Views from the top: The comeback of the rooftop bar

They are back! For a few years we have seen rooftop restaurants and bars opening everywhere. New developments have them and existing properties are getting one. I love it! Rooftop venues were always my favorites.

I remember a project I was managing about 15 years ago. In course of a renovation building a roof top bar on the existing building was discussed. It took not even five minutes until the subject was dropped. The arguments were: “We will never earn money with the bar,” “Guests will not find it, they will not be aware that there is a bar on the roof.”

This has changed today. Social media and people’s habits are supporting or causing the trend. People are looking for experiences and want to share them with their friends via social media – and a selfie from a rooftop is definitely something to share. I also noticed that the quality of the venues has risen. They are designed and operated to be a destination, not just a place with a view, as they used to be.

If rooftop bars or restaurants are built on top of existing buildings, besides structural issues fire and life safety measures can be a problem. The extension of emergency staircases is not always possible and the capacity of the existing ones may not be sufficient for the additional crowd of guests. In many cases, therefore, the number of guests who can be there at the same time is limited.

Many rooftop venues are also not fully accessible with elevators. In existing buildings, the elevators were not designed to reach the roof. At many new-built buildings, the top platform is the top of the building and the construction of an elevator to the top level is not possible. There have to be ways found not to discriminate against costumers and also to solve the operational issues.

Here are two examples, which are currently my favorites – there are many more spectacular places out there and hopefully in the pipeline of developers!

Atmosphere at the Ritz Carlton Vienna, Austria
Atmosphere at the Ritz Carlton Vienna, Austria
Vertigo at Banyantree Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
Vertigo at Banyantree Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand