The 10 Best Rooftop Bars in NYC for Summer 2015

See recent posts by Jane Reynolds

We've told you about New York's amazing rooftop bars in the past, but the bar scene in this dynamic city is always changing -- so we're updating our list. Here we bring you the summer 2015 edition of the city's top rooftop bars. From new spots in increasingly popular West SoHo, to Midtown rooftops with real staying power, these are the 10 bars you need to visit this summer. Some of them you probably haven't even heard of yet -- like #4...

1. Bar Hugo at Hugo Hotel, West SoHo

View from the rooftop at Hugo Hotel

Opened in 2014 (and also at the top of our Best New Boutique Hotels list), Hotel Hugo is making a name for itself in the increasingly popular West SoHo neighborhood — officially dubbed “Hudson Square.”

Oyster Staffers at Bar Hugo's Happy Hour!

Oyster Staffers at Bar Hugo’s Happy Hour!

Rooms, finished with polished walnut and shiny chrome fixtures, boast Hudson River views, but none are as sweeping as the one’s from Bar Hugo, the rooftop bar. While the portion of the roof that is completely outdoors is small, massive glass doors and windows bring tons of natural light into the chic space. It opens daily at 5 p.m., and a weekday happy hour offers discounted house wines and half-price specialty cocktails.

2. Pod 39 Rooftop at Pod 39, Midtown East

An unassuming building in an unassuming location, Pod 39 — home to some of the city’s smallest, and therefore most reasonably priced, hotel rooms — keeps its amazing rooftop bar a bit of a secret. Only open for summer, the space features landmarked brick architecture, nice city views, and a buzzing scene come happy hour. And while the trendy Salvation Taco, a collaboration between renowned chef April Bloomfield and restaurateur Ken Friedman, sits on the ground floor, visitors to the rooftop can still order up Salvation Margaritas and chips and guacamole. 

3. Spyglass at the Archer Hotel, Midtown West

Open for just a year now, Spyglass sits on the 22nd floor of the boutique Archer Hotel, a short walk from Midtown’s Bryant Park. While Empire State Building views are nothing to sneeze at, we’re particularly drawn to the innovative cocktail and bar snacks menu here. For food, Spyglass serves delicious (and expensive) bites such as lobster steamed buns, tuna sashimi, and chorizo tacos — all of which pair nicely with flirty cocktails like the You Look Smashing and Honey Badger.

4. Z Roof at Z Hotel, Long Island City

Long Island City may not be NYC’s most popular neighborhood, but it’s becoming increasingly so — and it doesn’t hurt that its location makes for great views of Manhattan. Z Roof at Z Hotel takes full advantage of this; 360-degree views allow cocktail-sippers to take in the Empire State Building, United Nations, Chrysler Building, and Queensboro Bridge. Last call isn’t until 4 a.m. on the weekends, and Z Roof generally stays open through October.

5. Le Bain at The Standard High Line, Meatpacking District

The Standard High Line may have opened back in 2009 (which, by New York standards, makes it old), but its rooftop bar, Le Bain, as well as its several other bars and restaurants, has maintained its cool factor — thanks, in large part, to a discerning doorman. With indoor and outdoor space, Le Bain is open year-round, but summer months bring a dance floor plunge pool (yep) and a food truck to the al fresco area. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, Le Bain stays open till the wee hours for the remainder of the week and see its fair share of celebs.

6. Plunge at Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC, Meatpacking District

Just a few blocks away from The Standard, Gansevoort’s Plunge rooftop bar has also been able to stand the test of time. Encompassing the pool (which is only available to hotel guests), this bar features great city and Hudson views — and a rowdy scene come happy hour. The signature cocktail menu is largely composed of your standard fruity drinks, but bar eats, like cheddar cheese tater tots, and sweet treats are nice extras. They’ll cost you, though; an ice cream sandwich comes with a $14 price tag. 

7. Refinery Rooftop at The Refinery Hotel, Midtown West

Also on our best new boutiques list, Midtown West’s Refinery Hotel stands out among other luxury hotels in the area for its chic rooms, cool history (it was formerly a hat factory), and happening rooftop bar with Empire State Building views. With both indoor and outdoor space (indoors feels nice and airy with high ceilings and family-style tall tables), the Refinery Rooftop is popular among the corporate crowd post-work, although it opens every day at noon for those who’d like lunch with their cocktails and views.

8. Top of the Strand at The Strand, Midtown West

On the hotel’s 21st floor, Top of the Strand features a retractable glass roof, so guests and visitors can enjoy the views year-round. We particularly love it in the summer months, though, when the roof is pulled back and the bar hosts various events with DJs and performers. Speciality cocktails will set you back $15, but at least light bites, such as fancy bar nuts and parmesan tots, are reasonably priced. Only the cheese board and charcuterie plate are available late-night, though.

9. Jimmy at The James New York, SoHo

In colder months, Jimmy — located on the 18th floor of The James — is a cozy cocktail lounge with a pub-like atmosphere and a roaring fireplace. But summer is when the party here really starts, especially on the weekends when visitors can hang poolside while sipping cocktails and listening to DJs. Views range from Midtown to Wall Street, and from the Hudson River to East River bridges.

10. The Rooftop at The Empire Hotel, Upper West Side

A mainstay on the rooftop bar scene, Empire Hotel’s rooftop is a popular uptown choice — particularly for those attending shows at Lincoln Center, right across the street. Open year-round, the indoor/outdoor space with a retractable roof (the outdoor space is quite large) serves classic cocktails and standard, yet refined, bar fare.

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