Updated: September 2021
What could be more elegant than sipping cocktails on a roof-top bar? Or dining in a restaurant that has the most amazing killer views?
Whether you’re perched, eagle like, above a neon-lit city; absorbing 360 degree views; soaking up panoramic views of sun-kissed coastlines; or experiencing a sun set over ancient ruins, some bars and restaurants leave a indelible image long after the ice cubes have melted and the credit card statements have arrived home.
Here are ten of my favourite roof-top bars and restaurants. For one reason or another, all of them have left a life long impression on me.
Skyline Restaurant, Queenstown, New Zealand
No trip to Queenstown could ever be complete without taking the heart-pounding 730 metres Gondola ride to the Skyline Complex.
Work up a healthy appetite as your metabolism works over time as you thunder around death-defying bends on the 800m track in a specially designed Luge.
The food isn’t amongst the greatest I’ve ever had. But the views over-looking Lake Wakatipu, steeped in Maori legend, and Queenstown’s Remarkables Mountain range make up for it. These post-card views corner ensure that it remains a firm favourite in our family.
Ambrai Restaurant, Udaipur
Think of India and you probably imagine noise, hustle and bustle. Udaipur in West Rajasthan is one of its jewels. I have been fortunate enough to visit many times.
The terrace boasts a very surprisingly relaxed setting and views over Lake Pichola. They prepare the most succulent chicken kebabs with delicate Indian spices you’ll ever taste. The Ambrai offers a peaceful haven away from Udaipur’s crowded cobble streets.
Website: Ambrai Restaurant
Dionysos Zonars, Athens
I was lucky enough to work in Athens a few years ago and still hold fond memories of this ancient city. There are of course many restaurants that offer views of the Acropolis.
But Dionysos Zonars combines unobstructed views, great ambience, first class food and an unhurried atmosphere. Why settle for anything less in the “City of Gods?” Eat traditional Greek Moussaka, washed down with some belly-warming Ouzo. Sitting and watching the sun set over the Parthenon is a truly magical experience.
It’s not hard to imagine the pride ancient Greek gods would have had as they watched over this awesome piece of history.
Website: Dionysos Zonars
QDeck, Gold Coast Australia
After 43 ear-popping seconds in the lift to reach the Observation Bar on the 77th floor, I was ready for a drink and something to eat to steady my nerves!
It’s one of the World’s tallest residential buildings. The Q1 attracts the shorts and jandals “brigade” as well as the more discerning tourist. They’re all happy to pay a premium for drinks with a view. Stepping out of the lift, you’re greeted by 360 degree views of Australia’s playground.
As the sun sets over the Hinterland and the Gold Coast’s theme parks, the network of waterways and multi-million dollar waterfront homes began to sparkle like tinsel-town.
Surfers try to steal one last “aerial” or “a 360” as the waves break on Surfers Paradise’s famous golden beaches.
Sky Tower, Auckland, New Zealand
I have included Orbit’s revolving restaurant in my top 10, as it’s in my home city, Auckland. Actually it’s more than a restaurant.
The Orbit has become a firm favourite with my daughter who has seen it as a “right of passage” to celebrate many of her Birthdays!
Ask politely, and you’ll be strategically placed to gaze out over Auckland’s aquatic playgrounds – the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf. Watch the sun set over the Waitakere Rainforest.
By the time dessert arrives, the restaurant begins its 2nd revolution. The sun disappears and Auckland transforms into a neon metropolis right before your eyes. It’s not difficult to see why reservations need to be made in advance.
Website: Sky Tower Orbit Restaurant
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Singapore will always be a special for me. I was born there but moved to the UK when I was 3 and have made several visits since. On a recent “stop-over” to India, I was curious what the new cloud-piercing structure was in Singapore’s Marina Bay water-front.
One of its “jewels in the crown” is its rooftop – a breath-taking “sky park” with panoramic views of the entire city. Visitors have no trouble finding a quiet spot to enjoy a drink on one of its many observation decks.
The hotel is a far cry from the days when I sipped (allegedly!) my Dad’s Tiger Beer on the Padang in downtown Singapore!
Website: Marina Bay Sands
Real Café, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
I’m sure that some may say that this is an odd choice to be in a top 10. But as a football aficionado who has worked in Madrid, I can vouch for the fantastic panoramic views that the Real Cafe Santiago Bernabeu boasts.
The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is home to Real Madrid football club. On match day 92,000 fans cram into the stadium, many wearing replica white jerseys. A chorus of “Ole” rings out as their “madrileno” icons demonstrate their skills. Their theatre is an immaculate bowling-green like playing surface 80 metres below.
Toast a Real Madrid victory or drown out a disappointing defeat against arch-rivals, Barcelona. The bar and restaurant is the perfect place to grab a San Miguel and tapas before and after a game.
Website: Real Cafe
Hotel do Chiado Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is nothing short of enchanting. I have many happy memories of family holidays in Portugal. It’s an area that I miss since moving to New Zealand.
One of Lisbon’s most reputable rooftop locations is at the Hotel do Chaido, overlooking the charming and historical capital city. It boasts outstanding views of Lisbon, Castelo de Sao Jorge and the River Tagus. It’s an excellent location to “people-watch” or simply enjoy Lisbon’s mild all year round climate.
Website: Hotel Do Chiado
Panoramic Bar, Paris, France (now called Windo Sky Bar)
I frequently reminisce about the amazing view of the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur from the office I shared with colleagues in Paris. I am not a great fan of Paris, per se. But I have to confess its sky-line at night must be one of the most spectacular in Europe.
Panoramic’s Bar, on Concorde La Fayette’s 34th floor, conjured up unforgettable views of the Eiffel Tower and Parisian nightlife. And what view would be complete without the unmistakeable Arc de Triumph, which is also visible from the bar?
The bar’s view will take your breath away the second you set foot inside the bar. Large floor to ceiling windows frame the city lights in all their splendour. Relax on leather bar stools and indulge in one of France’s ubiquitous offerings – champagne!
Website: Windo Paris
Shahpura Hotel, Jaipur,
Sit in Shahpura Hotel’s courtyard and imagine India in her days of Maharajas and Rajputs. Or gaze out at its views of Amber Fort and surrounding Aravali Hills. Or unwind with a bottle of Kingfisher in its bar, after a busy day exploring Jaipur.
It’s quietly hidden away in one of Jaipur’s affluent residential areas. Shahpura Hotel offers an opportunity to feast on sumptuous Mughal cuisine under candle-lights, stars and soft music. It’s beautifully maintained gardens and water fountains ensure no-one is forced to rush off after finishing their meals.
Website: Shahpura House
Do you have a personal favourite to share? I’d love to hear your feedback. Share your own experience of a roof top restaurant or bar where spectacular views were on the menu!