Rooftop bars are always a popular destination wherever you are in the world. In recent years Perth has cottoned on to the trend, with many vacant roof spaces being converted into trendy open air sky decks, each bringing its own unique style to our burgeoning small bar scene.
a) You're on a roof, everyone's inner child loves being on a roof. b) They feel more open, being outside in that thing we love here in WA called the sun. c) It's something different, different is good! d) Fresh air and less noise (there are no walls for sound to bounce off).
Unless you've been living under a rock you'll most likely know by now that Print Hall is the place to be in Perth ever since opening up last year.
Print Hall is housed inside the old printing headquarters of our local newspaper, The West Australian, and features four levels of awesomeness. Print Hall has garnered an excellent reputation for high quality food and stocking some of the best craft beers from Australia and around the world. It may be pricey but hey, life's too short to drink cheap beer!
Up the top is Bob's bar, a classy open air venue perched amongst the urban jungle of the Perth CBD. The rooftop bar is dedicated to Bob Hawke and features the original West Australian paper signage, a kiosk style building in the centre to order food and drinks, and a good range of comfy seating options for couples, groups and business stuff.
How do you make yourself stand out in the concrete and glass expanse of a modern city? Well, how about cover your whole building in pot plants!? If you've walked down St. Georges Terrace in recent years you will have no doubt had a double take at the pot plant building below Enex100.
This building is The Greenhouse, a two-storey small bar with an open air rooftop situated under the cover of the Enex100 building. The Greenhouse's pot plant lined walls contain a chic, contemporary venue with a quality food and beverage list for all hours... even a little coffee window for those walking by in the morning.
The rooftop is open plan with the bar tucked away to the side. On weekends you get live music lit by candlelight (and gas heaters in winter). The drinks list is small but high class, with Two Birds being a regular on the taps. On the down side, they are part of the "we don't serve pints" brigade.
Like Print Hall, Stables Bar has channeled Perth's history to create a classy blend of old and new. No prizes for guessing what the premises were formerly used for (hint: it involves horses).
The walkway to Stables
Unlike Print Hall, Stables bar is decidedly more low key. Tucked down an alleyway up the West end of Hay street, the two-storey bar feels like an enchanted world. A wooden balcony partially surrounds the large tree lit up at the entrance while vines cover what would have otherwise been a dreary brick wall.
Like the rest of our rooftop bars the drinks list is fantastic, although it is rather unfortunate that - like many of our new bars - they're part of the 'we don't serve pints' brigade. There are plenty of seating options both undercover and under the stars, and I dare say I've never heard a cringe-worthy song come through the Stable speakers.
Situated right above the train station, the Aviary is one of the trendiest establishments in town and a favourite haunt of the modern hipster.
Get inside and walk up another flight of stairs and you reach the Nest, a spacious open air deck overlooking the Murray street mall and city towers.
The deck sticks true to its name, the furnishings and ornaments really do make you feel like you're perched in a cozy urban tree. Fun, free form fairy lights radiate a dim glow over the wooden balcony while trees and garden seats a scattered over the fake grass floor.
Again, no pints, which is disappointing. The beer list is neither good nor bad, they have all the normal stuff you'd expect at trendy new bars as well as a very popular cocktail list.
In many ways The Conservatory above Carnegies is much the same as the Aviary. It's an open air rooftop bar fitted out with fake grass, furniture that wouldn't go astray in a manicured garden and a stock standard drinks list.
The Conservatory does have a few extra bells and whistles though. For example, there are barbeques, the seats and tables are a little nicer and it's a bit quieter so you can actually have a conversation without losing your voice yelling. It also has a retractable roof so you can still go up when it starts raining.
Rest of Perth
The Cabin Small Bar in Mt Hawthorn is a secret rooftop haunt that, once discovered, is hard to stay away from. The cozy interior feels more like a Canadian mountain hut than a pub while the external balcony looks out over the Mt Hawthorn streetscape with glimpses of suburbia over the rooftops.
The Cabin Bar's philosophy when it comes to food is all about sharing. All meals are served in bite-sized pieces for the whole group to enjoy. Prices are a little steep even by Perth's standards but the ingredients used are absolutely top notch and the quality and presentation can't really be complained about.
The bar has misters for summer and heaters and a fireplace for winter. The drinks list is what you'd expect at most modern bars, a small range of beer & cider, all the popular cocktails and a decent wine selection.
Most bars claim to be unique but, truth be told, almost all of them follow the same mould. Mechanics Institute is one bar that can truly claim the title, though. Everything from design to drinks to food presentation is completely different to what you'll see elsewhere in Perth.
The view from Mechanics in Northbridge
The tiny rooftop bar won 2013's best small bar award and it's plain to see why. The laid back atmosphere is complemented by a big range of spirits, wines and beers as well as some very interesting ways to serve food - really, really different to say the least!
The Garden in Leederville is a modern, chic venue that has garnered plenty of attention and popularity since opening a few years a go. Like some of the other rooftop bars, it has a fake grass roof and outdoor dining style decor. With a very casual and fun atmosphere it's an easy place to spend a relaxed afternoon.
They have a small but good beer range with some mainstream brands for the beer plebs, big brand craft brews such as James Squire for the hipsters and proper Australian owned micro brews for the beer fanatics. The mostly Australian wine list features many small time makers, mostly from our famous growing regions in WA and SA.
On the down side, The Garden's food prices are a little ridiculous for the comparatively small servings and casual surrounds. Salads start from $18 and entrees from $10, while most mains sit in the mid $30's.