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30 of the world's best hotel bars
Standout watering holes around the globe. No card key required
Rock Bar, Ayana Resort & Spa in Bali
Guests ride a special cable car down a dramatic cliff face to get to this brilliantly engineered bar perched just 46 feet above the Indian Ocean.
Once there, the experience is dramatic.
Bartenders pour creative cocktails set to beats spun from a DJ booth carved into the stone.
The minimalistic space, designed by Yasuhiro Koichi of Japan's Design Studio SPIN, is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Bali. (Ayana Resort and Spa, Jimbaran, Bali, tel: +62 361 702222, www.ayanaresort.com/rockbarbali.)
What to drink: A martini -- on the rocks, of course.
Felix, The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong
Jaws routinely drop at the entrance of this futuristic spectacle located on the 28th floor of Hong Kong's most famous hotel.
Designed by Philippe Starck, the The Felix is sleek with white upholstery and light-up tabletops, but the view is the real showstopper.
The "galaxy of lights" between Victoria Peak and Hong Kong harbor is the stuff postcards are made of. (28/F, The Peninsula Hotel, Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, tel +852 2920 2888, www.peninsula.com.)
What to drink: Champagne. Standing on top of The Peninsula deserves a celebratory clink.
Lantern, Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore
CNNGo Singapore city editor Charlene Fang had this to say about Lantern: "It may not have a sky-high vantage view but newly opened rooftop bar Lantern has our (current) vote for the best bar in Singapore.
She continues, "Situated on the fifth floor of The Fullerton Bay Hotel, this open-air bar, designed by Andre Fu has a jaw-dropping view of the CBD and nearby Marina Bay Sands. Flanked by a gorgeous 25 meter mosaic pool and tucked-away sky-line facing whirlpools, the lantern-shape bar turns out potent concoctions which are deserving of their above-average price tag."
What to drink: The drink to try is the Red Lantern, a Don Julio Tequila concoction with watermelon, cucumber, lime and a splash of cointreau.
Vue Bar, Hyatt on the Bund, Shanghai
To put it simply, Vue Bar has one of the best views of Shanghai. Period. It is the only place where patrons can see both sides of the Bund from floor-to-ceiling windows from the top two floors of Hyatt on the Bund, that is if they can tear their eyes away from bikini-clad jacuzzi goers in the Vue jacuzzi.
Forgot your bikini? Don’t trip, “Vue Jacuzzi Wear” can be ordered off the Vue Bar drink menu. (32/F, Hyatt on the Bund, 199 Huangpu, Lu, near Wuchang Lu, Tel: +86 21 6393, Vue Bar.)
What to drink: The Vue-tinis. Vodka, mango, lemon juice and Grand Marnier.
New York Bar, Park Hyatt, Tokyo
If New York Bar looks like it came straight out of a movie, that's because it did. The rooftop venue on the 52nd floor of Park Hyatt provided an elegant backdrop in the hit indie film Lost in Translation.
Today, while visitors won’t find a sad Scarlett Johansson smoking a cigarette, they will find sexy live jazz, soft ambiance and breathtaking views of west Shinjuku. (New York Bar, Park Hyatt Tokyo, 3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan, Tel: +81 3 5322 1234, New York Grill.)
What to drink: A Suntory Yamazaki, a single malt aged 18 years. So smooth.
Rooftop bar, Rex Hotel, Saigon, Vietnam
Neon lights, pagodas, birdcages, bonsai trees, plastic flowers and giant ceramic elephants, the 24-hour garden bar atop the Rex Hotel is as kitsch as they come.
Located in lively downtown Saigon, it's the perfect spot for sipping a cocktail and listening to the constant buzz of the motorbikes below. (Rex Hotel, 1Nguyen Hue, Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Tel: +08 8293 1151, www.rexhotelvietnam.com.)
What to order: A sunset pastis.
Sky Bar, lebua at State Tower, Bangkok
For a night that feels out of this world, it only takes a trip to Sky Bar, the bar on the 63rd floor of The Dome at State Tower.
Anchored by a circular, glowing neon bar counter, the ultramodern deck offers giddying views of the Bangkok lights and river. (State Tower 1055, Silom Road, Bangrak Bangkok 10500, Thailand, Tel: +66 2624 9555, www.lebua.com.)
What to drink: A glass (or three) of vintage wine. There are vast options to choose from.
Wink, Taj President Hotel, Mumbai
Cool beats fill the scene at the music-focused Wink, a high-energy bar always filled with high-rolling execs and travelers. Designed by Tokyo-based Noriyoshi Muramatsu, the dimly lit space is an inviting fusion of modern and rustic decor.
Inhibitions run free, but so unfortunately does the cash. (90 Cuffe Parade, Mumbai, Tel: +81 (22) 6665-0808, www.tajhotels.com.)
What to drink: One of the specially created Winktinis, such as the Wasabi Martini, made with vodka, wasabi paste, sour mix.
Veranda Bar, Figueroa Hotel, Los Angeles
With dim lanterns, woven rugs, ornate pillows and bougainvillea, this poolside bar feels worlds away from downtown Los Angeles.
Located in a courtyard setting behind the Moroccan-style Figueroa Hotel, the quiet spot is a great place to get away from the chaos of Los Angeles. (939 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, California 90015, Tel: 1 (213) 627 8971, www.figueroahotel.com.)
What to drink: The electric blue “Fire and Ice,” served in a frosted martini glass.
Redwood Room, Clift Hotel, San Francisco
The Clift's swank Redwood Room, founded in 1933 (the year Prohibition ended,) is a blend of old and new: Vintage deco lights shine on Starck-designed lounge furniture and plasma TVs displaying digital art hanging on original redwood walls.
The scene is loud, grown-up and slightly pretentious, just the way patrons like it. (495 Geary Street at Taylor St., San Francisco, California 94102, Tel: 1 (415) 775 4700, www.clifthotel.com.)
What to drink: A classic martini, spruced with two blue cheese-stuffed olives.
Bemelmans Bar, Carlyle Hotel, New York City
Dark and decadent, Bemelmans competes for the city's most dapper nightspot.
No detail has been left un-fancified: White-jacket waiters, nickel-trimmed glass tables, chocolate-brown leather banquettes and a 24-karat gold leaf-covered ceiling.
But the most interesting aspect of Bemelmans is the wall art by Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of the Madeline books and the bar's namesake. (35 E. 76th St., at Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10021, Tel: 1 (212) 744-1600, www.thecarlyle.com.)
What to drink: The Old Cuban, a mojito topped with champagne.
Grotto Bar, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, Maui, Hawaii
OK, so a card key is required for this one (the bar is only open to hotel guests,) but we just had to include it in the list.
Inside a dim cave enclosed by dual waterfalls, this swim-up bar is an adult refuge in a resort oozing with pool-splashing tikes.
With underwater stools and water jets massagers, it’s hard to leave. (200 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761, Tel: 1 (808) 661 1234, www.maui.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels.)
What to drink: An ice-cold piña colada.
The Rose Bar, Delano Hotel, Miami
In glizt-infested South Beach, where bikini-clad celebs and Blackberry-toting moguls roam free, the Rose Bar at Delano Hotel is a party stop that shouldn't be missed.
With Venetian chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling drapes and marble tabletops illuminated by candles, the sexy space is the place to pretty-people-watch before spilling into the hotel's famous poolside for more pretty-people-watching or even pretty-people-petting for some. (1685 Collins Ave Miami Beach, Florida 33139, Tel: 1 (305) 672 2000, www.delano-hotel.com.)
What to drink: The popular mango martini, a blend of vodka, mango puree and a splash of pineapple juice.
Ghostbar, Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas
Sacramento Kings owner George Maloof's Palms Casino Resort Ghostbar sits at the top of the 450-feet high Palms Casino Resort.
What Maloof hasn't been able to do with the Kings, he's done with Ghost bar -- he's taken it to the top.
Even though nightspots are second only to the casinos in Sin City, the bar remains a must see with its Jetson-eqsue lighting, sleek tabletops and of course, the Ghostdeck, which offers dazzling 360-degree views of the Vegas skyline. (4321 W Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, 89103, Tel: 1 (702) 942 6832 www.n9negroup.com/#/ghostbar/main.)
What to drink: A stiff apple martini should cure any symptoms of vertigo.
Jade Bar, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, Paradise Valley, Arizona
This sleek, Zen-themed bar offers innovative cocktails and up-close views of the sandstone cliffs, while a patio fire bowl invites well-dressed martini-sippers to flirt shamelessly outside.
Sundays are reserved for Mixology 101, where experienced mixologists share how they make their concoctions at home. (5700 E. McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, Arizona 85253, Tel: 1 (480) 948 2100, www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com.)
What to drink: The grapefruit and basil martini, made with Ketel One Citron vodka, grapefruit juice, simple syrup and basil.
Sky Yard, Drake Hotel, Toronto, Canada
A place so hip that just being there cranks up the cool-scale ranking, this rooftop bar is a constantly evolving cultural showpiece.
The garden-like space, lined with eastern-inspired booths and daybeds, plays host to indie film screenings, sing-alongs, art shows, clothing sales and bands. Groovy. (1150 Queen Street W, Toronto, Tel: 1 (416) 531 5042, www.thedrakehotel.ca.)
What to drink or eat: The menu changes constantly -- the theme can be "Tacos + Tequila" one week, and "Tiki Bar" the next. Ask for the latest specials.
Icebar, Icehotel, Copenhagen
A novelty, no doubt, but Icebar is still a marvelous place to, well, chill out.
Everything, and we mean everything, is made of ice, from the furniture to the cocktail glasses to the gleaming art.
Check out the raven in a cage, the full scale Harley Davidson and the boxes filled with miniature treasures -- all made of frozen H20. (Hotel Twentyseven, Løngangstræde 27, Copenhagen, Tel: +45 7027 5627, www.icebarcph.com.)
What to drink: A vodka shot warms the body and soul.
O2 Lounge, Ritz Carlton, Moscow
Encased in a geometric glass dome, this airy rooftop spot is perfect for Bubble Boy or the wandering guest.
The strategic merging of steel, wenge wood and beige leather looks fresh, and the views are exhilarating.
From the balcony, see panoramic shots of the famous St Basil’s Cathedral, Kremlin, the Spasskaya tower and the Red Square. (3 Tverskaya Street, Moscow, Russia 125009, Tel: +7 495 225 8888, www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Moscow.)
What to drink: Shots of oxygen. It's the O2 Lounge, remember?
Connaught Bar, The Connaught Mayfair, London
The Connaught Bar simply has it all: Ultra-stylish decor, impeccable service and some of the most killer cocktails ever shaken (not stirred.)
With textured walls in platinum, leather chairs and white marble floors, the parlor, designed by David Collins, is a work of modern luxury.
Not to mention, the bartenders are award winning.
Senior mixologist Erik Lorincz reigns as the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year 2010 and Agostino Perrone holds the title of International Bartender of the Year 2010. (Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL, United Kingdom, Tel: +44 (0)20 7499 7070, www.the-connaught.co.uk.)
What to drink: A Mulata Daisy, rum, lime juice and sugar, kicked up a notch with the tang of fennel seeds and sweet chocolate liqueur.
Alexander's Bar, Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens
One of the classiest places in town for a cocktail, Alexander's Bar has a crazy selection of premium spirits and impeccable service.
The trademark fixture of the bar, and the hotel itself, is the rare 18th century tapestry of Alexander the Great’s entrance into Gavgamila. (Constitution Square, Athens 10564, Greece, Tel: +30 210 333 0787, www.grandebretagne.gr.)
What to drink: A glass of exotic Midori liqueur over ice.
Il Palazzetto Wine Bar, Palazzetto Hotel, Rome, Italy
Located over the Spanish Steps, this terrace bar is a great place to view Rome’s dolce vita.
The classy watering hole is part of the opulent, Renaissance-era Il Palazzeto palace, home to Rome's International Wine Academy. (Vico del Bottino, 8 - 00187, Rome, Italy, Tel: _39 06 69 934 1000, www.ilpalazzettoroma.com.)
What to drink: Choose from 400 different wines.
The Bar, The Merchant Hotel, Belfast, Northern Ireland
With ornate ceilings, silk damask wall and antique Baccarat chandeliers, the Victorian grandeur is palpable in this multi-award-winning bar, home to the world's most expensive cocktail (a US$1,300 mai tai made with the extremely rare J. Wray & Nephew Jamaican rum, for those wondering.)
If that price tag isn't enough to make jaws drop, the size of the cocktail menu will. It's a 60-page book. (16 Skipper Street, Belfast, BT1 2DY, Tel: +44 (0) 28 9023 4888, www.themerchanthotel.com.)
What to drink: The signature Merchant Ivory cocktail. Apparently, they import water from Fiji to make the ice.
Blu Bar on 36, Shangri-La Hotel in The Rocks, Sydney, Australia
Set on the 36th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel in The Rocks, the New York-inspired bar offers views of Darling Harbour, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
A marble hallway entrance opens to two distinct chambers, a fluorescent blue bar and a lounge. The latter features minimalist décor, plush seating, dim lighting and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. (176 Cumberland St, Sydney, Tel: +02 9250 6013, www.shangri-la.com.)
What to drink: The Holy Amigo, a blend of Herradura tequila, Crème de Peche and peach bitters packs a punch.
The Bar, Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, Budapest
With dark wood furnishings, purple velvet couches and a dramatic glass roof, this bar is art nouveau daddy'O. Martinis and smart cocktails are served in ornately patterned glassware. (Roosevelt Tér 5-6., 1051 Budapest, Hungary, Tel: +36 (1) 268-6000, www.fourseasons.com/budapest.)
What to drink: Something from the Cosmo Corner. Choose from a black cherry, black or sparkling cosmo.
Level 8, Kilimanjaro Hotel Kempinski, Dar es Salaam
With views over the port of Dar es Salaam, Level 8 is the spot to kick back after working or running around.
Late at night, the space transforms into a cosmopolitan lounge. (Sokoine Drive, Dar es Salaam 9574, Tanzania, Tel: (0) 22 213 1111, www.kempinski.com/tr/daressalaam.)
What to drink: Well-chilled champagne.
Bar, Home Hotel, Buenos Aires
There's beauty in simplicity at Home Hotel's mellow bar, which feels more like your coolest friend's backyard.
Next to patches of tall grass and perfectly placed kumquat trees, customers sit on white pod chairs and drink cocktails mixed by pro barmen as a DJ spins cumbia beats. (Home Hotel, Honduras 5860, Tel: +54 11 4778 1008, www.homebuenosaires.com.)
What to drink: The house specialty: a brain-numbing vodka shot served 10 degrees below freezing.
Red2One, W Santiago, Santiago, Chile
Red2One is Santiago's most exclusive bar. Designed by Chilean Sergio Echeverria and New Yorker Tony Chi, the space puts a modern twist on traditional Chilean décor. Pops of red are juxtaposed against clean white sofas and natural wood floors.
The views of the snow-capped Andes are unmatched amongst its Chilean bar bretheren. (Isidora Goyenechea 3000, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile, Tel: +56+ (2) 770 0000 www.starwoodhotels.com.)
What to drink: A virgin strawberry mojito. That's what Beyonce and Jay-Z sipped on a recent stop there.
Bar dos Descasados, Santa Teresa Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The outdoor terrace at Bar dos Descasados is lined in cabanas and reclining lounge chairs and lit by North African lanterns.
Beautiful Brazilians come here to drink in style and the rest of us come here to watch beautiful Brazilians drinking in style. (Rua Almirante Alexandrino 660, Santa Teresa, 20241-260, Tel: +55 21 3380 0240, www.santa-teresa-hotel.com.)
What to drink: A refreshing caipirinha.
Bascule Bar, Cape Grace Hotel, Cape Town
While tiny in square footage, Bascule Bar on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront packs a punch, boasting the largest whisky selection in the Southern Hemisphere.
Views of the Waterfront Marina and across to nearby Table Mountain are extraordinary from the bar's bottom-conforming leather sofas. (Cape Grace Hotel, West Quay Rd., Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, Tel: +021 410 7238, www.capegrace.com)
What to drink: Any one of the 450 whiskeys. Eenie, meenie, miney, moe.
Rooftop bar, La Purificadora, Puebla, Mexico
There's nothing ordinary about a rooftop bar where travelers can watch guests swim through a glass-walled pool while knocking back cocktails.
Mexico’s top architect Ricardo Legorreta leaves no detail behind in this modern space that works in purple, Tetris-like sofas, granite walls and glass-floored balconies.
At night, for better or worse, the bar feels like a club as tourists with cash to spare attack on multiple fronts. (Callejón de la 10 Norte 802, Paseo San Francisco, Barrio el Alto, Puebla, 72000, Tel: +52 222/309-1920, www.lapurificadora.com.)
What to drink: The bar’s signature cocktail, a mixture of mandarin, pineapple and Curaçao.
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