For optimum ogling of iconic city skylines, there's a special place where city meets sky: the venerated rooftop bar. Skip out on the tourist hullabaloo at designated observatories— and the frenetic hubbub of the streets below—and head instead for lofty heights and bird's-eye views at high-profile, high-rise watering holes. These 10 rooftop bars are truly "tops," offering atmosphere that's even more intoxicating than your drink, and million-dollar views for the mere price of a cocktail.
1. Bangkok, Thailand
Moon Bar at Banyan Tree Bangkok
From its 61st floor perch, this stunning helipad-cum-rooftop oasis ranks supreme for sultry sunset cocktails. A series of elevated platforms and low glass walls ensure prime 360-degree panoramas of the bustling Thai capital below. Book ahead for a table at the adjoining Vertigo restaurant, where an open-air grill turns out barbecued seafood and steaks. www.banyantree.com
The View: Landmarks like the Grand Palace, Royal Chapel, Wat Pho Temple, and winding Chao Phraya River litter the lengthy landscape.
Signature Drink: The Vertigo Sunset (Malibu with pineapple, cranberry, and lime juice)
Insider Tip: A dress code is in effect, so forgo those flip-flops and shorts.
2. Chicago, IL
The Terrace at Trump at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago
This trendy terrace lounge on the Trump hotel's 16th floor serves up quintessential Chicago cityscape, along with a slew of specialty cocktails and summer-appropriate fare (salad, seafood, sushi). L-shaped couches and large tables lure thirsty parties looking to lap up punchbowl pours. www.trumpchicagohotel.com
Star Sights: The swank space shows off Chicago icons like the Wrigley and Chicago Tribune towers, Chicago River, and Lake Michigan.
Signature Drink: Freeze Pops (try the Strawberry Lemonade, with house-made Limoncello and strawberry juice)
Insider Tip: Catch fireworks over Navy Pier on Wednesdays and Saturdays in summer.
3. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Lounge at At.Mosphere at Burj Khalifa
In a city of superlatives, gravity-defying At.Mosphere sits high atop the Burj Khalifa—the world's tallest building—and touts the planet's highest restaurant (dishing out grilled specialties). Granted, the adjacent lounge area is not technically a rooftop, but with its 122-story, 1,350-foot perch, set just two levels below the landmark tower's observation deck, you'd be hard-pressed to ascend loftier heights. www.atmosphereburjkhalifa.com
Star Sights: Glimpse the Arabian Gulf, downtown Dubai, and the tallest performing fountains on Earth.
Signature Drink: Signature Black Forest (Tanquerey 10, Crème de Mure, muddled raspberries, and blackberries)
Insider Tip: A $50 per-person minimum applies, though Wednesday nights get the gals two comped drink specials.
4. Hong Kong, China
OZONE at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
Billed as the highest bar in Asia, in the planet's highest hotel, OZONE sprawls across the 118th floor of Hong Kong's Ritz-Carlton. Signature cocktails pair well with Asian-inspired tapas; work them off to the tune of spun DJ beats on the breezy outdoor terrace. The views compete only with the super-hip dreamworld design interiors, decked out with high-tech lighting and imaginative furnishings and trimmings. www.ritzcarlton.com
Star Sights: Peek out across Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour, and look for the nightly "Symphony of Lights" spectacle.
Signature Drink: Aria 118 (orange vodka, sake, coconut rum, passion fruit, and lychee)
Insider Tip: Arrive early and dress smart—the lounge gets packed after 10pm, especially on weekends.
5. Mumbai, India
Aer at Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai
Take a break from bustling Bombay below with a sunset cocktail atop the 34th-floor Aer, where a trendy clientele, DJ spinning high-energy lounge music, and minimalist black-and-white motif meet. Stick around for a light bite with specialty pizzas, sushi, and more. www.fourseasons.com/mumbai
Star Sights: View Mumbai old and new, including towering skyscrapers, old mill areas, the Haji Ali Mosque, Mahalaxmi Racecourse, and the Arabian Sea.
Signature Drink: Afterglow (gin, cucumber, coriander, and grapes)
Insider Tip: The daily sunset happy hour highlights half-price cocktails. Smart casual attire is required and weekend evenings command a $37 cover.
6. New York City, New York
The Press Lounge at Ink 48
Ascend 16 stories for one of NYC's most magnificent vantage points: The Press Lounge's unobstructed skyline views are bound to take your breath away, night and day. Savor seasonally inspired cocktails and small plates on the mammoth wraparound terrace, sprinkled with cozy couches, leafy plants, and a decorative reflecting pool. www.thepresslounge.com
Star Sights: Absorb miles of Manhattan skyline and the Hudson River.
Signature Drink: De Telegraaf (gin, lemon, and triple sec, served over an absinthe wash)
Insider Tip: Arrive early to nab a seat (on the west side) for sunset views over the Hudson.
7. São Paulo, Brazil
Skye Bar at Hotel Unique
Topping the design-savvy Hotel Unique, the terrace of chic Skye Bar shows off São Paulo's urban sprawl in a perfectly picturesque light. Join the polished crowds to throw back caipirinhas and martinis, and stick around for DJ-spun beats after 9pm. Or, thanks to its underwater sound system, kick off the dance party early in the red-tiled lap pool. Finish up with international fusion fare on the new outdoor deck of the adjacent Skye Restaurant. www.hotelunique.com.br
Star Sights: Savor sweeping panoramas of the São Paulo skyline and Ibirapuera Park.
Signature Drink: Wasabi Mojito (Superior Ron, sugar syrup, lime juice, basil, mint, and club soda)
Insider Tip: Dips in the pool are reserved for hotel guests only.
8. Shanghai, China
VUE at Hyatt on the Bund
A sprawling multilevel bar/restaurant, guests gravitate to VUE's circular cocktail bar and loft-style lounge, where a resident DJ spins tunes nightly, and to the open-air tip-top for lounging daybeds and a marble Jacuzzi. (Forgot your swimsuit? Order one off the bar menu.) Round out drinks with a meal at VUE Restaurant just below, where tableside cooking is the hook. www.hyattonthebund.cn/en
Star Sights: Scan Shanghai's skyline for the Huangpu River, historical Bund section, and modern skyscraper-pocked Pudong district.
Signature Drink: Lycheeni Martini (vodka, Dita Lychee Liqueur, sugar syrup, lychee pure, and lemon and lychee juice)
Insider Tip: Reserve tables online (for seating before 9pm) with the handy seating charts.
SkyBar at KU DÉ TA at the Marina Bay Sands
Sure, the views from the SkyPark observation deck at Singapore's landmark Marina Bay Sands are astounding, but why stop there? Head for higher heights, where the chic KU DÉ TA dining and entertainment complex unfolds on the 57th floor. The rooftop oasis joins an alfresco Asian eatery, additional dance club/lounge, and infinity-edge pool (guest use only). www.kudeta.com.sg
Star Sights: Survey the Singapore Strait and city skyline, including the Singapore Flyer, and Gardens by the Bay.
Signature Drink: Lady Be Mine (vodka, lychees, rose water, and lychee juice)
Insider Tip: A dress code is enforced after 6pm.
10. Toronto, Canada
Rooftop Lounge at Thompson Toronto
Touting 360-degree panoramas of Toronto, the chic 16th-floor of the sleek Thompson Toronto hotel/condo tower attracts trendsetters to the city's first and only rooftop pool bar and lounge. Guests can pair inventive cocktails with a light bites menu and soak up the wow-factor views from the wraparound deck, heated infinity pool, or poolside cabanas. www.thompsonhotels.com
Star Sights: Take in Toronto’s skyline, including the iconic CN Tower, along with Lake Ontario.
Signature Drink: Barrel-Aged Margarita (tequila, Cointreau, orange bitters, agave, salt, and lime)
Insider Tip: The rooftop is for the exclusive use of hotel guests, so book a room for guaranteed access.