12 NYC Rooftops That Take Drinking And Dining To New Heights

The physics of it doesn’t make sense — we’ve always heard that heat rises, and yet our favorite places to cool off during these sultry summer months are rooftops. And really, there’s nothing better than sipping a slammin’ cocktail, stories above the street while the city sweats below. Sure, they're all the better if they've got the grub to back up the elevator ride to the top, but a nice cold one and an epic view pair together perfectly in our book. From brunch spots with an altitudinal attitude to pool-equipped boîtes for above-sea-level aquatics (and alky sips), our city’s rooftops rule the scene when the sun comes out..and goes down. Here are our favorite 12 that have really… erm… raised the roof?
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While it might never cross your mind to head to Times Square for a casual summer evening, Sanctuary Hotel’s modern-tropical rooftop Haven is a bona fide respite from the hordes of tourists below. The massive space boasts private cabanas, a huge communal table for snacking on tuna tartare, and a cedar-and-glass design that lets you take in all of twinkling Midtown without the obnoxious sidewalk traffic.
Sanctuary Hotel, 132 West 47th Street (between 6th and 7th avenues); 212-234-7000.

Photo: Courtesy of Sanctuary Hotel
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The Crow’s Nest
While this rooftop may not rise above the skyline, The Crow’s Nest still soars — especially in Kip’s Bay, which is a bit of a nightlife desert. While the downstairs Water Club is a little staid and wedding reception-friendly, the Nest feels more like the breezy upper deck of your Peconic Bay schooner with its selection of oysters, burgers, and classic cocktails, plus great views of Brooklyn and Queens.
The Water Club, East River (between 29th & 32nd streets); 212-683-3333.

Photo: Courtesy of The Water Club
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Salon de Ning
Less clubby than the Meatpacking District spots, the Asian art deco-inspired Salon de Ning sits at the top of the Peninsula Hotel, with broad terrace views of Midtown. Later in Summer, Ning hosts outdoor French-influenced film screenings — including Amelie and The Artist — which you can watch between slurps of caviar and vodka.
The Peninsula Hotel, 700 Fifth Avenue (between East 54th and East 55th streets); 212-956-2888.

Photo: Courtesy of The Peninsula Hotel           
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We’ve already recommended Alma for its margaritas, but with the rooftop view it’s totally a twofer. You can spy on Manhattan and Governor’s Island from the al fresco deck during evening hours, but our favorite time is brunch: chilaquiles (and, of course, another margarita) are quite possibly the world’s best hangover helper.
Alma, 187 Columbia Street (between DeGraw and Sackett streets); 718-643-5400.

Photo: Courtesy of Alma
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Eataly’s rooftop biergarten is open year-round, but during the warm months they retract the roof to let the summer sky in. Naturally, Birreria brews its own beer and supplies dozens of imports, but carb phobics can stick to carefully curated list of Italian wines and a cheese plate sourced from Mario Batali’s culinary mecca downstairs.
Eataly, 200 Fifth Avenue (between 23rd and 24th streets); 212-229-2560.  

Photo: Courtesy of Eataly
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Le Bain
We’re sure you’re already familiar with Le Bain as one of the scenes-to-be-seen-at, but there’s good reason for that. A spot in its diamond-shaped pool is well-coveted, so it’s best to get there early. In fact, Le Bain’s rooftop opens at 2 p.m. during the summer, so why not just call out sick and head there now?
The Standard, 848 Washington Street (between West 13th and Little West 12th streets); 212-645-4646

Photo: Courtesy of The Standard  
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The NoMad Rooftop
The only annoying quirk about this al fresco annex to The NoMad restaurant (helmed by Eleven Madison Park masterminds Chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara) is that you have to buy tickets to the five-course, $125 tasting, which go on sale online every day at 11 a.m. But you’ve already honed your flash-sale ninja reflexes, and the beauty of that bronze cupola more than makes up for the mad dash for a table.
NoMad Hotel, 1170 Broadway (between West 27th and West 28th streets); 212-253-5410.

Photo: Courtesy of The NoMad Hotel
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Tavern 29      
Just a few blocks down from the NoMad Hotel is the far less expensive and far more casual Tavern 29, a three-level space in a former brownstone. The first two floors channel Industrial Age chic, serving cocktails named after 19th-century New York gangs. In stark contrast, the roof is an airy biergarten where you can knock back a pint and freshly grilled sausage.
Tavern29, 47 East 29th Street (between Park Avenue South and Madison Avenue); 212-685-4422

Photo: Courtesy of Tavern29
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Jimmy At The James Hotel
If you want to avoid the oontz-oontz hum of some of the clubbier rooftop spots, JIMMY’s the place for an intimate postprandial cocktail with an indoor view of the Soho skyline. Or head out to the poolside deck space for some lobster dumplings, David Burke sliders, and an Occupy-era take on the Millionaire Cocktail, called “The 1%.”
Jimmy at The James Hotel, 27 Grand Street (between Thompson Street and Avenue of the Americas); 212-465-2000.

Photos: Courtesy of The James Hotel
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230 Fifth
You have to expect a little cheesiness at a place that offers its patrons Jedi-esque Snuggie hoods during the winter months, or that seems to have taken decorating cues from A Night at the Roxbury, but the view of Empire State building at this 22,000-square foot space is unbeatable, and rooftop brunch is the best kind of brunch, indeed.
230 Fifth, 230 Fifth Avenue (between 26th and 27th streets); 212-725-4300.

Photo: Courtesy of 230 Fifth
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Just down the block from Le Bain is Hotel Gansevoort’s similarly pool-equipped party spot, Plunge. The crowd can get a little bridge-and-tunnel and heavily crowded on weekends, but the drinks are strong and the music doesn’t end. As with Le Bain, its best to go outside of club rush hour — an afternoon drink on the terrace gives a beautiful view of the Hudson.
Hotel Gansevoort, 18 9th Avenue (between West 13th and Little West 12th streets); 877-426-7386.

Photo: Courtesy of Gansevoort Hotel
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La Piscine
No, this isn’t what Denise Richards was rapping about. (But we’d still go there anyway.) Hôtel Americano’s rooftop boîte must be accessed via a street-side glass elevator, opening onto a sweeping view of the High Line, and giving you the opportunity to nosh on baba ganoush and grilled goodies or sip a poolside caipirinha.
Hôtel Americano, 518 West 27th Street (between 10th and 11th avenues); 212-525-0000.