By Sara Gilliam, Travel Channel
Yes, you’ll find music, food and booze. But let’s be honest — the greatest assets of these sky-high, swanky bars are their panoramic city views.
CÉ LA VI Singapore
Cé La Vi (formerly called Ku Dé Ta) is a premier rooftop party bar — emphasis on the rooftop, as it sits on the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands, an architectural landmark in Singapore. Part of the spectacular SkyPark, the bar lets guests take in one of the best unobstructed views of the city and the rooftop’s infamous infinity pool. Whether you’re watching the sun set over mini wagyu beef burgers with fontina cheese green chili mayo and smoked tomato relish, or you’re just mesmerized by the nightly laser show, Cé La Vi is a place to see and be seen.
Insider’s Tip: The price for a cocktail, such as the Lady Be Mine Grey Goose martini with lychee and rosewater, is $16, roughly the same fee the resort complex charges to board the elevator to the observation deck just below — so think of it as breaking even.
Taking over the Gansevoort Hotel’s 14th-floor penthouse in the Meatpacking District, this granddaddy of New York’s rooftop bars is still among the city’s best — with some of the most stylish parties, an amazing outdoor pool and, of course, a sick view of the NYC skyline and the Hudson River. Plunge is packed with pretty young things on the weekends, so those not looking to be part of the scene may prefer to watch the sunset from the wraparound balcony midweek.
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Insider’s Tip: Give the recently revamped, American bistro-style menu, with its fresh chopped salad, jumbo shrimp skewers and rooftop sliders, a shot; you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
ME Madrid Reina Victoria
If your first glimpse of this club atop the ME Madrid is the line to enter — at its peak length during summertime — know that it’s worth the wait. Once you board the private elevator to the penthouse terrace, you’ll be treated to unmatched views of Madrid’s skyline. Owned by Rande Gerber (also known as Cindy Crawford’s husband), this swanky rooftop consistently attracts beautiful locals and celebrities alike, thanks to guest DJ sessions, inviting daybeds and a VIP bar embedded in a stone wall.
Insider’s Tip: Like most places on our list, the Roof serves cocktails that are on the pricier side. If you’re going to have just 1, make it the black mojito.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts/Debbie Franke
For a bird’s-eye view of Busch Stadium, pass on the nosebleed seats and instead, head to this slick rooftop bar atop the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark. Panoramic views of the Gateway Arch serve as the backdrop for gourmet bites prepared by chef Rex Hale, such as house-smoked salmon chips, mini New England lobster rolls and Korean BBQ pork tacos. Save room for the sweet stuff; the desserts — especially the house-made Kit Kat bars — are among the best in the city. The 6,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor space accommodates cozy fire pits, flat-screen TVs and several bars, making Three Sixty a year-round destination.
Insider’s Tip: Cardinals fans, hold on to your ticket stub to skip the $10 cover charge after the game. And for those trying to score one of the coveted tables overlooking the field, Three Sixty opens at least 2 hours before every home game.
To see the Washington Monument in all its recently unscaffolded glory, head to this trendy bar perched atop the historic W Hotel. POV’s velvet banquettes and black wicker chairs are first-come, first-served, so we suggest arriving in plenty of time to watch the sun go down, or you may have to wait in line to board the elevator to the 11th floor. Drinks are expensive by DC standards, which makes it mostly a popular spot for tourists and special occasions (both bachelorette parties and proposals are popular here). But enjoying unobstructed views of Washington lit up at night has its price.
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Insider’s Tip: The scene is more club than cocktail bar after 10 p.m., so we suggest either springing for a table with bottle service next to the dance floor or, for a more economical option, meeting up around the corner at the Hamilton for dinner and drinks before taking in the view.
If you’re looking for one of the most glamorous bars in Hong Kong — and possibly even the world — look no farther than this penthouse bar on top of the prestigious Prince’s Building. The 360-degree views of Norman Foster’s HSBC Building and I.M. Pei’s Bank of China Tower from Sevva wraparound terrace, combined with dazzling interiors that reflect owner Bonnie Gokson’s iconic style, has made this the top spot for impressing out-of-towners. The well-coiffed crowd clamors for dishes such as baked truffled mac and cheese and signature crunch cake from the Taste Bar. Also popular is the traditional high tea, where you’ll be Instagramming 3 tiers of Ms. B’s treats — including chocolate fudge cake with marmalade and mini short rib burgers — as much as the scenery.
Insider’s Tip: The Sevva terrace is an ideal vantage point for the popular “Symphony of Lights” laser show that illuminates Hong Kong’s famous skyscrapers.
The Pena Hotel
End your day with a relaxing sundowner and panoramic views of the Alps on the heated rooftop terrace of Innsbruck’s glass architectural gem, the Penz Hotel. Order the signature Fifth Floor cocktail, a Bellini Royal made of peaches and Champagne, or ask one of the skilled bartenders to whip up something unique. A bonus for hotel guests is that they can begin the day with an extensive breakfast buffet (with more fresh fruit than you can name) served against the same beautiful backdrop.
Insider’s Tip: People who don’t like smoke should be aware that cigars are permitted inside.
Tokyo Park Hyatt
This landmark bar, situated on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, served as the backdrop of Lost in Translation. Rather than shy away from the Sofia Coppola connection, the bar embraces it, even creating the L.I.T. cocktail, made with sake, Sakura liqueur, peach schnapps and cranberry juice. Enjoy the panoramic views of Shinjuku, order from the extensive wine menu (which has more than 1,600 bottles to choose from), listen to live jazz and try to get in a New York state of mind — while in Tokyo.
Insider’s Tip: We recommend arriving before 6:30 p.m. to avoid a line and watch the sunset through the floor-to-ceiling windows. After 8 p.m., there is a cover charge of about $20 for guests not staying at the Park Hyatt.
The Hotel Raphael
Just 1 block from the Piazza Navona, atop the ivy-covered Hotel Raphael, this multilevel rooftop garden boasts sweeping views of the Eternal City in the summer. Order an omelet of artichokes, red onions and fresh mint for lunch from chef Jean-Luc Fruneau’s creative Mediterranean menu (now completely vegetarian), or watch the sun set between St. Peter’s Basilica and Castel Sant'Angelo over a dinner of fresh caciotta cheese ravioli and marjoram with cherry tomatoes and basil.
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Insider’s Tip: It’s one of the most romantic places in Rome, so don’t be surprised if you see a proposal take place while here!
Hyatt on the Bund
Spread over Levels 32 and 33 of the 5-star Hyatt on the Bund in Shanghai, China, Vue offers guests 2 floors and 2 distinct views overlooking the historic waterfront and the futuristic Pudong skyline on either side of the Huangpu River. Pull up a seat at this sophisticated lounge’s circular cocktail bar or continue up the spiral staircase to the open-air terrace, where you can lounge in a 4-poster daybed or take a dip in the marble whirlpool.
Insider’s Tip: For those who can justify a $100-plus price tag, Vue’s bottomless brunch is hard to beat: free-flowing Perrier Jouet Champagne, a Bloody Mary counter and chefs preparing dishes that include everything from made-to-order eggs to lightly pickled steak tartare on brioche.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts
The star of the Athens skyline is the majestic Acropolis — and there’s no place where it seems to glow more brightly than from the Galaxy Restaurant & Bar atop the Hilton Athens. A hot spot for locals and tourists, this chic open-air terrace is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or a romantic dinner. We suggest starting with one of the restaurant’s inventive (read: not just Greek) salads or sesame-crusted seared tuna with caviar, pickled pearl onions, black and yellow cherries, and a truffle vinaigrette, followed by an assortment of sushi. Otherwise, try the surf ‘n’ turf — a beef tenderloin and lobster tail atop a sizzling hot stone.
Insider’s Tip: If you can’t snag a reservation, stop by for an aperitif. The bar typically opens 2 ½ hours before dinner service starts.
360 Istanbul Turkey
True to its name, this spot offers 360-degree views stretching over Istanbul and the Bosphorus Strait that are enough to take your breath away — but so are the "special occasion" prices. Forgo 360’s Turkish-fusion menu and instead, come early, score a coveted window seat and nurse your drink while snacking on stuffed olives and nuts before grabbing some street food nearby. On weekends, the restaurant turns into a club from around midnight until the wee hours, with avant-garde entertainment (including burlesque), up-and-coming DJs and well-mixed cocktails.
Insider’s Tip: The unassuming entrance in the historic Misir Apartment building is easily missed, but don’t let that deter you. Once you’ve entered the lobby, take the elevator directly to the eighth floor and follow the candlelit stairs.
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