The New York skyline is second to none in terms of recognizability, but hidden in the jagged peaks and valleys are more than a few surprises. You’ll find that the rooftops of New York have their own personality, and it’s as varied as the city that never sleeps. Without ever touching the streets, you can find incredible restaurants – both known and unknown – gardens of every size and variety, and a dizzying array of businesses and entertainments that are, ironically, part of the “underground” scene of the Big Apple. You’ll also find some gorgeous pools, ponds, and waterworks.
To celebrate our love for New York and show you a few marvels of modern plumbing, we collected the 14 coolest rooftop pools of NYC. They’ll help you get your feet wet whether you’re new in town, or a graduate of the Hell’s Kitchen school of bloody knuckles and busted lips.
Available solely to guests of the swanky Park Avenue address, the heated pool is well worth the price of admission, if you can find a time when it isn’t packed. For those who prefer to celebrate while enjoying a look directly at the Empire State building and dining on gourmet poolside snacks, this is as much nightclub as it is day spa.
Manhattan Plaza Health Club
Available year-round thanks to a retractable glass roof, the Plaza has a glorious lap pool with a special side area specifically for children to use during kid’s swim times. Not as much for lounging as for toning your perfect body, you don’t even need a membership to the club to bob along, with day passes available for a variety of prices depending on age. Those passes will also let you use the sauna and whirlpool to complete the experience.
Holiday Inn Midtown
Not as high or as prestigious as some, there’s little to thumb your nose at with the immersive panoramic skyline that makes you feel as much a part of the city, as apart from it at this little oasis. Simple and straightforward, the chaise chairs can be had on a first-come, first-serve basis, and the fare at the snack bar is as uncomplicated as the atmosphere is welcoming.
The Beach at Dream Downtown
In an attempt to bring a slice of the French Riviera to the Meatpacking district, The Beach has a lovely pool complete with navy and white lounge equipment for a touch of Europe right at home. The pool has a glass bottom for viewing above and below, and there’s even a separate beach area with real imported sand that doesn’t touch the pool, so grit is minimized. $55 will score you a day pass, or you can book a cabana with seating for 10, should you want to bring your entourage.
The James New York
Closed to all but hotel guests during the week, The James throws open its classy upscale pool from noon to 5pm on the weekends for all who wish to bask in its grandeur. For those days it’s often a standing-room-only scene, with a DJ dropping beats and catering by the David Burke kitchen. Overlooks the Hudson and Midtown for a bit of nature and the beating heart of the concrete jungle.
Sixty LES on Allen Street
Uber trendy and found on the Lower East Side, the spirit of the Sixty LES (aka Thompson LES) is tragically hip, right down to the filmstrip pictures of pop-art legend Andy Warhol photolithographed onto the tiles on the floor of the pool. Plush and pampering chaise lounges line the edges of the water, with a bar stocked full of specialty drinks and delectable sushi.
Equinox Printing House
You can join the gym for a steep fee and swim to your heart’s content throughout the summer, or just make an appointment to snag a little time paddling away. On-site spa services are available should you long for a massage or a hot tub soak. Hit it at the right time, and you’re likely to have the 15-meter swimming space mostly to yourself, though you can also go when it’s stuffed for a little flirting and conversation as you gaze at the stunning skyline view.
La Piscine at Hotel Americano
Each night from 6 to midnight the Hotel Americano’s rooftop pool becomes a watering hole with an actual water hole, though you often won’t see too many people in their bathing wear. Latin-French food helps add to a classy but casual atmosphere, along with some drink specials that will give you a nice buzz to go along with watching the sun set and the city lights come alive.
Soho House on Ninth
Fans of Sex and the City will instantly recognize the Soho House’s famous (and infamous) rooftop pool with its distinctive lounge chairs and view of the best New York has to offer. It’s a member’s only establishment, which means a hefty price for some, and an adventure for anyone who likes to work up a sweat dodging the doorman before they dip in and rub elbows with the exclusive elite.
Le Parker Meridien
Sitting 42 stories into the sky, the glass roof provides ample sunshine as the floor to ceiling windows give you a view of NYC’s crown jewel, Central Park, without any obstructions to ruin the scenery. An outdoor sundeck allows you to soak up some rays and a poolside menu gives you burgers and nachos to help you increase your tannable real estate, at least around the waistline.
Le Bain at The Standard
A scant 4 feet deep, Le Bain’s pool isn’t really meant for fitness enthusiasts, unless your idea of a workout is a sweaty run on the dance floor. A DJ spins almost every night, with the lighted pool taking center stage, and adding an aquatic element to any dance battles that break out. Don’t bother with the swimming trunks; dress to impress and allure instead.
This is the hidden gem of rooftop pools. While it sits atop The Penthouse of the Skyline Hotel, and has a roof over much of it, there’s also a deck on the exterior that will offer up plenty of eye candy that will take your breath away. Not very large, but also rarely crowded, it’s more a gentle oasis for reflecting than a place to wear out your body with laps.
Empire Hotel’s Pool Deck
Perhaps the Empire put the pool on the 13th floor hoping to drive the superstitious away, the bi-level pool will give you a pigeon’s eye view of such NYC delights as the Lincoln Center and the sweeping arboreal majesty of Central Park. Day beds, private cabanas, lounge chairs, and even televisions and phones are all at hand, should any basic whim arise.
6,000 square feet worth of whimsy and fun, you cannot go wrong with the rooftop waters of the Trump Soho, whatever you may think of the man. Craft cocktails are made to order at the splendid Bar D’Eau liquor lounge, bocce courts give you a little fun in the sun, and crafted topiary frames the hustle of the streets below, giving the hubbub an idyllic Zen sensibility.