It’s time for regular cocktail bars and beer gardens to move on over. Bronte Gossling discovers that the rising trend of rooftop bars is indicative of a new era – one that appreciates the view from a fresh establishment as much as, if not more than, the atmosphere and the drinks themselves.
Gone are the days of Sydney being off the map; as world recognition of tourist attractions such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House grew, so did Sydney’s hospitality specialties. Now a verified foodie and connoisseur hotspot, the latest stomping grounds reflect a growth in the refinement of its guests. From the North Shore to the south-east of the CBD, here are the top eight rooftop bars in Sydney.
1. Barangaroo House, Barangaroo
The latest venture from Solotel and celebrity chef Matt Moran, this is an oasis amidst the metropolis, a well-deserved break from the bustle of CBD commerce. With a stacked, charcoaled-timber exterior full of greenery, the open interior emulates a natural aura through little touches of relaxed luxury. Each of the three levels house a different restaurant, with the House Bar reserving the ground floor. Head chef Cory Campbell brings Moran’s philosophy to life in the fun-dining Bea Restaurant located on level one. Unmissable is Smoke, the marble, velvet and brass enclave of private nooks and pristine views on the top level. Don’t leave until you have tried the Honky Tonka.
2. Zephyr Sky Bar at Hyatt Regency Sydney, Sydney CBD
Set over the modern urban paradise that is Darling Harbour, guests can ascend above the city lights to enjoy made-to-order cocktails of an afternoon and night, or open-air laughter at Sunday brunch. Whatever your preference, the beauty of the panoramic water views is undeniable, even more so with a Zephyr Classic Interpretation in-hand. Top off your sky adventure with the seasonal, contemporary share plates, designed to perfectly complement one of Zephyr’s mouth-watering, globally-sourced, vermouth-inspired signature cocktails.
3. Rooftop at InterContinental Sydney Double Bay, Double Bay
An exclusive summer escape with panoramic views of Sydney Harbour, InterContinental’s Rooftop proves that it’s all happening at this five-star hotel. Equipped with a bar and lounge area that operates from October to March (and a pool, however use of the pool facilities are reserved for hotel guests only), this vibrant hub also offers cabana packages, where groups of 10 can socialise in unforgettable style; think fine-dining, seafood-style with beverage options akin with Dom Pérignon, Moët Ice, and various other crisp summer wines.
4. Coogee Pavilion, Coogee
If you spend multiple millions of dollars on a venue, you want to provide a multi-million dollar-worthy experience; at least, that’s the philosophy that Merivale has obviously adopted, if the dapper sophistication of “The Pav” is anything to go by. With the ground level being a family-friendly dream, complete with a games arena, it’s hard to believe that the adult-only rooftop is part of the same site. Housing four indoor and outdoor bars, an ultra-impressive wrap-around balcony and a Mediterranean-style menu designed by Jordan Toft, this caters to a range of occasions, made better by the touch of nature in the form of overflowing greenery and unrivalled views of the Coogee shoreline.
5. The Light Brigade, Woollahra
Founded more than 120 years ago, this pub is a four-level masterpiece for guests with all types of eclectic wants. Bite into a pub classic and enjoy a live sports game on the big screens at the ground level. One level up is Subida, a pintxos and tapas bar that provides a modern spin on Spanish cuisine, and is best experienced with the eight-course Chef’s Selection. For a more intimate bar experience, ascend to level two for Brigade Lounge’s 1920’s Art Deco vibe. Despite all the fanfare below, it’s unsurprising that level three is the belle of the ball. Sitting 83 metres above sea level, Brigade Rooftop boasts a picturesque urban outlook, made all the more photo-worthy by the leafy surrounds. Day or night, this venue is the go-to for a diverse dining experience.
6. Henry Deane at Hotel Palisade, The Rocks
Referred to as the crown jewel of Hotel Palisade, this two-floor contemporary cocktail lounge provides breathtaking views of Sydney from every angle across each floor. The team has a walk-ins-only policy on Fridays and Saturdays (unless you are a large group), so we recommend getting there as early as possible. Savour the sweet flavours of the specialty peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake with salted pretzels as you watch the sun set from Sydney Harbour. A must-see? The New Years Eve fireworks from the rooftop level.
7. Ivy Pool Club, Sydney CBD
Inspired by the Italian coastline with 1960’s American design elements, Merivale’s oxymoronic laid-back party house is ideal for a Sunday session. Dip your toes in the cool, blue-hued water and casually sip a specially-crafted cocktail before making your way to your private cabana for some sophisticated poolside lounging. Guests experience an ever-changing explosion of a plenitude of flavours as the cocktail menu changes with the seasons, but it’s the staple homey fulfilment of a tantalising wood-fired pizza by maestro Vincenzo Biondini that keeps them coming back.
8. Manly Greenhouse, Manly
Newly opened, Manly Greenhouse is located in the previously unused Shore Club Hotel. With a design conceptualised by architecture and interior design powerhouse, Luchetti Krelle, and day-to-day management to be run by the same owners as Sails on Lavender Bay, this hub houses 400 guests across its impressive three levels. While the street level bar has a pizza oven, coffee counter and is open for all-day dining, and the middle level hosts a charcoal grill-focused restaurant, the main drawcard is the rooftop level. Patrons can expect a lush, calm oasis with a hanging greenery that hosts a plethora of ferns and flowers, booth seating and end-to-end glass skylights, plus, of course, panoramic ocean views.
9. Little Albion, Surry Hills
Nestled in the heart of Surry Hills in Sydney’s CBD is Little Albion is a boutique hotel where every room is unique and dogs are allowed!. The hotel’s rooftop is a garden oasis with views looking out to the city and plenty of sunshine. The hotel’s “honour bar” allows guests to choose from their selection of top-shelf beverages and gourmet nibbles and watch the city come alive at night.