New York City's Best Year-Round Rooftop Bars and Terraces
If you follow any New Yorkers on Instagram, you might have gathered that the Big Apple is crazy about rooftop bars. It’s not hard to see why: Blissfully removed from the noise and bustle at street level, the best urban perches supply dazzling skyline views, good drinks, and pockets of excitement, glamour, and even—believe it or not—calm in the heart of the big city.
Though summer is the season for lounging next to high-altitude pools and al fresco partying into the wee hours, a little winter chill doesn’t faze our favorite year-round rooftop bars and terraces in New York City. Each of these 10 venues has glass-enclosed bars or partially heated rooftop gardens, letting you enjoy the elevated view no matter the season.
See also: our roundup of New York's best hotel rooftop bars
For a taste of old New York at its flashy best, it’s hard to beat the rooftop bar at the Knickerbocker Hotel (6 Times Square)—a Midtown mainstay built in the beginning of the 20th century and inhabited, at one time or another, by cultural icons ranging from opera singer Enrico Caruso to Newsweek magazine. At St. Cloud, which was named after the hotel that stood here before the Knickerbocker came along, you can monitor Times Square madness from luxury “sky pods” located at the corners of the building, snack on small plates, and sniff stogies in a cigar lounge.
What to drink: a gin martini, of course—some say it was invented here
The main attraction at this fun-loving boîte (92 Ludlow St.) isn’t the view so much as the feeling you get that a Parisian sidewalk has somehow been airlifted onto a roof in Manhattan. Lampposts, park benches, leafy greenery, and spindly seating reminiscent of the French capital’s iconic art-nouveau Métro stations are gathered beneath a retractable roof that keeps the place accessible tout le temps. Dine on Hotel Chantelle’s French-Mediterranean fare while sampling specialty cocktails or selections from the wine list.
What to drink: champagne—might as well stick with the French theme
Salon de Ning
East meets West 55th Street at this 1930s Shanghai-inspired rooftop spot on the 23rd floor of the Peninsula Hotel (700 Fifth Ave.). Decorated with chic furnishings inspired by 20th-century Chinese socialite Madame Ning (for whom the place is named), the lounge has a glass-enclosed interior bar and two large terraces overlooking Fifth Avenue and Manhattan’s glittering skyscrapers. Down on the street, there's a separate entrance to Salon de Ning right next to the hotel lobby.
What to drink: the Ning Sling, made with gin, mint, lychee, and passionfruit
You may be able to trust people over 30, but you won't find them at this buzzy spot (180 Orchard St.). Expect to rub elbows instead with finance bros and trendy twentysomethings who lend the place a sense of well-heeled exuberance. But even if that’s not your crowd, you’re likely to swoon over the views from the two outdoor terraces, one facing uptown and the Hudson River, the other overlooking downtown and the East River. Sandwiched between is a clubby bar filled with old-timey knickknacks—paperweights from the ‘50s, Edison-bulb lamps, reclaimed wooden stools and tables—that the bargoers here would likely only recognize from TV. But, hey: That's part of the fun. Tip: Mr. Purple turns people away once it reaches its capacity of 300, so get here early in the evening to avoid waiting out on the sidewalk.
What to drink: pre-bottled fizzy Negroni cocktails
One thing any lit-themed hotel ought to have is a decent bar—and we think Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams, Dorothy Parker, and any number of whiskey-swilling wordsmiths would agree. Fortunately, the book-obsessed Library Hotel (299 Madison Ave.) delivers with the thoroughly charming Bookmarks Lounge on the 14th floor. Knock back a signature cocktail (options include Peyton Place Punch, Tequila Mockingbird, and a mojito-esque Hemingway) while you settle in by the fireplace in the den, mingle in the glass-enclosed bar, or look at the New York Public Library from the poetry garden on the open-air terrace.
What to drink: the Hemingway, made with rum, mint, and champagne
The McKittrick Hotel (530 W. 27th St.) in Chelsea actually isn’t a hotel at all. It’s an old factory repurposed as a performance venue for the long-running immersive production Sleep No More, a noirish adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Head to the rooftop bar in spring and summer and you’ll find a lovely garden overflowing with flowers, trellises, and enough greenery to fill the Scottish Play's dreaded Birnam Wood (in keeping with the Bard’s macabre themes, Gallow Green is named after a field in Scotland where witches were executed in the 17th century). In fall and winter, you can huddle around the fire pit or pop into an impossibly cozy seasonal lodge made to look like a secluded mountain retreat, with books, bunkbeds, pinecones, and plaids.
What to drink: the Sleep No More, made with mezcal and berry shrub and ginger beer
Williamsburg’s hipper-than-thou reputation feels well earned at this sleek establishment atop the Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Ave.): When you’re perched six stories above street level, gazing at the Manhattan skyline from across the river in Brooklyn, you can be excused for thinking you’re the coolest individual on the planet. That impression may be enhanced by the bar’s nicely balanced cocktails, many of which incorporate sparkling wine for toasting the view (you can also get snacks from Reynard on the first floor). We like sitting out on the spacious terrace, but you can also snag one of the handsome red leather booths inside.
What to drink: the Brooklyn View, made with gin, grapefruit, and bubbly
Another attractive Brooklyn option is Kimoto, located at the top of the Aloft hotel (216 Duffield St.). The design is Asian-inspired, incorporating pale woods, a rock garden, and scores of plants from jade to bonsai. Those zenlike touches can become overshadowed by lively crowds on Fridays and Saturdays, so show up during the week for a chance to sample the Asian-fusion menu and extensive craft beer selection in relative peace.
What to drink: one of more than two dozen craft beers from local brewers as well as imports from Japan, Thailand, China, and Vietnam
You might walk right past one of the best spots in the city because it's in a nondescript office building at 230 Fifth Avenue. But the view from the rooftop bar on the 21st floor is a knockout. During cooler months, a section of the wraparound terrace is heated. You can also borrow fleece robes and blankets for extra warmth. If it starts to rain or snow, head down to the snazzy Penthouse Lounge on the 20th floor (pictured) to admire the skyline from floor-to-ceiling windows.
What to drink: the house mai tai, made with a special recipe involving fruit juices and two types of rum
Manhattan is an out-and-out stunner—and the Queensboro Bridge doesn't look too shabby either—from Penthouse 808's vantage point above the Ravel Hotel (8-08 Queens Plaza South) in Long Island City, a waterfront area in Queens. The terrace is covered and climate-controlled, so you can savor the view from cushioned rattan furniture all year long. Go further into the space to station yourself along a wall of swanky button-tufted leather booths. Asian-inspired menu items on offer include colorful sushi creations and an angry lobster that arrives at your table inside a birdcage.
What to drink: fruity rum punch served in a tiki head
What to drink: fruity rum punch served in a tiki head