Bars of the highest order: Savour the moment at the world’s best roof bars

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Arrive in time for the sunset, sip spirits, sakes and cocktails (the classic Vertigo sunset cocktail, a blend of pineapple, cranberry, lime juice and Malibu comes recommended), while taking in the 360-degree panorama of the city from the elevated section of the rooftop. Or enjoy steaks and seafood at the adjacent, al fresco Vertigo restaurant as the skyline twinkles with lights. 

Naked For Satan, Melbourne, Australia 

Its Spanish-inspired dining concept makes for a great jaunt, particularly when the pintxos in question are 50c each on weekdays 12pm-4pm. Pintxos? They’re tapas-style morsels which at NFS come in 16 varieties. Fill a plate, order a vodka cocktail and tally your toothpicks for the bill.

The moniker is inspired by Leon Satanovich, a cleaner at the Moran and Cato building, in which the bar is based. The grandson of a former Russian vodka maker, he created vodka stills in the caretaker’s quarters and – as it was The Depression – Satanovich would share his creation with anyone who would help.

The combination of summer temperatures and heat generated by burners under the stills was unbearable, and Satanovich, affectionately known as Satan, often worked close to naked. Those who came to partake, used the code “let’s get naked for Satan”. 

Spire 73, Los Angeles 

Take your evening to new heights atop the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown’s 73rd floor bar.

Spire 73 is the tallest open-air bar in the western hemisphere, offering views all the way from Hollywood to the beaches. Famous for sunset selfies, the rooftop venue offers lounge cabanas, cosy fire pits, a sleek expanse of outdoor seating and is ringed by heavy-duty glass to keep the breeze to a minimum.

Reaching these heady heights requires a little effort – riding an escalator, two lifts, then there might be a queue at the top, so make a reservation, especially at weekends. But the hand-crafted cocktails, wide selection of whiskies and unrivalled views are worth it.

Heli Lounge Bar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

A helicopter landing pad by day, it converts into one of the coolest rooftop bars by night. Part of the Menara KH Building, it includes two separate levels, a nightclub on the top floor and the helipad bar on the roof above. 

To reach the bar, take the lift to the 34th floor and enter the aviation-themed club, where there are cocktails such as “the chopper” and a DJ table made from a Boeing 747 turbine engine.

Sevva, Hong Kong Make every second count in the stopover city with a cocktail at the swankiest bar on the scene. Perched at the top of the prestigious Prince’s Building, amid the gleaming towers of the finance district, this super-stylish space boasts sensational views of Sir Norman Foster’s HSBC Building and across to the harbour.

Grab a stool on the spectacular wraparound terrace, order a fruity Kama Sutra (made with rum, passionfruit, mango, lime, with a cheeky dark rum shooter on the side) and savour the moment. 

The Silo Rooftop, Cape Town, South Africa 

At the top of the tallest building on the V&A Waterfront, this roof bar and restaurant offers views of Cape Town and beyond. Enjoy a cocktail in the setting between Table Mountain and the ocean. 

Poolside lounging is complemented by treats from the tempura bar, oysters and snacks from the raw bar. The bar is for hotel guests, but if you fancy a quick drink, you can make a reservation. 

The 5th, Hard Rock Hotel, Davos, Switzerland 

This fun-filled rooftop venue has spectacular views of the Swiss Alps.

Enjoy a traditional shisha or its selection of mule cocktails. The bar offers light bites that reflect the hotel’s theme, such as Stevie Wonder’s Classic Shrimp Cocktail and Dusty Springfield’s Sweet Crepes. In the winter, the fifth floor is transformed into an ice rink for evening skating under the stars. 

Cielo Bar, Rome, Italy 

Sitting seven storeys above the Eternal City, Cielo Bar is one of Rome’s most glamorous rooftop bars. Part of Hotel de la Ville – Rocco Forte Hotels’ newest city opening – bar guests can enjoy imaginatively crafted cocktails while taking in 360-degree views from its vantage point atop the Spanish Steps.

As the light fades and candles begin to flicker, the last rays of the sun cast a golden glow over the dome of St Peter’s Basilica, Altare della Patria and Vatican City. The rooftop terrace is beautifully lined with retro red and white-striped parasols. The menu and cocktails are by celebrity chef Fulvio Pierangelini. 

The Peninsula Shanghai 

The grand Sir Elly’s Terrace provides a 270-degree evening experience with magnificent panoramas of the Huangpu River, Suzhou Creek and Pudong skyline. The largest terrace on the Bund riverfront, Sir Elly’s is a popular meeting spot for Shanghai’s movers and shakers. 

The Terrace pairs signature cocktails, chilled wines and rare whiskeys with a selection of light dishes to share as the sun sets over Shanghai, or late into the night at one of its famous alfresco parties.

Roof on the Wit, Chicago, USA 

Rise above it all at ROOF, a newly renovated year-round venue in the heart of the Windy City. Its open-aired patio has a retractable roof and features a spectacular artisan wall, complete with a kaleidoscope of twirling digital art on multiple LED screens, as well as views over State Street and the Chicago River. 

In 2019 it threw a massive Madonna party, a nod to the singer’s residency at the Chicago Theatre next door, and celebrated the much-anticipated travelling Andy Warhol Museum with creative new cocktails. Its outdoor Hangover platform is suspended 27 floors up, surrounded by glass with views over Lake Michigan. Feel free to make use of the telescopes provided.

Some venues may be affected by ongoing restrictions

The Fleur Room at Moxy Chelsea, New York 

Rising 435ft feet above the ground on Moxy Chelsea’s 35th floor, The Fleur Room is a glass-enclosed lounge with breathtaking 360-degree views of the New York skyline.

The design adds a glamorous edge to the botanical theme with rich floral fabrics, a copper-clad bar, and a giant water droplet chandelier, as well as a massive vintage disco ball that once graced the infamous LA club Vertigo. The real showstopper? 

At the touch of a button, the glass walls of the lounge retract, creating an open-air sky veranda with views that extend from the Statue of Liberty up to the Empire State Building. Enjoy with a fruity Fleur Of The Valley cocktail, a potent mix of vodka, strawberry puree, lemon juice and prosecco. 

SkyBar, Bahamas 

In an archipelago of low-lying islands, where the highest land point is just some 206 ft above sea level at The Hermitage on Cat Island, views from a high perspective are not easy to find.

New in 2019, the SkyBar at SLS Baha Mar added a new dimension to meeting for cocktails in Nassau. Located on the 20th floor, the rooftop is enhanced by lush greenery, creating a warm tropical ambience. The toughened glass walls give uninterrupted views of the coastline.

The Pear Fête and Red-Headed Mule are among the bespoke cocktails ringing the changes from the island favourites of Bahama Mama and Gully Wash. 

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