Nothing pairs better with a well-crafted cocktail than an astonishing view. Gazing out over a glittering city makes you slow down and savor that libation more. A sky bar also upgrades the experience: it feels more luxurious to drink a highball when you’re higher up.
Forbes Travel Guide’s editors scanned the globe in search of towering temples of tipples that are must-see spots for their innovative cocktails, elegant ambiance and, of course, dynamic views. From stratospheric lounges in Los Angeles to lofty bars in London, these are the rooftop bars and other elevated establishments with vistas worth toasting.
Flair Rooftop Restaurant & Bar, The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong
Soaring 58 stories above Shanghai, the Five-Star hotel’s Flair affords dazzling, dizzying views with the barbell-shaped Oriental Pearl Tower hovering close by. Sit outside among the stylish crowd, sip a Shanghai Pearl cocktail (made with G’Vine Floraison gin, Cocchi Rosa, egg white, berries and Cocchi Asti sparkling wine), and soak up the staggering scenery.
Bar 81, Signiel Seoul
Zip up to Lotte World Tower’s 81st floor for South Korea’s highest public bar. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook a breathtaking panorama of mountains, the Han River and skyscraper-filled Gangnam. Watch the sunset with some effervescence—the bar maintains the country’s largest Champagne selection, including prized pours like Victoire Gold Vintage 2010 and Victoire Prestige Brut. (The Seoul hotel also has a secret bar that’s even higher: Boutique Bar sits on the 107th floor, but is only open to members.)
Ozone, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
Imbibe among the clouds in the world’s highest hotel bar. While the 118th-floor terrace boasts mesmerizing Hong Kong views, the interior is almost as fetching with a honeycomb-cutout ceiling replicated on the floor and a white marble bar. Come for the DJs and Dragon’s Back cocktail (vodka, raspberry, elderflower, lime and basil-yuzu foam) or for Sunday brunch to sup on lobster paella and free-flowing Dom Pérignon.
Cé La Vi Skybar, Marina Bay Sands
Sit along the edge of Singapore’s vertiginous Marina Bay Sands at this 57th-floor open-air bar dotted with cherry-red umbrellas (top). Order the obligatory Singapore Sling and nosh on dishes like Balinese chicken satay with spicy sambal and calamansi (a Filipino citrus), and crab-stuffed bao while DJs lay down the night’s soundtrack.
Westlight, The William Vale
Head to Brooklyn for this sexy 22nd-floor bar. Libations like the Ponce de Leon (a daiquiri with banana, pineapple and angostura bitters) and chef Andrew Carmellini’s small bites like the burger with onion jam are a hit, but the wraparound terrace with downtown vistas of the Empire State Building, World Trade Center and East River will leave you in awe.
Gŏng Bar, Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London
This London bar’s cocktails overflow with creativity as they pay homage to transformative inventions. Try Over the Rainbow, a sweet tipple (Martell VS cognac, Palo Cortado sherry, mandarin, pomegranate, lemon, Braulio curd) served in a mini hot-air balloon vessel. The novel concept takes flight in Europe’s highest hotel bar.
Skybar, Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas
This elegant address is one of the few high-end properties on the Strip without gaming. Still, a nightcap here feels like a win because of Skybar’s inventive cocktail roster (which includes the hockey-inspired Golden Knight) and flavorful nibbles (such as pork belly buns), all enjoyed from a 23rd-floor position above frenetic Las Vegas Boulevard.
Spire 73, InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown
There are few L.A. bars that get you closer to the stars than this one. Aptly named for its 73rd-floor perch, Spire 73 is the highest open-air lounge in the Western Hemisphere. Come for the views but stay for the trendy treats (tableside s’mores are a must), tipples and DJ-spun tunes.
Roof, The Shanghai EDITION
With its ivy-covered trellis and cozy patio furniture, this 29th-floor terrace is an urban respite from the bustle of the Bund just a few blocks away. Stop by in the evening for cocktails paired with illuminated Pudong skyline views, or visit by day for equally stellar vistas and afternoon tea.
Sky Gallery Lounge Levita, The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, A Luxury Collection Hotel
Housed in a two-story atrium lined with waterfall-inspired glass art, this 35th-floor bar was designed to make an impression. A wall of windows stacked 30 feet tall provides a front-row seat to Tokyo’s towering skyline, but the Four-Star stay’s Instagram-worthy color explosion of an afternoon tea steals the show.
Moon Bar, Banyan Tree Bangkok
Not for the faint of heart, this alfresco bar crowns its 61-story host hotel, offering plenty of gentle breezes, but none of Bangkok’s notorious traffic noise. The lounge’s décor is simple and understated, letting those panoramic peeks speak for themselves.
Skyview Bar & Restaurant and Gold on 27, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
One of Dubai’s most iconic buildings offers two options for eye-popping, 27th-floor experiences—Gold on 27 and Skyview. The former stuns with its rich, gold-hued aesthetic while the latter impresses with light bites, strong libations and a magnificent look at the tree-shaped Palm Jumeirah.