The 8 Best New York City Rooftop Bars

By Rachel Klein

Those visiting NYC in summer should take a cue from locals, who make an extra effort to escape the sweltering city streets. And if the goal is to find a breezy spot with a view to relax with a cocktail and a bite to eat, there’s no better bet than hitting an elevator button and getting whisked up to one of the best rooftop escapes. Tip: All of our favorites have outdoor spaces open to the public May through September, but it’s wise to call ahead in case there’s a private event being held.

Plunge at Hotel Gansevoort Meatpacking

Why it's a NYC favorite: The moment you step off the crowded elevator on the 14th floor of Gansevoort Meatpacking, the knock-your-socks-off expansive river view will inspire fast access to one of their superbly executed cocktails at the open-air bar. Jockey for a table in front to catch sunset, or sail past all the hoopla and park yourself in back at a low-key wooden table, or inside the cozy cabana. The bars names is a bit of a tease, as pool-plunging is reserved for guests only. And if you're staying in midtown and want a quick pre-dinner drink or a nightcap, head to the top of the hotel's sister property Gansevoort Park Avenue Rooftop (420 Park Ave. South), where low tables ring the terrace and there's an unobstructed view of the Empire State Building.

Gansevoort Meatpacking Review, 18 Ninth Ave., 212-206-6700, 12pm–4am daily.

Sky Room

Why it's a NYC favorite: Perched amid the tops of skyscrapers, the self-proclaimed highest roof deck in the city is the ideal Midtown West escape for a dose of the luxe life. This bi-level lounge with an energetic buzz has a wrap-around terrace with views of Times Square and the Empire State Building, a retractable roof and private cabanas. The Sky Room menu offers a selection of comfort-food standards, but those with a sweet tooth will think they're on heaven's rooftop, with designer-inspired desserts like violet religieuses by Nanette Leopore and ice cream sandwiches by Minguelina, served as a nod to the Fashion District location. Tip: A bountiful brunch on summer Sundays from 1–5 makes for the perfect end to the weekend. 330 W 40th St., 212-380-1195, Daily 4pm–4am.

PRESS Lounge at Ink48 Hotel

Why it's a NYC favorite: It's well-worth the trek over to 11th Avenue to sink into one of the mod, curvaceous wicker chairs with a cocktail at Press Lounge. The tremendous deck, on the 16th floor of Ink48 hotel, gets packed with the young professional crowd, sipping, snacking, and chatting away surrounded by a stunning section of the Midtown skyline. After a glass of wine chosen from an extensive list and a few small plates of savory treats, take a glass of bubbly over to the ledge to catch the sunset.

Ink 48 Hotel Review 653 11th Ave (at 48th St), 212-757-2224, Sun.-–Tue. 5:30pm–1am, Wed.–Sat. 5:30pm–midnight.

Above 6 at 6 Columbus

Why it's a NYC favorite: There are those huge rooftop bars that quickly become crowded ledge-to-ledge, and then there are spots such as Above 6, a quiet, exclusive-feeling hideout more like outdoor space at a lucky friend's apartment building. Thompson Hotel's 6 Columbus has made an ideal space to lower yourself onto one of the sleek, white couches accented with bright cobalt blue pillows and let the bartender shake you up a cocktail. Our top pick is the Hummingbird, made with Avinyo Cava, St. Germain, Club Soda and Yama Momo. Afterward, head downstairs for some of the city's best sushi at Blue Ribbon.

Above 6, 6 Columbus Circle, 212-204-3000, Tues.–Sat. 5pm–2am.

Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Wilson Santiago

Cantor Roof Garden at the Met Museum

Why it's a NYC favorite: New Yorkers wait all year for the moment the weather is warm enough to enjoy the Cantor Roof Garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A new installation arrives every summer, and this year the modern steel sculptures of Anthony Caro can be admired along with the view of Central Park and its surrounding skyline. Enjoy a selection of sandwiches, cocktails, wines by the glass, and even sweets available at the Cafe and Martini Bar and soak up an ultra-special Manhattan moment. Tip: Access the roof via the Fifth floor via the elevator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts galleries.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Review 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, 212-535-7710: May through late fall, weather permitting: Fri.and Sat. 10–8, Martini Bar 5:30–8, Sun. Tues.–Thurs. 10–4:30. Closed Mon.

Hudson Terrace

Why it's a NYC favorite: There's a reason this space chose to name itself after the river that hugs the west side of Manhattan. Of all the city's rooftops, there's no better place to get an unobstructed glimpse of the Hudson, thanks to its near-Twelfth Avenue location. The understated, elegant low tables dotted with tea lights and seating done up in muted, neutral tones don't compete with the incredible views seen through the wrap-around window. TIP: In summer, the venue hosts themed weekday evening events such as "Beer-tasting Tuesdays" that are a good value. 621 West 46th Street. 212.315.9400 Tues–Wed. 5pm–1am; Thurs. –Fri. 5pm–4am; Sat. 10pm–4am; closed Sun.

Mad46 Rooftop Lounge at Roosevelt Hotel

Why it's a NYC favorite: Mingle with a smartly-dressed midtown crowd on the 19th floor of the classic Manhattan Roosevelt Hotel. Monday nights are "Mad Mondays" with a wide selection of drink specials and a 10 percent discount on your tab if you happen to live or work on Madison Avenue. Mad46 serves a well-rounded, extensive list of cocktails, beer, and wine by the glass, and the menu features everything from traditional favorites such as thin crust pizza and sliders to a Asian-inspired dishes including a bento box and a soba noodle salad.

Roosevelt Hotel Review 19th floor, Madison Ave. at 46th Street, 212.885.609, Mon.–Fri 5pm–10pm, Sat. 4pm–midnight, Closed Sun.

Gramercy Terrace at Gramercy Park Hotel

Why it's a NYC favorite: The terrace atop the Gramercy Park Hotel is the next best thing to having your own apartment with private outdoors space in what's arguably Manhattan's most elegant neighborhood. Originally named the Private Roof Club, the uber-relaxing patio-like space, with views of the Chrysler Building and the Met Life Building, was renamed at the beginning of 2011. It's just as charming by day, when an afternoon could easily be spent at one of the small cafe tables with a book and cocktail made with mint from the garden, as it is in the evening, when the buzz gets kicked up a notch as tables fill with people enjoying everything from soft shell crab sliders to orange olive oil cake with vanilla mascarpone.

Gramercy Park Hotel Review 2 Lexington Ave, entrance between 22nd and 21st Sts., 212-920-3300, cocktails Thurs. –Sat. 5pm–2am and Sun.–Wed. 5 pm–midnight.