In a city with as much sunshine as LA, you’d assume it would be easy to find bars, patios, and dance parties on rooftops. It’s not. But it’s also your friend’s birthday, and she’s requested a view of the Hollywood Hills.
Now is not the time to remind her about the overpriced drinks and crowds full of people who still scream when LMFAO comes on. It’s time to make the best of what LA has to offer. Stick to these 11 rooftops, always try to make a reservation, and both you and your friend will be happy.
You don’t love a rooftop, but you do love expert-level people watching while sipping cocktails in silence. Go to Mama Shelter. This colorful hotel rooftop in the heart of Hollywood is one of the most popular outdoor spots in the city - the crowd is a mix of actors trying to get as drunk as possible and Europeans on holiday doing the exact same thing. There’s a full food menu, movie-themed cocktails, foosball, and oversized daybeds for you to sit back and watch the chaos unfold around you. We suggest you get a reservation.
This is our favorite rooftop in DTLA. The Nomad’s pool bar and restaurant finds that perfect balance between being calm and relaxing, but also kind of a party. No one is here to fist-pump to a DJ who wasn’t a DJ six months ago, but if you pass out on a pool chair after five cocktails, you won’t stick out either. The servers actually pay attention to you, the bar snacks are better than they need to be (get the fava bean hummus), and the cocktails are some of the best in the city.
This rooftop spot at Platform in Culver City works hard to convince you that you’re going to hate it before you even get there - first, you walk through a pristine outdoor mall that (we think) exclusively sells fancy soaps, and then you take an elevator up to the dining room with a bunch of people going to SoulCycle. But once you finally arrive at Margot, you’ll realize the same thing we did - that this is a perfectly pleasant patio. There’s plenty of space to sit around, some nice views, good cocktails, and a solid menu of small plates like Iberian ham, crudo, and pan con tomate.
Trying to plan a birthday party or big group get-together at a rooftop can be a daunting task. Lines are long, it’s hard to get everyone in, and you just spent a grand on a sticky cabana. Skip all that and go to Upstairs at Ace Hotel instead. The massive industrial space has a full bar, a separate pool area that’s open to the public, and tons of table areas to take over. It can certainly get crowded on the weekends, but the crowd is laid-back and not looking to get too rowdy.
Sorra has the best views of the Hollywood Sign in LA, but it still manages to remain strangely not-crowded (don’t tell your 19-year-old cousin who drives in from Orange County every weekend). There’s a pool, some extremely well-made cocktails, and a full dinner menu that includes crispy fried chicken, pork bao, and very good grilled maitake mushrooms. Next time you’re waiting in line for Mama Shelter, just remember that Sorra is a short walk down the street.
LA is home to plenty of unsolved mysteries, but none are more perplexing than the lack of good rooftop pool/bars/restaurants on the Westside. Luckily, we do have High Lounge. The rooftop space at the Hotel Erwin in Venice is one of the few hotel rooftops you can check out even if you’re not a guest. Though there isn’t a pool, the drinks are solid and the views are as good as you’d expect from a hotel one block from the beach. On weekends the crowd can get bro-tastic, but if you’re able to go on an off-time, or after work during the week, you might have the place to yourself.
While Malibu, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills don’t have many rooftops, you can find the highest concentration of places to drink on top of buildings in DTLA. Perch isn’t the newest or most exciting rooftop in the area, but it’s still a great option when you’re in the market for something more low-key. Overlooking Pershing Square, this French restaurant has a great two-level space and a crowd full of dates grabbing a nightcap after dinner.
If it’s Friday or Saturday night, don’t even bother with this rooftop bar in West Hollywood. Lines are long, and unless the guy at the door remembers you from last time, you’re not getting in. But early in the day on a weekend, or after work one night during the week, you’ll find a relatively calm (read: tolerable) atmosphere and the best views in Weho. Drinks are pricey but strong, and when the stiletto brigade starts to fill the place out, there are plenty of corners to sneak off to and find some peace.
Whether you’re at the West Hollywood or the Downtown location of The Standard, you can expect an at-capacity space full of extremely drunk people who will all end up in the pool within the next hour. It’s an all-out party, and when that’s what we’re looking for, we always pick the Downtown location. Not because the crows are any smaller, but because the DTLA Standard has waterbeds and ping-pong tables, and a massive space that will keep you as far away from the pool as you’d like.
California gave Florida Disney World, and in return, Florida gave us Broken Shaker. It might not be the most even trade, but we’ll happily accept a good rooftop pool bar where we can get one. Broken Shaker sits on top of the Freehand Hotel Downtown and offers all the requisite things you need for a good day at the pool - good drinks, unobstructed views, and animal floaties that will garner tons of traction on your personal socials. It’s definitely a see-and-be-seen crowd here, so wear your oversized hat and sunglasses, and go side-eye with the best of them.
Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, The Montage is one of the most high-end hotels in the area, and just so happens to have a rooftop pool bar/restaurant where you can actually relax. The food is admittedly overpriced and mediocre, but what’s a day at the pool without a hummus trio to pick at? Drinks are strong, views are fantastic, and you can doze off knowing you aren’t going to be splashed by someone doing a fully-clothed cannonball.