While some of the city’s famous old-time hideaways in the sky have gone the way of the subway token – the Rainbow Room is locked up tight and Top of the Sixes is a private cigar club for big shots – you can linger over a drink with city lights twinkling at your toes in plenty of other aeries.
Four Midtown hotel rooftops are especially appealing retreats from the city streets below, and all afford views that are as intoxicating as the cocktails. Top marks for sophistication go to Salon de Ning atop the Peninsula Hotel (700 Fifth Ave at 55th St, tel: 212-956-2888). The Asian-infused decor evoking the feel of 1930s Shanghai is glamorous, and the light show of the surrounding Midtown towers even more so. It’s all about luxe livin’ and high-end cocktails when you’re lounging at The Roof (Viceroy Hotel, 120 W 57th St, tel: 212-830-8000) that you’ll be inspired to engage in some wittily urbane Noel Coward-style banter, and the 360-degree views take in the Midtown skyline, the East River, and a large swath of Queens that, all aglow once the sun sets, looks much more wondrous than it really is. Greenery and sophistication are profuse at the Top of the Strand (Strand Hotel, 33 W. 37th St, tel: 212-448-1024), and the Empire State Building is so close you’ll be tempted to reach out and touch it. Rare, on the 16th floor of the Shelburne Murray Hill (303 Lexington Ave at 37th St, tel: 212-481-8439) is also dramatically over-shadowed by the Empire State Building, while the Chrysler Building spire appears as a shiny beacon just to the north.