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Gansevoort Park Hotel (Photo: Courtesy of the Gansevoort Hotel Group)

8 NYC Hotels with the Best Rooftops

These eight NYC hotels have the views and service to make one of summer's greatest pleasures, relaxing on the rooftop -- drink in hand -- an experience you'll want to repeat

In the same way that heat rises, so too do New Yorkers as summer arrives. Rooftop season is kicking off, and hotels across the city are unveiling their soaring bars, places of relaxation both for visitors spending the night and New Yorkers just enjoying it. Whether you snag a seat with a view at the Mexican-themed rooftop at Pod 39 in Midtown — pass a Corona and guacamole, please — or hop across the water to the dreamy McCarren Hotel and Pool (formerly King & Grove) in Brooklyn, heading up is the best way to enjoy summer in the city. Read on for the eight best hotel rooftops in NYC where the views, the cocktails and the service are all primo.


Jimmy at The James

Jimmy at The James Hotel (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Jimmy at The James Hotel
Take the best of SoHo, throw it onto a breezy rooftop (18 stories up), and the result is the Jimmy. The hospitality dream team behind its success — restaurateur Larry Poston, mixologist Johnny Swet and nightlife king David Rabin — knows how to set up a party. With loads of dark wood and recessed lights, the interior design is pure Manhattan swank. Its guests (many of them gaily laughing leggy types) match the slick environs, although the cocktails certainly give the ladies a run for their money. While admiring the vistas, sample sexy drinks such as the Dirty Little Secret, made with vodka, dry vermouth, celery bitters and olive brine. The desserts are equally tasty; try the David Burke cheesecake lollipop tree, which you can’t help but eat seductively. 15 Thompson St., 212-465-2000,


Bar 54 at Hyatt

Bar 54 at Hyatt Times Square (Photo: Courtesy of Hyatt Hotels)

Bar 54 at Hyatt Times Square
The flashiest newcomer to Times Square in 2013 wasn’t another giant neon sign. It was the 54-story Hyatt Times Square, Manhattan’s largest new Hyatt in more than 30 years. The Hyatt can also claim another impressive superlative: The rooftop Bar 54 is the tallest hotel bar in New York City. Not surprisingly, all eyes are on the views, which sweep grandly from river to river. Come by at sunset and gaze out at the Hudson glinting between skyscrapers. Not surprisingly, these views come at a high price, even for a rooftop spot (all cocktails start at $23). But, this is top-shelf stuff, which mitigates the sticker shock. Open with the Miracle on 45th Street, made with Kappa pisco, grapefruit, lime, lavender syrup and Champagne. 135 W. 45th St., 646-364-1234,


Pod 39 Rooftop Lounge

Rooftop Lounge at Pod 39 (Photo: Courtesy of The Pod Hotels)

Rooftop Lounge at Pod 39
It’s not just the spendy hotels that have rooftop lounges. The budget Pod 39, which has small rooms for small prices, is crowned by a rooftop that rivals the poshest hotels in town. Come for the million-dollar view — a panoramic sweep of glittering Midtown — and stay for the rooftop fiesta. The bar celebrates Mexico, with colorful tiles, terracotta columns, fast-flowing tequila and, best of all, a bar menu courtesy of the hotel restaurant Salvation Taco, helmed by two of the biggest names in culinary New York, April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman (Spotted Pig, John Dory Oyster Bar and the Breslin). Grab a cocktail ($12), guac and chips ($11) and enjoy a penthouse view at a fraction of the cost. 145 E. 39th St., 212-865-5700,


Z Roof

Z Roof at Z Hotel NYC (Photo: Courtesy of Z Hotels)

Z Roof at Z Hotel NYC
It’s a New York truism: For the finest views of Manhattan, you need to leave the island. Z Hotel NYC in Long Island City is grand proof of this. Ascend to the breezy rooftop and take in the screensaver-worthy views of the Midtown skyline, punctuated by the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building, with the glittering 59th Street Bridge in the foreground. Another bonus: Macy’s recently announced that its annual 4th of July Fireworks show will move back to the East River in 2014, putting the festivities in Z Hotel’s watery backyard. To celebrate, the hotel has a Red, White and View package, which includes a Fourth of July picnic on the rooftop, complimentary Fourth of July-themed cocktails and more. Best of all: You will be far, far away from the sweaty crowds. 11-01 43rd Ave., Long Island City, 212-319-7000, book now


Roof at The Empire Hotel

Roof at the Empire Hotel (Photos: Courtesy of The Empire Hotel)

Level R at the Empire Hotel
Get in an “Empire State of Mind” at this nightspot that’s the definition of an urban rooftop hang. There’s the view of the Upper West Side and Lincoln Center. There’s the strikingly stylish crowd. There’s the retractable roof, which translates into year-round drinking outdoors. But above all, there’s the massive and glowing Hotel Empire sign that presides over it all, signaling to the rest of New York City: This is where you want to be. Level R also offers a menu by China Grill and craft cocktails, and it plays host to a variety of events, including live jazz. There’s a sleek pool deck with a plunge pool, but it’s open only to guests. No matter — after a couple of cocktails, you won’t want to move from your reclining position on the banquette, gazing up at the stars. 44 W. 63rd St., 212-265-7400, book now


Gansevoort Park

Rooftop at the Gansevoort Park Avenue (Photo: Courtesy of the Gansevoort Hotel Group)

Gansevoort Park Avenue
The original Gansevoort hotel was one of the first to move in to the Meatpacking District, just as the neighborhood was on the cusp of becoming an NYC nightlife center. The Gansevoort’s newest outpost, on Park Avenue, follows in its footsteps, and the rooftop has everything you need to facilitate a wild night out: a wrap-around roof deck, fireplaces, full bar and an indoor/outdoor 40-foot-long pool with a collapsible garage door that allows passage between the two. Look up, for spot-on views of the Empire State building, but also look down: The pool floor features a mosaic curvy 1940s pin-up gal. 420 Park Avenue South, 212-317-2900,


Upper Elm

Upper Elm at McCarren Hotel and Pool (Photo: Courtesy of McCarren Hotel and Pool)

Upper Elm at McCarren Hotel and Pool (formerly King & Grove)
Brooklyn has become a byword for hip. And McCarren Hotel and Pool, now part of the Chelsea Hotels group, is one of its reigning (sideburned) kings. This is the place to get a taste of Williamsburg in all its hipsterdom. It’s also a place to get a taste of really good food. At many rooftop bars, the bar menu is an afterthought. Not here. The spacious Upper Elm features bites by Michelin-starred chef Paul Liebrandt, who runs the hotel restaurant The Elm. Eat your way through fondue with Gruyère cheese and green apples, and thick churros with chocolate sauce, followed by creative cocktails like the Greek, made with gin, grapefruit and cava. Upper Elm also has an outdoor saltwater pool and lots of groovy themed parties, like reggae nights, live jazz, performance art and more. Trendy Williamsburg may lie just beyond the hotel’s front doors, but you’ll find no reason to leave. 60 N. 12th St., Brooklyn, 718-218-7500,


Bookmarks Lounge at Library Hotel

Bookmarks Lounge at the Library Hotel (Photo: Courtesy of Library Hotel)

Bookmarks Lounge at the Library Hotel
Who says books aren’t sexy? The Library Hotel, which is adorably themed around the Dewey Decimal system, has two roof-y spaces, the 14th-floor Bookmarks Lounge where flirty librarian types come to roost and the Poetry Garden, the flourishing rooftop terrace for beautifully tortured souls. And the view? The New York Public Library, which hunkers down across the street, and beyond. The hotel’s naughty nerd theme continues inside, so if you get lucky on the rooftop, you and your new paramour can take it inside, opting for, say, the Erotica Package. But, before you do, make sure to get liquored up on the literary-themed drinks, which include one of the best-named cocktails in Manhattan: Tequila Mockingbird. 299 Madison Ave., 212-983-4500,

Discover more of top places to see and things to do while in New York City with our Best of New York series.

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