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10 Hottest Rooftop Scenes Around LA

By Lesley Balla
May 27, 2014

Getting a view of the Hollywood sign, mountains, Downtown skyline and beach - sometimes all at once - from a rooftop bar or restaurant is one of the great pleasures of LA. The scenes can vary: from cocktails and conversation at exclusive boutique hotel oases to dancing at pumping West Hollywood club nights. But they all have one thing in common: a fantastic backdrop. Here's where to go.

  • Photo by: Mondrian Hotel

    Herringbone, Sayulita and Skybar at Mondrian

    They’re not technically on the roof, but with the views below it sure feels like it. Depending on your mood and the time of day, any one of these rooftop venues at the West Hollywood hotel have a scene. Herringbone, the restaurant from Brian Malarkey’s restaurant group, is like a sprawling living room for full-service dining and drinks during the day and night. Sayulita is the new tequila and taco bar near the pool. Skybar is still a draw for both daytime pool fun and nighttime lounge action, but evenings are more bro-tastic with untz-y DJ music and everyone dressed to the nines.

    The View: Spectacular views of the city below, from West Hollywood to Beverly Hills, and even Downtown on a good day.

    Eat & Drink: Drinks at Skybar feature everything from Red Bull to cold-pressed juices (even one with kale!), but as long as they have vodka in them, they’ll do the trick. Get shrimp and bacon tacos and drinks from Julian Cox and Josh Goldman at Sayulita. The Butterfly Kisses (reposado tequila, mezcal, Aperol, tamarind Jarritos, strawberry and firewater bitters) is fun and funky.

    Insider Tip: You need to be on a guest list for Skybar. That, or be prepared to order bottle service or be turned away at the door. Try making reservations here.

  • Photo by: Palihouse

    Sunset Cocktail Lounge at Palihouse

    Everyone loves the secret hideaway, and the Palihouse  “boutique urban lodge” is already that. Now there’s a lounge on the roof with amazing views, open only Thursday through Saturday. There’s a tile-lined bar in the center, with brightly colored sofas, Adirondack chairs and flower-filled planter boxes. It’s like a little oasis on top of the city.

    The View: West Hollywood hills above, and the sprawl below. And lots of sunshine, sky and twinkling city lights at night.

    Eat & Drink: Cocktails veer from classic martinis to hibiscus sparklers made with vodka and champagne ($15). Snacks are limited, with things like cheddar bacon tater tots, truffle fries and fish tacos (all $8).

    Insider Tip: Short of booking the space for a party or renting/staying in a room downstairs, the only way to gain access is by emailing sunset@palihouse.com.

  • Photo by: Roof on Wilshire

    The Roof on Wilshire

    Lunch in a poolside cabana or dinner under the stars? This Eric Greenspan-driven restaurant has both - and a lot of other options to boot. There are few walls, just a lot of flow with tables and loungers spread about and a small pool in the middle.

    The View: Mid-City buildings and Beverly Hills. You're up high enough for a nice sunset any night.

    Eat & Drink: You can grab breakfast, lunch and dinner here. For the latter, try the tuna tartare nori nachos ($14) or a burger and a few sides like spaghetti squash with raisins or Brussels sprouts with bacon and sweet-and-sour onions ($7). They specialize in mules, which come with vodka, gin, scotch or tequila and ginger ale ($14).

    Insider Tip: The place really fills up with the Wilshire Boulevard office set for the $6-$7 cocktails on the Sunset Menu (3-7 PM, Monday through Friday), but the crowds wind down considerably after that.

  • Photo by: Hotel Erwin

    High at Hotel Erwin

    Watching the Venice Boardwalk from High is a glorious thing. Pun intended. Weekends are jam-packed with beachgoers and locals alike, especially since the bar opens earlier during the warmer months. DJs spin all day and night on the weekends, making sure the party never stops.

    The View: Sand, surf, sunsets, palm trees and the crazy Boardwalk scene down below.

    Eat & Drink: Cocktails like The Front Porch (cucumber-infused gin, thyme sweet tea, fresh lemon) are breezy goodness ($15); wines by the glass start at $10; beef or lamb sliders ($12); pretzel with oozy cheese for dipping ($9); currywurst ($10).

    Insider Tip: Go on the earlier side to get a good couch. If you don’t want to wait for a seat during primetime hours, make a reservation.

  • Photo by: Shangri-La

    Suite 700 at Shangri-La

    The rooftop lounge at the Santa Monica hotel has an art deco vibe and incredible views from the wraparound patio. Locals know to go during the afternoon for happy hour, but tourists, hipsters and cocktailians (especially those who like to dress like flappers) are known to take the elevator ride for the scene. 

    The View: Up and down the coast, from beyond the pier to the south to the northern curves near Malibu.

    Eat & Drink: A Manhattan or martini go down blissfully here ($15); wines by the glass run $10-$15; small bites in the lounge include things like smoked chicken empanadas ($7) and pot pie arancini ($7), and larger dishes like burgers, fish 'n' chips and flatbreads (all $14).

    Insider Tip: There’s a weekday-only happy hour from 4-7 PM. On the weekends, the bar stays open till 2 AM but winds down on the later side.

  • Photo by: London West Hollywood

    Rooftop at London West Hollywood

    Soon to be called Brit Bar, this rooftop version of Gordon Ramsay’s hotel restaurant has a garden feel, a Brit-focused cocktail and food menu, swish lounge areas and fire pits at night.

    The View: Twinkling city lights in every direction, plus the sprawl toward Beverly Hills, the Getty Center and beyond.

    Eat & Drink: Brit-focused dishes like Scotch eggs, English ale onion soup, pot-roasted bubble and squeak branzino, fish 'n' chips and more. For drinks, try a Pimm’s Cup or a London POP, a frozen cocktail on a stick.

    Insider Tip: The roof is open to nonguests, but reservations are required.

  • Photo by: Standard Downtown Los Angeles

    The Rooftop at The Standard Downtown
    You have your choice of experiences at the boutique hotel: waterbed pods and views from the rooftop pool, or an authentic German menu (pretzels, sausages, strudel) and beers at the Biergarten. Wacky loves wacky, no? It's a great place to while away a sunny, breezy afternoon.

    The View: City buildings all around you, mountains everywhere else - something about this spot really makes you love LA.

    Eat & Drink: If eating on the roof at lunch, you can get things like Thai shrimp wraps ($12), burgers, fries and other snacky food. Or sausages at the Biergarten ($8). Cocktails are around $15.

    Insider Tip: Weekend warriors don the paint and skimpy, shimmery clothes to wait in line, pay a $20 cover (after 7 PM), make out in the waterbed pods and groove a bit on the small dance floor. If you want to avoid all of that, go during the week when there are smaller crowds, no cover and you can leave the stilettos at home. Daytime is even better if you don't want crowds - especially at the Biergarten.

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Upstairs at Ace Hotel

    Packed since it opened last fall, the rooftop lounge at the Downtown hotel is perfect for drinks during the day and night. The crowd is as hipster as any Ace, with music to match. Watch the sun set as the “Jesus Saves” sign, which was left on the historic United Artists building, blazes up at night.

    The View: In one direction, it’s Los Angeles sprawl in all its glory; in the other, mountains behind tall skyscrapers and other skyline buildings. Make sure to glance near the elevator: the view of the Eastern Building across the street and the neon signs on the historic Broadway theater district is incredible.

    Eat & Drink: The cocktail menu features fun twists on tropical cocktails, like a pretty potent mai tai, plus drinks on tap, including an old fashioned. There are even frozen drinks hand-cranked by the bartenders. Prices are $10-$15.

    Insider Tip: Hungry? You can order food downstairs at LA Chapter and take it upstairs with you.

  • Photo by: Petit Ermitage

    Rooftop Club at Petit Ermitage

    With the foliage-lined rooftop, cabanas, candlelit tables and blanket-strewn ottomans, it really is an oasis on the roof of the very exclusive boutique hotel. Half the time you feel lucky to be there. Just pretend you’re a rock star to fit in with the real rock stars that might be holed up at the hotel.

    The View: Mostly the West Hollywood hills, but you can see from Downtown to Beverly Hills from some areas.

    Eat & Drink: The menu sways toward Mediterranean specialties like strawberry and tomato gazpacho, salmon with baby vegetables and Turkish lamb meatballs. Drinks are called “love potions,” but cover the basics: Moscow mule, spirit-forward swizzles and something called the Respitini, a sweet-spicy concoction made with gin, lemon, basil and Fresno chile.

    Insider Tip: The only way you’ll get to this private rooftop is if you stay at the hotel. Why not take a little staycation?

  • Photo by: Perch

    Perch

    This French-themed boîte overlooking Pershing Square and Downtown LA is a lovely spot for snacks, dinner or brunch. Wednesday nights feature an oyster bar and live jazz, plus live music on Thursday and Saturday nights. There are fire pits for cozy nights, covered tables during sunny days and indoor and outdoor seating.

    The View: From the 15th-floor restaurant, you can see Pershing Square, which is particularly fun during the free summer concert series or ice skating in the winter. Also: LA skyline all around.

    Eat & Drink: Baked Brie with fennel and mache ($8); little gem lettuces ($10); steak frites ($26); bubbles ($9-$13 by the glass, $36-$675 a bottle).

    Insider Tip: If you don't want to fight the crowds and lines - and everyone trying to get to the top via two different elevator rides - on weekend nights, try happy hour (Monday-Friday, 4 PM-6 PM) for good deals on drinks and food.

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Places Mentioned

Perch

French • Downtown

Food18 Decor26 Service17 Cost$46
 
 
 
Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
High Rooftop Lounge

Lounge • Venice Beach

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Atmo.26 Decor25 Service21 CostVE
 
 
 
Herringbone

Seafood • West Hollywood

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Skybar

Lounge • West Hollywood

Atmo.26 Decor25 Service23 CostVE
 
 
 
Suite 700

Bar • Santa Monica

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
 
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