When you book a hotel, what are you looking for? A pool? Nice bedding? A bathtub with a view? We look for a good bar—specifically a rooftop bar if we’re sojourning during the summer.
Of course, not all sky-high watering holes are created equal. Some come with a spectacular 360-degree view but an uninspiring bar program. Others make a mean Mojito but are shrouded in shade, overshadowed by surrounding structures. Still others are so packed and clubby, you have to scream your order at the bartender when you finally push your way through the pulsating crowds.
We’re here to help make your next trip an airy, sunshiney, refreshing success—at least where the hotel bar is concerned. Here, five of our favorite hotel rooftop bars.
Charleston: The Ultimate Local's Guide
Tiki Tabu at SIXTY LES, New York, NY
A collaboration between Artsy, SIXTY LES and New York-based designer Misha Kahn, the hotel’s newly reopened pop-up patio, Tiki Tabu, features oversized hand-blown lava lamps, jungle-print furniture and a tiki-centric cocktail list from The NoMad Bar veteran Ivo Diaz. There’s tried and true standbys like Mai Tais and on-tap Negronis, as well as some lesser-known tropical tipples like the Poison Dart (rum, lime juice, falernum, pineapple juice and Chartreuse) and, of course, frozen drinks like the Miami Vice (a Strawberry Daiquiri/Piña Colada hybrid). Want to talk snacks? Tiki Tabu is catered by the venerable Blue Ribbon restaurant group, so you can expect things like sake-steamed clams, short rib skewers and spicy tuna rolls.
Departure at The Nines Hotel, Portland, OR
Perched atop of The Nines Hotel in downtown Portland, Departure is indeed a departure from much of the city’s rustic, hipster-chic look—it’s futuristic lounge meets breezy patio. If you’re hungry, the pan-Asian menu includes everything from kimchi fried rice to artisanal black edamame, but we’re more concerned about those who are thirsty. Like the snack selection, the drinks menu leans Asian with a strong selection of sake and Japanese whisky, along with cocktails like the Seoul Spring (soju, bamboo syrup and lime) and Tasho Macho (Thai chili-infused vodka, Thai basil, lime and ginger beer). Sit back in your geodesic throne, sip your drink and take in views of the Rose City and its surrounding mountains.
Mama Shelter, Los Angeles, CA
Mama Shelter’s rooftop is the kind of Hollywood spot we love because it’s not quite as Hollywood as the rest. Sure, the hotel’s rooftop bar has an attached yoga studio, but there’s also a foosball table. Decked out in colorful furniture, with views from the mountains all the way to the Pacific Ocean, the bar is what we wish all of L.A. was like. This is not a place to sip a Manhattan or dram of Scotch. Opt instead for one of the signature cocktails (all named after movies—this is still Hollywood, after all) like the Fiddler on the Roof, made with rum, Ancho Reyes, grapefruit, pomegranate, molasses and lime, or the saffron-tinged sparkling After Hours.
Rocks on the Roof at Bohemian Hotel, Savannah, GA
Overlooking Savannah’s historic riverfront, Rocks on the Roof is one of those places where locals and tourists come together to take in the view and sip a cocktail or five. Warm your sandaled feet by the firepit and embrace the spirit of vacation with a tropical-inspired cocktail like Papa Pilar’s Misadventure, made with two kinds of rum, velvet falernum, house-made dram, tiki bitters, lemon juice and grapefruit juice.
The J. Parker at Hotel Lincoln, Chicago, IL
There’s no beating the panoramic eye candy at this Chicago bar. With clear views of both the city and Lake Michigan, J. Parker arguably has the best vista in the city. Plus, a retractable roof ensures you can see the sweeping scenery year-round. The cocktails range from the stirred and strong to the shaken and spritzy, and are, currently, named for David Bowie songs. Try the Ziggy Stardust, an Aperol-spiked take on a Margarita rimmed with “stardust” (spicy salt), or the Oh! You Pretty Things made with locally produced vodka, pear liqueur, orange bitters, lavender, lemon juice and soda water.
We love NOLA’s Ace Hotel because it’s just far enough away from the French Quarter that you can take a break from the action if necessary. But that doesn’t mean the property isn’t lively in its own right. The hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant, Alto, not only features excellent cocktails, it’s also designed with a sprawling pool to help you cool down while you sip. Their frozen drinks include the Eternal Summer (freshly squeezed orange juice, honeysuckle vodka, coconut) and a rotating variation of the week. Or you can try one of their tasty house cocktails like That Funky Cola, which is made with rhubarb amaro, tamarind syrup and sparkling white wine.