The best roof bars in L.A. and Southern California

Southern California is noted for fantastic weather, gorgeous views, and beautiful people. What better way to enjoy all three than by visiting one of the trendy roof bars overlooking the Pacific, the Hollywood Hills, or Downtown.

Most feature designer cocktails and high-end appetizers, and many have rooftop pools and cabanas. At most of them, you’ll need to look sharp, be a guest of the hotel, or sneak in before the bouncer arrives.

1) Standard Hotel
The Standard Hotel located downtown has one of the coolest roof bars in Southern California. Surrounded by the city’s skyscrapers — yes, L.A. has skyscrapers — it’s a dazzling, urban setting with a heated swimming pool, an outdoor fireplace, a lawn with topiary sculpture, and vibrating waterbed pods. It’s not as hard to get into as ABH or Sky Bar, but bring your A game just the same.

2) Shangri-La Hotel
Right across the street from Santa Monica Beach, the Shangri-La was recently redone and today, the 1939 Art Deco palace really shines. Suite 700, designed by Marc Smith, has sweeping view of the beach and Santa Monica Pier, hand-crafted cocktails, small plates, and fire pits. If you get chilly, there’s seating inside the nautical-style bar that opens onto the roof. Suite 700 used to be available only to guests, but now the public is welcome too.

3) Hotel Erwin
South of Santa Monica Beach, High is on the roof of Hotel Erwin, the new Joie de Vivre property in Venice. Formerly the Marina Pacific Hotel, the Erwin is in the perfect location for enjoying everything that Venice has to offer. And High features 360-degree views of everything — Muscle Beach, the boardwalk, Santa Monica Pier, and the endless Pacific. Designer cocktails and a low-key attitude make High an appealing choice. Sunday brunch has bottomless mimosas or bloody Marys.

4) Thompson Beverly Hills
Ultra hip hotelier Jason Pomeranc has brought some Manhattan style to Beverly Hills. ABH (Above Beverly Hills) has a roof-top pool studded with Swarovski crystals, private cabanas, great views, and sushi and nibbles from the hotel‘s Bond Street restaurant. Like the A60 Bar atop the Thompson in Soho, ABH is restricted to hotel guests and “members.” But if you look like you belong and drop by during the afternoon, you might get in.

5) Mondrian Hotel
Located in West Hollywood, The Mondrian has been going strong for decades. The very popular Sky Bar was recently redesigned by Tim Andreas of Banjo. Floating over the city, the lounge has overstuffed sofas, Mexican furniture, and a very exclusive crowd. You’ll either need to be on the guest list or show up before 8PM and hope to not get evicted.

6) The London West Hollywood
You wouldn’t expect to find an English country garden high above West Hollywood, but you’ll find one at the London. Private, pool-side cabanas, inventive cocktails, and food overseen by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay make the roof garden at the London a great choice for a nice evening out.

7) Huntley Hotel
With 360-degree views taking in the Pacific, the Hollywood Hills, and everything in between, the Penthouse at the Huntley is another excellent choice in Santa Monica. Cozy cabanas, an outdoor fireplace, and an upscale, affluent crowd it’s usually packed. Although the 18th-floor space is technically enclosed, there’s nothing between you and the view but walls of windows.

8) Elevate Lounge
Located in a 7,000-square-foot penthouse on the 21st-floor, Elevate Lounge is one of the few roof bars in L.A. that’s not in a hotel. The ultra-modern lounge has150 feet of sliding glass doors that open right onto the high rises of the financial district — yes, L.A. has one of those too. High rollers can invest in VIP bottle service, which starts at $255. Elevate is open Thursdays through Saturdays, and valet parking is available.

9) The Peninsula Beverly Hills
Described as a poolside patio garden, The Roof Garden atop the Peninsula recently received a $4 million makeover that included a living wall of jasmine, wisteria, and palms. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so you can enjoy the views day or night. During the summer, Saturday and Sunday night Ribs on the Roof barbecues are very popular. You can get the three-course prix fixe for $55, or order a la carte. Non-rib eaters can get Alaskan halibut or Maine lobster for a supplement.

10) W Hotel Hollywood
Managed by Las Vegas nightlife impresario Victor Drai, Drai’s and the Wet Deck, atop the W Hotel Hollywood, combine a night club, a restaurant, and a 20,000-square-foot roof terrace with killer views of the Hollywood Hills. Poolside cabanas, Moroccan day beds, and VIP bottle service are available for those who want to impress. And Sunday-afternoon pool parties here are the most popular in town. Drai’s Thursday and Sunday night pool parties are very popular.

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