With the constant sunshine and sultry nights, drinking and dining on a rooftop is a staple activity in Los Angeles all year round. Here are our top picks.
Bar at the Ace Hotel
Set on top of the iconic Art-Deco United Artists building, the Upstairs Bar at the Ace Hotel offers the best views of the downtown skyline. The romantic Moroccan-style cocktail terrace has lots of places to perch or disappear: cushioned wicker chairs, little secret-garden nooks among flowering walls and the intimate pool deck shaded by the Ace’s soaring Gothic tower. It’s one of the sceniest rooftops in town with a cool crowd and lots of arty happenings and pop-ups (Mad Men held a final screening and swanky after-party here). Weekday nights, when it’s not too crowded, it’s a calming place to sit in the sunshine at one of the patio tables.
929 South Broadway Avenue; 213 623 3233; acehotel.com
The French hotel chain Mama Shelter has recently opened a new rooftop bistro and bar in the heart of Hollywood. With a chilled Caribbean beach-shack vibe, the space is scattered with bright sofas, chairs and beanbags, and flowing with reggae and rock music. The food is unfussy Mediterranean with Southern Californian flair: thin-crust pizza and summer salads, alongside exotic flatbreads and dips. All the rum cocktail classics — mules, mojitos and margaritas — are given a fresh twist. As you’d expect in a hip low-key hangout, there’s rooftop yoga and board games. On weekends, you can dance under the stars while DJs spin an eclectic mix of beats, or watch a classic movie on an outdoor screen — all with the neon glimmers of Hollywood Boulevard and the hills beyond.
6500 Selma Ave, Hollywood; 323 785 6600; mamashelter.com
Tucked up on the second floor, the private Rooftop Club and Butterfly Bar at Petit Ermitage in West Hollywood is full of surprises and old-world charm. Step out on the terrace of this bohemian oasis and you’re transported to another country and another time. The mosaic-tiled terrace rambles on to a saltwater pool, sunken fire pit and leafy garden dotted with kumquat and lime trees draped with twinkly lights, honeysuckle and lavender, which doubles as a butterfly and hummingbird sanctuary. The mezcal cocktails are smokey and citrusy, the Cali-bistro fare is simple and classy, and most nights there is a slew of special events such as jazz and blues soirées and screenings of classic movies poolside. Both the rooftop terrace and Butterfly bar of this whimsical, art-filled boutique is reserved exclusively for hotel guests and their friends. But if you manage to get in, you’ll want to linger.
8822 Cynthia St, West Hollywood; 310 854 1114; petitermitage.com
If you like your haunts authentic, Perch LA is among the chicest downtown LA addresses, an Art Deco gem spilling across the 13th 14th and 15th floors of the historic Pershing building. Surrounded by skyscrapers and flickering neon, the rooftop bar-bistro is fantastic at sunset: think espresso Martinis, listening to French pop and soaking up the cinematic vistas in a shimmer of golden light. The tumble of Parisian-style terraces is a trove of gilt mirrors, wrought-iron chairs and glass-topped tables, lemon trees, open-fire pits and a boudoir-themed bar that’s appealingly quaint and cosy. Parisian bistro fare of French onion soup and salade niçoise, and a well-curated menu of French wines and bespoke cocktails, along with live music and sweeping views, are a big draw.
448 S Hill Street (near West 4th Street); 213 802-1770; perchla.com
Few LA rooftop bars offer ocean views and, for that reason, Suite 700 at the Art Deco Shangri-La hotel is always buzzing. Clinging to the edge of Venice Beach, the airy beach deck provides 360-degree views all the way to the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Pier. Originally a private penthouse, the rooftop sizzles with Hollywood glamour and has been transformed into a modern alfresco lounge, lit by strings of bare Edison lights, with a glossy onyx bar, cushy couches and fire pits. With the scent of night-blooming jasmine mingling with the salty sea breezes, it’s the perfect perch for catching those spectacular Californian sunsets. On its Speakeasy Sundays, the space turns into a late-night lair where you can enjoy the finest gin slings to a backdrop of jazz revival bands, burlesque and flapper-girl shows.
1301 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica; 310 394-279; shangrila-hotel.com
A classy cocktail hideaway at the London Hotel above the constant bustle and bright lights of the Sunset Strip, the swish rooftop offers 360-degree views of the Hollywood Hills and the fabled canyons. The lounge attracts an eclectic and well-heeled clientele of creative power brokers and luminaries, and is great for quality people watching. Sidle up on the mod couches for pre-dinner sunset cocktails or hit up its ‘London Hour’, which takes place every weekday from 6.30–8.30pm, where you can sip fancy US$10 cocktails by the pool and nibble on Gordon Ramsay-created cuisine from its Boxwood restaurant.
1020 N. San Vicente Blvd; 310 358 7788; thelondonwesthollywood.com
Sixty Beverly Hills
Sweeping views and a swanky vibe, the rooftop bar and pool lounge at the Sixty Beverly Hills Hotel is like a sumptuous tree-house high above the city. Located within walking distance of Rodeo Drive, this sleek, modern spot offers a chill retreat after a dose of shopping and exploring. Sitting in a snug alcove beneath lush hanging flowers and scented vines or beside the Swarovski-lined pool while sipping craft cocktails feels like a world away from anything else. Mixologists whizz up creative concoctions, shaken, stirred and spiked with berries, blossoms and sprigs of green.
9360 Wilshire Blvd; 310 273 1400; sixtyhotels.com
To read our city guide to LA, click here.