Heaven may be a little closer in New York these days, especially in Manhattan, where hotels' rooftop bars are among the best places to enjoy summer. A few are restricted to guests, such as those at the Surrey, the Trump SoHo and the Thompson LES, but there are plenty of newer roof decks that are open for those who want their own little piece of the sky.
Top of the Strand, the Strand
This 21st-floor lounge at the Strand has a retractable roof as well as cabanas and built-in banquettes with silk throw pillows. (Yes, the look is familiar. It was decorated by the set designer for the "Sex and the City" flicks.) The bar has a tasty ginger-pear drink called the Cantonese Cocktail and views of the Empire State Building.
Drink up: This is the place to be most evenings, but in particular on Thursday and Friday nights when a DJ spins tunes. 33 W. 37th St.; (212) 448-1024, http://www.thestrandnyc.com
Press Lounge, Ink48
Located in Midtown's far west side, this Kimpton hotel's rooftop has north-, east- and west-facing views, which means you have spectacular vantage points for the Hudson River and Times Square. The 16th-floor Press Lounge has a glassed-in interior, wraparound terraces decked out with wicker chairs and coffee tables and a reflecting pool that mirrors the neon lights after dark. The bar serves snacks with the cocktails, but come August, brunch service is expected.
Drink up: Come at twilight and watch the sun set over the Hudson. 653 11th Ave.; (212) 757-0088, http://www.ink48.com
Glass Bar, Hotel Indigo
This new Chelsea hotel bar is open-air but with a retractable roof that can be closed in case of inclement weather. Unlike some bars (such as Press), there are tables, and you can order panini and appetizers to go with your martini or cucumber-mint fizz. After work, the crowd is mostly professionals, but as the night progresses the atmosphere morphs with younger lounge-goers.
Drink up: Come on Monday nights, when the Michael Fredo Orchestra plays swing. Or come when you think it might rain, and watch the skyline darken moodily from within the glass enclosure. 127 W. 28th St.; (212) 973-9000, http://www.indigochelsea.com
Upstairs, the Kimberly
As much a restaurant as a roof deck, this new space is tricked out with heated floors, retractable glass walls, fairy lights, leather chairs and bronze wall panels for a look that is more staid and not as sexy. Fortunately, the panels don't block the view of the East River and the Chrysler Building, with its Art Deco crown.
Drink up: Make a dinner of the small-plates menu (which includes steak tartare, foie gras crostini, spiced duck rolls, truffled mac and cheese and baby lamb "lollipops" with ratatouille) and a couple of watermelon cocktails. 145 E. 50th St.; (212) 702-1600, http://www.upstairsnyc.com
Le Bain, the Standard
This monolithic hotel in the Meatpacking District has a cool garden, a hot nightclub (the Boom Boom Room), a trendy restaurant (the Standard Grill) and now a rooftop bar, Le Bain, with a view of the Hudson River and the High Line park, one of Manhattan's newer attractions, built on an old elevated railroad line.
Drink up: Beat the heat with light, fruit-filled cocktails, such as a raspberry Collins or pineapple punch, and an order of chilled watermelon or cherries. 848 Washington St.; (212) 645-4646, http://www.standardhotels.com/new-york-city
Rare View, Fashion 26
The mini-Manhattan "chainlet" Rare is known for its burgers, but this 22nd-floor rooftop bar is doing only cocktails, with views of the Empire State Building and the neon glow of Times Square. The space is designed to look like a tree house, with a cedar bar and high-top cedar tables, as well as plenty of greenery.
Drink up: DJs will start spinning tunes on weekends later this summer. 152 W. 26th St.; (212) 858-5888, http://www.f26nyc.com
Private Rooftop & Garden, Gramercy Park Hotel
Opened: 2007 (but even plenty of locals think it's only for guests)
Even though it's called the Private Rooftop, you can still visit this 16th-floor lounge for a drink and dinner. All you have to do is call the front desk and make a reservation, so the host on the roof has your name. But be forewarned: It's often closed for events that are, well, private. Like a swank hotel lobby on a roof, the lounge has curtains, plush leather club chairs, trellises strung with vines and a spectacular chandelier. There's also a fireplace and cashmere throws for when the night air gets crisp.
Drink up: In April, the rooftop started serving dishes from Maialino, Danny Meyer's hot new restaurant in the Gramercy Park lobby. Look for the same crab cakes and tamarind-flavored lamb chops you'd get downstairs. 2 Lexington Ave.; (212) 920-3300, http://www.gramercyparkhotel.com
Salon De Ning, the Peninsula
Opened: May 2008
After decades of being known as a fairly lackluster bar with great views, this rooftop was renovated two years ago and now has a Shanghai-influenced style that befits the glam view of Central Park up Fifth Avenue — and the $22 drinks. The 23rd-floor lounge is reached by a separate elevator.
Drink up: Join the after-work crowd for a litchi-flavored Ning Sling cocktail, or come Sundays for the DJ-fueled three-course brunch. 700 Fifth Ave.; (212) 903-3923; http://www.peninsula.com
Plunge Bar & Lounge, Gansevoort Park
Opening: Expected to open July 26
Hotel Gansevoort, the Meatpacking District fave that opened in 2004, has spawned hotels in Miami, the Turks and Caicos and, later this summer, a Park Avenue location. Until that much-awaited, three-level rooftop bar opens, the rooftop Plunge Bar at the Hotel Gansevoort remains a hot spot, with tables and Hudson River views. Start the night with mango-lime rickeys or grapefruit Cosmos and sliders or wings from its eclectic menu.
Drink up: A young party scene heats up on weekends, which can be good or bad depending on your point of view. 18 9th Ave.; (212) 206-6700, http://www.hotelgansevoort.com. The same can be expected at the hotel's Park Avenue location when it opens. 420 Park Ave. South; (212) 206-6700; http://www.gansevoortpark.com
Mad46, the Roosevelt
An exterior elevator at Madison Avenue and 46th Street takes you to the Roosevelt Hotel's 19th-floor rooftop bar. Once there, you'll find an extensive cocktail list, appetizers and small plates, umbrella-topped tables and curtained-off daybeds (for guests who reserve them for bottle service). The bar opened in 2008, but it was renovated in 2009, when an interior lounge and retractable canopies were added, so now you can get half-price drinks on rainy days. Make a reservation, and you'll get a guaranteed table and the right to jump the line, which can be long even on a Wednesday night.
Drink up: Come on a Wednesday night for the house mojitos and movies under the
stars. 45 E. 45th St.; (212) 885-6095, http://www.mad46.com