Your Guide to the Best Rooftop Bars in New York

Every summer in New York, there needs to be a new drinking trend. 2009 was indisputably the summer of the beer garden. This year, bar owners are raising the stakes, literally. If you haven’t noticed already, the hotel rooftop scene in New York City has emerged as this summer’s top trend. And why not? It’s no secret we’ve got the most breathtaking skyline this side of a Fritz Lang movie, so why not take it in while chasing down that not-so-elusive buzz? More often than not, these bars are to be found in the city’s ever-expanding crop of trendy hotels. Here’s a list of some of out favorites.

Le Bain at Standard Hotel What It’s Like: Astroturf, pink waterbeds, and lawn chairs. The notorious Boom Boom Room on the 18th floor already set the, ahem, standard as the toughest door in town, and this should be no different. To get up here, you have to enter the first level, which has a 19-person hot tub. Take the stairs (decorated street graffiti style by Japanese artist Aiko), pass a vending machine selling Quicksilver bathing suits and bikinis (specially designed for the Standard), and enter a pop art wonderland. Views: Almost 360. Prime views of downtown NYC (with a viewfinder), The Hudson and that big building King Kong likes. Signature Drink: Fraise 76 (vodka, lemon, simple syrup, strawberry, top champagne) Scene: Models, hipsters, scenesters, fashionistas, b-list celebrities, friends of Andres Balazs, friends of hot wait staff.


Press Lounge at Ink48 What It’s Like: On the corner for 11th and 48th, the new Kimpton Ink48 hotel now offers 3,000 square feet of rooftop (opened in April) where people can absorb the sunset and linger for more cocktails afterward. It’s a far trek from the clubs, so the rooftop lounge is a destination in itself. Get there early: there’s only seating for 172 (believe us, they don’t last). Views: On the 16th floor, there’s unobstructed views of the Hudson River and Times Square to the east. But the real jewel on the horizon is Hoboken’s W hotel, standing tall across the river as a monument to bland, 21st century architecture. Signature Drink: Junmai Sky (Tanqueray 10, St. Germain, Tozai Junmai sake) Scene: Jostling for lounge chairs with Hell’s Kitchen locals and celebrities, including Jude Law, Donna Karan, Elie Tahari, and Kimberly Locke (many of whom have stayed at the hotel).


Top of the Strand at Strand Hotel What It’s Like: Gen-exers are drawn to this chic boutique’s rooftop lounge designed by Lydia Marks (set designer for both Sex and the City movies) and the setting for pop reality shows like MTV’s “The City”. There’s plenty of potted green and glass roof to give it an endearing “greenhouse” effect. Views: The Empire State building is literally in your face. Three blocks away, there’s no rooftop scene as close to it as this. Signature Drink: Top of the Strand Martini (Creme de Violette, VeeV Acai spirit, Marashino liqueur, fresh lime juice) Scene: If this was the 80s, you would expect to see the diverse cast from The Breakfast Club (Ally Sheedy post-makeover).


Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel What It’s Like: The swanky Upstairs has been tweeted, blogged about, and gossiped over since it opened exclusively for private events last December. Thankfully, it recently gave in to the public two weekends ago. The staff is outfitted by The Blondes, there’s a fully retractable glass roof in the main area (with heated wooden floors, no less), a private media room, and a separate, lush terrace area complete with fireplace. Views: East River and Chrysler Building Signature Drink: Summer cocktail list to come (they will all feature organic juices) Scene: After-work crowd, no riff-raff (“dress code” lightly enforced), and Upper East Siders — but it’s got enough hype to attract curious downtowners.

Coming Soon Fashion 26 Despite the uncreative name (it’s in the Fashion District on 26th street), the rooftop at Fashion26 is destined to be a swelling scene of models (Ford models get exclusive rates at the hotel), FIT students, locals and industry folk. Not only will it have a retractable roof and views of the downtown skyline, but small, juicy burger bites will be catered by Rare, the hotel’s restaurant. It opens July 4 weekend.

Bar d’Eau at Trump Soho Opening “this summer,” this terrace on the seventh floor spa level will include a full-sized bocce ball court, blue Italian, mosaic-lined pool with cascading waterfall and cabanas. To make up for the lack of commanding views, we’re expecting the crowd to be chockfull of suit-and-tie trust-fund babies, guys that watch Gossip Girl and random appearances by The Apprentice cast.

Gansevoort Park The first “urban oasis resort” in New York City will feature a multi-level rooftop scene open to the public at night. Think over-the-top: wrap-around terraces, various event spaces, transparent floors, indoor/outdoor fireplaces, and views of the Empire State building. Expect scenesters, hipsters (thanks to the emerging NoMad area and the Ace hotel) and affluent hotel guests (who will have priority access). Opening July 19, 2010.

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