Sydney bars with altitude
Fresh air, spectacular views, chic decor… there’s a lot to love about Sydney’s rooftop bars, which can be found in every corner of the city. If you’re seeking a cool space with altitude to clink glasses, check out this list of must-visit spaces.
Big on style
Babylon takes its cues from traditional Middle Eastern hospitality, where get-togethers centre around delicious food. Located on Level 7 of Westfield Sydney, on Pitt Street Mall in Sydney’s city centre, this ultra-modern venue boasts a network of indoor and outdoor bars, restaurants and private dining spaces. The drinks here are equally impressive — the cocktail list pays homage to the flavours and spices of the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean, and the whisky, spirit and wine options number in the hundreds.
Just a couple of minutes’ walk away, on George Street, Ivy flung open its doors in 2008, and its fabulous rooftop Pool Club forms part of a large collection of bars and eateries spread over numerous floors, including French brasserie Felix and Bar Totti’s. Orange lounge furniture, private cabanas and oversized lounges set the scene for summer fun as you sip creative cocktails and graze on Mediterranean-style fare.
Perched on Level 12 of the Hyatt Regency Sydney, in the heart of the city on Sussex Street, award-winning rooftop bar Zephyr Sky Bar has a smart nautical-inspired theme and serves up waterfront views across Darling Harbour. Seasonal share plates are perfectly suited to a drinks menu starring exclusive gins and rums, well-curated spirits and classic cocktails — the Zephyr Spritz is an invigorating place to start.
Back in 2015, a heritage-sensitive refit of the former Sydney Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board headquarters resulted in Primus Hotel Sydney, one of the city’s most luxurious stays. With its open-air design and relaxed atmosphere, Level Seven rooftop bar is the cherry on top. Take a seat by the pool, order a cocktail and you’re ready to chill.
On the waterfront
Bar Ombré delivers a slice of the Italian Riviera directly to harbourside Circular Quay. Located on the third level of the Gateway building, a landmark dining precinct with more than 30 venues, this buzzy rooftop bar serves great drinks with pizza, antipasto plates, pasta and amazing views. A rolling roster of DJs keeps the mood upbeat.
Spread across two floors at the top of Hotel Palisade in the harbourside enclave of Millers Point, Henry Deane is a contemporary cocktail lounge encased entirely in glass and providing breathtaking, up-close views of Sydney Harbour. Sip on a Pompelmo spritz as you soak up the city’s beauty, and fuel up with a mix of small plates from the Food Between a Few menu.
Located within Barangaroo House, in the Barangaroo precinct on the northwestern edge of the city centre, Smoke has been designed as a love letter to the great rooftop bars of Los Angeles and New York City, boasting contemporary interior, tasty cocktails, a well-curated wine list, premium spirits and beautiful harbour views. Adding to the atmosphere, some of Sydney’s finest DJs play from Thursday through to Sunday.
Set over three levels in Manly on the Northern Beaches, Manly Greenhouse houses a plant-filled pub, two restaurants and a rooftop bar with capacity for 100 guests. Sitting under a canopy of cascading ferns, the central bar is the focal point of the rooftop space, where the cocktails are made to order — the Seaside Sunrise (with vodka, Aperol and vermouth) and Beachside (featuring gin and elderflower liquor) perfectly match the panoramic views of Manly Beach.
A fresh outlook
For a change of scenery, head 12km west of the city centre to Skye Bar, on Level 11 of Crowne Plaza Sydney Burwood. This gem in Sydney’s Inner West gives you an amazing vantage point for watching the sun setting over the Blue Mountains or taking in the Greater Sydney skyline. The expansive cocktail list has a Mediterranean influence and complements the charcuterie and cheese boards, as well as the impressive seafood platter.
Twenty minutes’ drive further west, Nick and Nora’s sits on Level 26 of the V by Crown Group development in Parramatta, providing spectacular views across western Sydney and out to the mountains. Literature buffs will be familiar with Nick and Nora Charles, protagonists of Dashiell Hammett’s detective novel The Thin Man and the bar’s namesakes. The sophisticated cocktail and champagne menu is matched with oysters, caviar, cheeses, cured meats and canapés.