Cocktails with a view: create a bucket list from the world's most spectacular rooftop bars

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Anna Melville-James
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Sometimes living the high life is just a matter of knowing where you can get a killer cocktail and an amazing view. So all hail the roof bar. Whether it’s the top of a skyscraper or a relaxed terrace in the sun, there’s just something so right about kicking back with a cool drink and some altitude.

We’ve picked ten of the best places around the world to raise the bar.

  • Bar Park, Lisbon, Portugal

    This Lisbon bar may be on the rooftop of a car park in Barrio Alto, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the city’s coolest hangouts. Sit among the fan palms and succulents on simple wooden benches and swig liqueurs with the laid back Lisbon hipsters – make yours an Amarguinha, a sweet almond spirit, or cherry firewater Ginjinha.

    Retro drinks come with timeless views across the city, river and bell towers of Santa Catarina Church - as well as burgers from a pop-up restaurant and nightly perks from outdoor cinema to DJ sets.

  • Bramante Terrace, Hotel Rafael, Rome

    Soak up the romance of Rome atop the Hotel Raphael, a two-minute stroll from the central Piazza Navona. The hotel’s small-but-perfectly-formed Bramante Terrace offers up a glorious 360-degree view of The Eternal City.

    Gaze out over a patchwork of cathedrals, palaces, Roman ruins and the Vatican; all uplit, with birds fluttering against the sunset and the sound of tolling church bells.

    If you’re not moved by the scene then you’re clearly in need of a lover or another Limoncello. Luckily you’re in the right place for both. Bellissima.

  • Rock Bar, Ayana Resort, Bali

    Watch a spectacular Bali sunset over a lychee martini at the Rock Bar, jutting out 14 metres above the hushing Indian Ocean waves on the Jimbaran Coast.

    Café del Mar who? This is where the sunsets are at, with a blaze of colour that seems to go on forever – certainly for at least three cocktails. If you can tear your eyes from the skies, play spot Bali’s sacred mountain Mount Agung on the endless horizon.

    When sun finally goes to bed, guest and resident DJs take over as the main event, spinning everything from Nu-Disco and Latin Funk to Deep House out onto the humid breeze.

  • Le Bain, The Standard, New York

    If you missed Studio 54, then Le Bain, atop The Standard Highline hotel in the Meatpacking District, is a second chance to soak up some on-trend Big Apple scene. Currently the hottest place to shake cocktails and your thang under glitterballs, this penthouse bar-nightclub with its own plunge pool serves up hot NYC DJs and cool drinks – try the Fraise 76, vodka, lemon and strawberry topped with Champagne.

    Upstairs there’s a Seventies vibe with waterbeds on the grass-covered rooftop and views over the River Hudson out to the Statue of Liberty. Come, wear Halston and be prepared to party. Wallflowers should stay at ground level.

  • The Roof, ME Hotel, Madrid

    Who says you need a skyscraper for soaring drama? In Madrid it’s not how many floors you have, but what you do with it. And up on the 7th floor of the modernist ME Hotel the vibe is part bar, part stage set – all palm trees, white sofas and lavender lighting against an ink-black sky. You’ll find balmy breezes up here – and any visiting celebrities - as the Spanish summer sizzles.

    Order a cool gin and tonic – Madrilenos are famed for their love of the spirit - but wait until at least 10pm for your first or you’ll be swirling your ice cubes on your own. Siesta then fiesta late into the night; you’re on Spanish time now.

  • Champagne Bar, Clarion Sign, Stockholm

    Less is more with Scandi minimalism at the Clarion Sign hotel’s 8th floor Champagne Bar in Stockholm. Ok, so technically it’s not quite on the roof, that’s reserved for the spa and swimming pool, but what are a few floors between friends? Especially when you get to sit in a hanging Perspex space chair and enjoy a crisp glass of Tattinger as you dangle over Sweden’s capital.

    Plus, the sun never sets on a good night out here - go in late summer and you’ll be drinking in daylight til midnight, a surreal bonus thanks to the midnight sun.

  • The Roof Top, Piscine Molitor, Paris

    These Art Deco pools in the 16 arrondissment were once a hangout for Paris’ avant garde - designer Louis Réard even introduced the world’s first bikini here in 1946. The pools have recently reopened after a 25-year hiatus – and now have a bright roof top bar/restaurant to boot.

    Join Paris’ modern beau monde and settle back in geometric chairs on the wooden deck for a glass of wine or cocktail, surrounded by pots of aromatic herbs. Look down and you’ll see the glittering turquoise lanes of the outdoor pool below. Look up and you get a great view of the Eiffel Tower thrown in with your drink.

  • Sky Bar, Bangkok

    Arguably Asia’s most spectacular rooftop spot, the Sky Bar on the 63rd floor of the Lebua hotel in Bangkok is an experience for all the senses. Sip a Hangovertini, created for The Hangover, Part II when it was filmed here, as soft warm Bangkok breezes flutter over your face and live jazz hangs in the air.

    You’re so far up that this frenetic city turns into a peaceful, glittering carpet spread out beneath you – and thanks to discreet clear walls it feels as if you can reach out from your precipice and touch the sky. Best not to try though.

  • Ozone, Ritz Carlton, Hong Kong

    Officially the world’s highest watering hole, Ozone on the 118th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is not for those with vertigo. A leather-lined lift whizzes you up into the bar, leaving your stomach somewhere on the ground floor. Inside it’s a glossy confection of neon, glass and marble with an outdoor terrace that offers panoramas of Victoria Harbour below, and skyscrapers stacked up below you like Lego towers.

    Order a Vanilla Sky – single malt whiskey, vanilla, pear and bourbon – and you’re on top of the world. The only way to better the views from here is by helicopter.

  • La Purificadora, Mexico

    The former water-purifying-plant-turned hotel of La Purificadora in Puebla, offers up a huge space filled with austere sophistication to go with your shot of Patron. Settle down on purple couches around square fire pits in the vast elevated three-storey open air lobby-bar space and look out at the Baroque twirls of this UNESCO-listed historic city.

    Keep the fussy stuff where you can see it – this bar is all about industrial chic and pared-down style, with a crowd to match. Exhibitionists, however, will love a dip in the glass-walled swimming pool between drinks.


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Anna Melville-James

Travel writer Anna Melville-James has been trotting the globe for 15 years in search of great stories. She sifts the sands for, tracking down travel news, trends and destinations for the site to inspire holidays and daydreams. When she’s at home in London, Anna enjoys watching David Attenborough documentaries and counting her extensive collection of free sewing kits and miniature toiletries.