Rooftop bars seem like a thing of the summer, but once the weather starts to turn, you can still keep the feeling alive year-round. From open-air terraces to penthouse nightclubs, these sky-high spots are set in some of the best locales around the globe, and serve up just as good a cocktail, too.
Juvia is everything you’d expect from a rooftop restaurant in South Beach. Set on the penthouse level of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed parking garage overlooking Lincoln Road, the spot is equal parts industrial and chic, an urban oasis with views of Miami Beach’s Art Deco buildings accessed by private elevator. Take a seat at the communal high top set just in front of the living wall, an installation melding thousands of plant species, and watch the buzzy scene unfold, as women clad in sky-high heels and mini dresses sashay in. Of course, dress code here is “Miami chic,” which means flip-flops are definitely out.
New York City
Both tourists and locals working in Midtown Manhattan have fallen head-over-heals for the newish Refinery Hotel in the fashion district, set in a 1912 building that once held a hat factory. From the minute you step in the industrial-themed lobby you’ll see why. The décor plays on the boutique hotel’s previous life in the millinery business with vintage furniture and antique bronze accents. The pièce de résistance, however, is the Refinery Rooftop, showing off views of the skyline and Empire State Building. With indoor and outdoor seating making it a year-round favorite, nothing beats the terrace in summer, with its laid-back couches and swinging benches feeling as if you’ve escaped the city for a friend’s home in the countryside, except with a fantastic selection of biochemistry-influenced handcrafted cocktails.
New York City
Over in the Meatpacking District, The Standard High Line’s rooftop nightclub, Le Bain, is buzzing every night of the week. Guest DJs from around the globe spin in the penthouse club with views overlooking Hudson and the Whitney museum from its High Line park perch. The Standard has a reputation for pushing the limits—this one in particular is known for peep shows coming from the guestrooms and a “sex bathroom”—and Le Bain is no exception, playing on a pool-party theme with a plunge pool in the middle of the dance floor during summer.
Stepping into Ian Schrager’s 10 Karaköy in Istanbul, you’d never think the building was once home to a hospital for over 350 years before transforming into a hotel in 1875, lovingly nicknamed “Fishy Inn,” which locals still use to this day. Come nightfall, the terrace floor transforms into a nightclub à la Studio 54, set in a glass atrium with a retractable roof that opens up during summer. While it’s worth coming to ON10 to take in the perfect panoramic shot over the old city, the fashionable crowd of mostly locals seems more focused on the cocktail scene that the stunning view unfolding in front of them.
Hotel bars at chains are really hit or miss, but The Griffin Bar at JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul is an unexpected surprise. Perched over one of the historical Eight Gates of Seoul, the 617-year-old East Gate (or Heunginjimun), the 11th floor Griffin Bar is tucked away speakeasy-style, with a rooftop lounge leading to an outdoor terrace overlooking the glowing city. Even when the weather starts cooling off, the luxe cocktail bar is still the place to see-and-be-seen, with a well-dressed crowd cozying up in oversized armchairs sipping on handcrafted cocktails that are pricy, but worth the thousands of Korean won they cost, like the signature Highland Sour, a blend of whisky, fresh lemon juice, orange marmalade and egg white.
At.mosphere in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa may be one of the highest restaurants in the world, but sky lounge Neos just across from the Dubai Fountain is more where you’ll find a cool, local crowd gathering for cocktails on the weekend. The Art Deco-inspired lounge gracing the 63rd floor of The Address Downtown has that over-the-top look that’s typical of most Dubai nightclubs—walls plated in gold and lights shine like a series of stars from the ceiling overhead—but the focal point without a doubt is the panoramic window showing off views of downtown, where you can watch the fountain dancing in choreographed motion in front of the Burj Khalifa. The cocktail menu is also one of the draws, starting with “early evening” libations and continuing with “after midnight” and “late night” selections like the flute of “Bobby Burns,” blending Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, Martino Rosso, Bénédictine and Angostura bitters. Dress code is strict and bouncers manning the private elevator leading up to Neos aren’t shy in turning down guests who aren’t up to par.
Photo: Travel Aficionado, CC-BY
Lane Nieset is Paste’s Jet-Set Bohemian columnist and a freelance writer covering all things travel from her home base in Nice, France.