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New York, New York. Such a beautiful city and skyline, the question many visitors ask is – where do you go for the best views in New York?

Iconic skyscrapers with observation decks, The Top of The Rock Observation Deck at the Rockefeller Centre and the Empire State Building, are soon to be joined by One World Trade Centre’s Observation Deck (expected to open in 2015, a date is yet to be announced).

The Top of The Rock Observation Deck is a wonderful destination for visitors looking for stunning panoramas of New York. There are unobstructed views thanks to the highest floor being recessed from the building’s edge and not needing safety protection, and timed ticketing makes visiting stress-free. To the south there’s a unique view of the Empire State Building with One World Trade Centre in the distance, and to the north, there’s an impressive view over Central Park and north Manhattan.

Margaret Scott and Mary Farrell, Senior Director - Sales, Top of The Rock Observation Deck

Margaret Scott and Mary Farrell, Senior Director – Sales, Top of The Rock Observation Deck, May 2014

Be sure to see the gorgeous Swarovski crystal chandelier in the Top of The Rock’s entrance foyer, it’s tiered shape subtly mirrors the Rockefeller Centre building outline.

Since I last visited New York in 2001, many ‘summer season’ rooftop bars have opened for people to be able to enjoy the city’s views while relaxing with friends. My goal on visiting in 2014 was to visit as many rooftop bars as I could, to ensure Views On Top has a good selection for our users to explore.

With most bars only opening at 5pm and just four nights booked to stay in New York, visiting all of the places on my list and the few more I learned of whilst there was certainly a logistical challenge! Helped by a few taxi rides across town, it took endurance and determination to keep going whilst resisting the temptation for a drink or snack in each place. By 11pm on the fourth night I’d chalked up 18 rooftop and terrace bars with great views.  I’ll look forward to visiting the few I unfortunately missed next time I visit!

So, here’s a short-list of my four favourite rooftop bars for their views, ordered from north to south in Manhattan …

  • The Press Lounge on top of the Ink48 Hotel, 653 11th Avenue at West 48th Street;
    The Press Lounge at Ink48 Hotel

    The Press Lounge at Ink48 Hotel

    with a stunning azure blue reflection pool on the outdoor terrace and unobstructed views of Manhattan and the Hudson River, it’s obvious why this became recognized as one of Manhattan’s finest rooftop lounges soon after it opened in 2010

  • The Monarch Lounge on the 18th floor of the Courtyard by Marriott New York Manhattan/Herald Square hotel at 71 West 35th St; the huge rooftop deck has comfortable lounges to enjoy a fabulous close-up view of the Empire State Building. Truly lovely on a sunny afternoon and at sunset

Empire State Building from Monarch Lounge

  • the Rare View Rooftop Chelsea bar on top of the Hilton New York Fashion District hotel, tucked away at 152 West 26th St; with lovely views south to One World Trade Centre and north to the Empire State Building, this bar has a relaxed, casual atmosphere

    Rare View Chelsea

    Rare View Chelsea above Alfina Sherburne Hotel

  • Le Bain at the top of the Standard Hotel, above the High Line at 848 Washington at 13th Street; the spacious rooftop has plenty of lounge chairs and daybeds to relax and enjoy the expansive views. The level below has an inviting indoor plunge pool next to the dance floor and feels as if perched directly over the river, particularly lovely as the sun sets to the west.
Le Bain rooftop terrace

Le Bain rooftop terrace

There are fabulous views to be had from so many locations in New York, a few other places worth a detour for great views are:

  • the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walkways
  • the Mandarin Oriental Hotel lobby lounge, above Columbus Circle at the south west corner of Central Park
  • the rooftop terrace at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Views On Top has 32 destinations to explore with great views in New York… we recommend you allow longer than four days if you want to experience them all!

Margaret Scott, Founder, Views On Top