Arguably one of the most recognisable in the world, the Manhattan skyline is pretty impressive to behold. And there are a million and one ways to see it. You can climb to the top one of the very buildings that make the Manhattan skyline so memorable. Or, my personal favourite, you can drink in the view with a cocktail in hand at one of the many rooftop bars in NYC.
The Empire State Building vs. the Top of the Rock
In my five months in New York, I made it to the top of the Empire State Building twice (once during the day, once at night) and to the Top of the Rock (at the Rockefeller Centre) only once. And despite going back up the Empire State for a second time, I would have to say the Top of the Rock wins hand down.
While the view is still beautiful, the main problem with being on top of the Empire State Building is that you can’t see the Empire State Building. That, and the view to Central Park is blocked by the rival Rockefeller Centre. From the Top of the Rock, however, you can see the Empire State Building to the south AND Central Park to the north. It is definitely my pick of the two.
And if you do decide to go with the Empire State Building, my one piece of advice is to avoid what is called the NY Skyride. What can only be described as an “interesting” experience, the NY Skyride is a simulated helicopter-come-spaceship ride through New York City. Sold to us as the perfect introduction to NYC, the only thing the Skyride will do is confuse your understanding of the city’s geography and make you laugh in disbelief that you paid for 30-minutes of Kevin Bacon’s voice narrating you through an 80s streetscape of Manhattan, complete with a surprise shark in the Hudson River. Proceed with caution.
Cocktails at a rooftop bar is an absolute must-do when in New York. I was lucky to make it to quite a few during my stay. Here are my picks for the best spots to grab a drink with a Manhattan view.
Le Bain at the Standard (444 W13th Street, Meatpacking District, New York, between Washington Street & 10th Avenue)
Le Bain is a pumping nightclub and rooftop bar at the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District. This is the place to dance the night away against the beautiful backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. Ironically, the best view by far is from the bathrooms. And if you’re after a more laid back vibe, the rooftop is the place to be.
The Press Lounge at Ink48 (653 11th Avenue, Hells Kitchen, New York, between W47th & W48th Street)
The Press Lounge is great for some more laid back drinks with friends. With a view of the city from the West, the skyline is there to be seen in all its glory. This is the perfect place to see Manhattan during the winter as the enclosed area keeps the warmth in, while floor to ceiling glass allows for uninterrupted views of the city. You might want to prepare your wallets though, the view at the Press Lounge comes with a price. The drinks are great, but not cheap. For those of us whose wallets don’t stretch very far, this might just be the perfect venue to start the night with a view and a drink, before moving on to somewhere more affordable.
But no matter which way you do it, whether you’re the cocktail type or not, gaining a Manhattan view is something you just have to do when you’re in New York.
Also in this series: