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Top 5 Sydney Rooftop Bars

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by Nicholas Gordon (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in Sydney.
Published January 12th 2012
Top 5 Sydney Rooftop Bars

Sydney, unlike say New York, doesn't have many great rooftop bars. Whether it's because of our nanny state licensing laws, the domination of soulless beer barns, or the simple fact that empty rooftops are hard to come by, there's not nearly as many as there should be.

But for those in the know, there are a few places to drink up high in our fair city. So catch your breath and get ready to climb some stairs. What follows is five notable rooftop bars in Sydney.

The Glenmore Rooftop Hotel
96 Cumberland St, The Rocks

A mainstay of The Rocks, the Glenmore has one of Sydney's best-known rooftop bars. Covering the entire top floor of the grand old pub, it ain't the hippest spot in town, but with a view like that, who really cares? Pull up a seat and gaze smugly out at the Harbour and Opera House and realise there are people who pay thousands of bucks to come halfway around the world to see what you're seeing. A small bar operates on the roof to service the endless stream of drinkers that trek up the stairs. Come early to snare a good seat.

323 King St, Newtown

Newtown's ever-popular shrine to drinking boasts its best feature up top. And unlike a lot of so-called rooftop bars, Zanzibar offers a great big open space that's a whole lot more than just a place to light up a smoke. The tiny bar on the roof mightn't pack a punch - go downstairs for anything fancier than beer or cider but if it's a cold beer on a hot Newtown night you're seeking, then there's no better spot.

Hotel Sweeney's
236 Clarence St, City

The lower reaches of Hotel Sweeny's are given over to tradies and old men losing their money on horse races, but take the seemingly never-ending staircase up three levels and you'll reach a wonderful rooftop drinking spot. Set against the background of the city's skyscrapers, the small terrace has an equally small bar, which somehow manages to be stocked with an array of good drinks. On a sunny day or warm evening it's a top place to throw down a few.

Pub Metro
Level 1/1 Bridge St, City

Situated above McDonald's, on the corner of Bridge and George streets, Pub Metro is your average city watering hole. The first bar, up one flight of stairs, offers pleasant views of the bustle of George Street below, but is nothing more than a one-or-two-after-work place. Another flight of stairs leads to another bar that's exactly the same. But keep climbing those stairs. Although not big the case could be made that what you've reached is in fact a balcony the Metro's rooftop is set high up in the skyscrapers and offers damn pleasant views. A terrific city secret.

Pyrmont Bridge Hotel
96 Union St, Pyrmont

Pyrmont Bridge Hotel is an old-fashioned boozer that's been around since when Darling Harbour was a working port and not a boring tourist hangout. This pub's got all the boxes ticked: plenty of beers on tap, sport on the tube and cool old pub decor. It's also open 24/7 and has a very, very relaxed entry policy. The rooftop bar is a pleasant space with a chilled-out atmosphere and plenty of prime vantage points. Handy to the newly tarted-up pokie den known these days as The Star and just a hop over the bridge from town. Well-worth keeping in mind if you find yourself in that neck of the woods.
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Why? For fresh air, cool drinks and pleasant views.
When: Daily
Where: In and around Sydney's CBD
Cost: Varies
Your Comment
You forgot the lovely balcony space at the Beauchamp Hotel (unfortunately pronounced "Beach 'em!") on Oxford Street -

by keeke (score: 0|4) 3603 days ago
Are any of these Bars non smoking?Its a pity to have a great view but to be smoked out.

Is the Steyne Hotel the one near the beach? I love the inside of that one, yet I havent seen a rooftop bar there.
by Jody Kimber (score: 2|902) 3595 days ago
Great article, now I have more places to check out.
by Former Writer (score: 3|1221) 1778 days ago
Re The Pyrmont Bridge Hotel. Apart from the comments printed the food is also worthwhile mentioning, it's tasty, large servings and cheap as "you know".
by enriquito2005 (score: 1|49) 3603 days ago
What about rooftop bars in Palace Hotel in Coogee
and Steyne Hotel Manly.
That`s what I call a view.
Ah sorry they are not in the CBD
by jjroz (score: 1|13) 3603 days ago
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