I was thirteen the first time I went to New York. It was a couple of days before Christmas. I remember buildings so tall that you couldn’t see the top, even when you craned your neck back as far as it would go. I remember the lights glittering above the wide avenues. And I remember the cold. The biting, blistering cold. It was snowing and the wind was howling along the streets, turning my nose to a frosty lump on my face.
Returning ten years later for a muggy week in June, I was faced with a somewhat different experience. Instead of freezing cold, there was a sticky, overwhelming heat that turned me into a sweaty, grumpy mess (I have no idea how New Yorkers handle August).
I quickly learned that there’s only one way to cope with summer in the city and it involves a view and a cocktail.* Oh, and a lot of air-con.
Here are a couple of my favourite rooftop spots.
848 Washington at 13th Street, NY, 10014
Found on the unmissable New York mini-adventure known as the High Line, the grass-covered rooftop of the Standard Hotel is a glitzy, outlandish riot. Well-dressed clientele, flirty bar staff, delicious cocktails and a live DJ make Le Bain (its official name) worth visiting, but it’s the spectacular, near 360˚ view over the Hudson river that make it truly memorable.
230 Fifth Ave (Corner 27th), NY, 10001
230 FIFTH is the largest rooftop garden in New York – not that you’d know. The spectacular view of the Empire State Building ensures that the bar is always packed. The vibe is upmarket (ok, a bit wanky) and the drinks are relatively pricey, but it’s the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion. Or just a Friday night.
29-35 9th Ave., NY, 10014
Sadly the strict members-only rule means that you can’t just stroll into Soho House, but if you do get the chance to head up to the roof, make sure you bring your swimming stuff. We forgot ours and spent the whole afternoon gazing wistfully at the glorious chlorine-filled pool of delight. Nice drinks though.
80 Wythe Ave. at N. 11th Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11249
With a vibe that manages to be both painfully cool and remarkably laid back, the Wythe is my favourite bar on this list. The best thing about going to a rooftop bar in Brooklyn? The perfect, panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. Head there to watch the sun go down over the city.
*Warning: this option only works if you’re over 21. If you’re underage, stick to snow cones. You’ll save face, and money.