Los Angeles: Raising the bar

By Leena Tailor

See the sights and enjoy a bevvy or two at some of Los Angeles' most stylish rooftop bars.

The Standard's bar is a must on the roof bar rounds, with it's 60s-style décor and amazing views. Photo / Supplied
The Standard's bar is a must on the roof bar rounds, with it's 60s-style décor and amazing views. Photo / Supplied

If gazing out of a rain-drenched office window at darkening mid-afternoon skies is sinking you further into winter misery, summer is only a flight away in sunny Los Angeles. And with the dollar soaring to 85c against the greenback (at time of writing) the US is the most affordable it's been in more than 30 years.

LA's night spots make the most of the city's warm evenings with outdoor bars that range from minimalist cool to opulent. Whether it's a quiet sunset drink high up in the downtown LA skyline, or grooving to pounding Friday night beats overlooking Hollywood's Walk of Fame, there's a rooftop bar to suit everyone.

The Roof Garden
Peninsula Hotel Beverly Hills
9882 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

A hidden gem in Beverly Hills, the Peninsula's rooftop garden bar hosts a Thursday night cocktail hour featuring half-price drinks, a live guitarist and spectacular views.

About to mark its 20th birthday, the hotel has created the Pen 20, an anniversary cocktail made of rum, blackberries and ginger.

Hot tip: Stay overnight and chances are you will score a monogrammed pillowcase.

Drai's Hollywood
W Hollywood
6250 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

If you don't have time to get to Las Vegas, this is the closest you'll get to it. Sprawled across the rooftop of the W Hollywood hotel, the 2000sq m club drips with debauchery. The moment you step inside, the pounding beats will rock through every inch of your body as you lose yourself amid a dizzying scene of mirrors, metallic booths and stripper poles. Outside, the pool patio and cabanas buzz with scantily-clad young revellers downing shots while others sit back and enjoy the views of Downtown LA, the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Walk of Fame below.

Hot tip: Don't bother with the queue, it won't move. Try and charm the door hosts with your Kiwi accent.

Rooftop Bar
The Standard, Downtown LA
550 South Flower St, Los Angeles CA 90071

Perhaps the most talked-about rooftop bar in LA, The Standard's 60s-style decor and stellar views make it a must on the roof rounds. Sink into a poolside waterbed pod while taking in the sea of sun-kissed skyscrapers that make up Downtown LA. Or move to the red AstroTurf deck, where orange benches and yellow furniture set the scene for after-work drinks. If the super-strong cocktails aren't enough to give you a buzz, it's hard not to smile when you're surrounded by a rainbow of colour and topiary animal sculptures.

Hot tip: Arrive before 7pm to avoid the $20 cover charge on Friday and Saturday nights.

ABH
Thompson Beverly Hills
9360 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Sometimes a 90210 (ish) zip code simply isn't swanky enough. So ABH (Above Beverly Hills) steps it up with a Swarovski-encrusted rooftop pool. We kid you not. But while the blinged-up pool and bar are usually reserved for hotel guests, summer sees the return of the Sunday Pool Fest, featuring DJs, fashion shows and cocktails like the Strawberry Smash, all with 360-degree views of LA. Best of all, it's free - just RSVP online.

Private Rooftop Club
Petit Ermitage
8822 Cynthia St, West Hollywood, CA 90069

The Private Rooftop Club sits atop the charming bohemian-style Petit Ermitage hotel and features a hummingbird & butterfly sanctuary, saltwater pool and the Butterfly Bar. While the club is reserved for members and hotel guests, it's worth a night's stay just to enjoy the weekend Gypsy Brunch, rooftop movie screenings or lobster and champagne nights.

The Penthouse
Huntley Hotel
1111 Second St, Santa Monica, CA 90403

Oozing opulence, the Penthouse sits 18 floors above Santa Monica with 360-degree views of the beach and famous pier, to the shores of Malibu and the lights of Hollywood. Dining booths shielded by sheer white curtains offer a romantic setting, while the circular bar and leather couches invite those after a cocktail.

Hot tip: Don't leave the way you came. Take the glass elevator at the back of the bar for ocean views while you plummet back to earth.

High Rooftop Lounge
Hotel Erwin
1697 Pacific Avenue, Los Angeles, 90291

Perched along the eccentric Venice Beach, High's open-air rooftop is the perfect place for those looking for a more laidback scene. When the sun goes down, heat lamps and blankets are provided to keep you cosy.

Hot tip: Time your visit to catch a stunning sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

ION Rooftop Pool Bar
JW Marriott, 900 West Olympic Blvd , Los Angeles, California 90015

The fourth floor open-air bar ION, above the JW Marriot Hotel, has become a hip new hang-out for celebs including Lady Gaga, Nicole Richie and even an under-aged Justin Bieber. On Sundays a DJ and drink specials transform the roof into an outdoor dance party.

- Herald on Sunday

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