By Laurel Tuohy
Dec 31, 2020
NEW YEAR’S EVE CALLS FOR GLAMOUR, glimmer and festive cocktails. Add in a spectacular rooftop location and you have one to truly remember – despite a year we’d rather forget. Though border rules may keep your travel plans domestic, new luxurious and atmospheric sky bars have opened all around Asia this year. From Seoul to Phnom Penh, here are the new rooftops on our radar.
Tipsy Elephant, Vientiane
Vientiane isn’t known for its luxury nightlife, but Tipsy Elephant is aiming to change that. The rooftop lounge is perched on the 10th floor of SureStay Hotel by Best Western Vientiane and offers a cooling Mekong breeze and twinkling views of the river. Expect to find a mix of locals and expats relaxing over cocktails like the Smoked Dark Night (LAK75,000) with sweet vermouth, gin and Fernet Branco, or the Drunken Elephant, a potent blend of Bulleit, Dubonnet, coffee, bitters and sweet vermouth (LAK75,000) while snacking on The Tipsy Platter (LAK150,000), loaded with charcuterie, pate and smoked duck. With guest DJs and regional bartender takeovers, this hip spot has quickly risen to the top of Vientiane nightlife.
Paying tribute to the tropics of Thailand, the Bar.Yard chill out zone on the 40th floor of the Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok, bills itself as a “day club, rooftop oasis and bar” and it certainly delivers. With a tiki bar, tropical cocktails and a menu combining American barbecue with farm-to-plate goodness, it’s easy to let day slide into night surrounded by everything you need to keep the party going. Try vegetarian dishes like Fresh Pomelo & Young Coconut salad (Bt190) or something from their in-house smokers like Ancho Dark Beer Smoked BBQ Baby Pork Ribs (Bt360). Wash them down with The Brown Coconut (Bt390), a mix of mezcal, coconut water and hazelnut, or The Passion Fruit (Bt280), featuring vodka, Aperol, passion fruit, lime, curacao and ginger. T+L Tip: Depending on just how far you want this night to take you, do check the booze-rating graphics on their house-recipe dranks; some are good for lightweights, others more than deliver your money’s worth in ABV.
Paradise Lost, Bangkok
Soak up the retro pink and yellow vibes at a rooftop reminiscent of the tile-heavy Art Deco hotels of Miami Beach. On the 25th floor of Siam@Siam Design Hotel Bangkok, just next to the shopping district of Siam, Paradise Lost is the perfect spot for post-shopping cocktails with a 360-degree view. Kick back on a round daybed and order a Curse of Civilisation (Bt400) with Scotch, yellow chartreuse, mango, chrysanthemum, honey and fizz, or Can’t Burn Concrete (Bt400), a tiki tribute containing dark rum, coconut, jackfruit, absinthe and citrus. They also have a full menu with inventive nibbles like Mango Wrap x Popped Fish (Bt350) and Paradise Oysters x Lemongrass Jelly (Bt350).
Lantern Rooftop Bar, Phnom Penh
Located at Baitong Hotel & Resort and accessible by a glass bridge, Lantern Rooftop Bar has quickly grown a following with their live music lineup and upscale design featuring cement, rattan canopies, chill-out sofas, and of course, lots of lanterns. Try a signature cocktail like the Battambang Old Fashioned (US$5.50) with rye, brown sugar syrup, bitters and orange bitters, or Khmer 75 (US$5.50) with gin, sparkling wine, lime and syrup. An inventive tapas menu includes Squid Croquettes (US$7) and Teriyaki Roulettes (US$7).
Privilege Bar, Seoul
Probably the swankiest of the new launches, Privilege Bar sits on the rooftop of the Mondrian Seoul Itaewon, in the heart of the famed nightlife district. With a focus on decor, single malt whiskies and wine, their signature drink menu is hisky-based as well and designed with the connoisseur in mind. The bar features a stylish outdoor terrace backlit by a bulb-studded wall and anchored by a gazebo-like round bar. The high-design indoor space has a library-like feel, decked out in moody shades of steel with an indoor chiminea and aesthetically pleasing wall of whiskies where guests might expect to see books.
On the rise
And finally, here’s a preview of Vitality Bar – Cat Ba, Vietnam, which is supposed to open April 2021:
For those who prefer a non-city rooftop bar experience, set sail for northerly Lan Ha Bay. Vitality Bar is set to preside over Hotel Perle d’Orient Cat Ba – MGallery. With a vibe more fitting to island life than urban rooftops, Vitality aims for just as much sophistication, with a beachclub-style bonus: guests will be able to relax on loungers, jump in the pool between sips, and drink in those stunning, world-famous Halong views of deep blue waters interrupted only by limestone karsts in the distance. The flame-ignited sunsets are particularly stunning here.