prime Oxford Street location, with views stretching from Paddington clear across to the Coathanger.
There are few views in Sydney that can rival the majesty of the harbour panorama from rooftop of the Glenmore Hotel down in the Rocks. It's always a good bet for when you have visitors from out of town and weekends get crowded, but we're just as keen on heading here on a Monday for a $12 steak and a quiet drink with mates.
Spring is getting closer with each day so we're starting to form a bit of a sunshine bucket list. At the top of that list? Drinks on the swankiest rooftop we can find. Luckily for us the CBD has a brand spankin' new alfresco oasis to add to your hit list. Until recently the bar was only available to hotel guests, but now anyone can pop in for oysters and rosé spritzers. Add in striped private cabanas, plenty of greenery and poolside DJs and you've got a serious sunset destination on your hands.
We’re of the opinion that any high-rise in Sydney that could have a cracking cocktail bar on its roof and doesn’t is a tragic waste of lofty boozing opportunities. And one that does lobster and burgers is definitely making it onto the Christmas card list. There’s just something so much better about drinking at altitude and dinner on high.
If you ever want to feel like a celebrity for an evening, the rooftop bar at the InterContinental Hotel is the place to do it. What was originally reserved as a club bar for guests has been opened up to the public after 9pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays, but you will need to book.
First things first: book. Do not try to just walk up to this place as you will in all likelihood be denied entry by the door girl because the place is at capacity. To be fair, she’s downstairs and does ensure you don’t drag yourself up seven flights of stairs only to be greeted with a packed-out balcony. So that’s a plus.
Unless you are desperately afraid of heights, we recommend heading for the fifth floor at this newly refurbed city pub. The rooftop is the crowning glory. You’ll feel like the king of the castle under the ropes of pearl bulbs with a wagyu minute steak sandwich in one hand, a Peroni in the other and a little Florence Welch on the stereo.
Once a wizened watering hole for elderly gents and gig-goers spilling over from the nearby Gaelic Club, the Strawberry Hills has been rebirthed as a hipster hideaway following a snazzy refurbishment and a late-night license that’s as rare as hen’s teeth. All the action is to be found upstairs out on the rooftop terrace that is open to the night sky.