Rooftop bars for admiring city skylines and Cape Town sunsets, or how about a bar purpose-built for watching North Pacific storms? Audley’s team of country specialists have gone in search of the best places to relax with a drink while soaking up scenery or even observing local culture. Not only do the places featured below get the drinks and the ambiance just right, they also showcase a variety of landscapes across the globe.
The little-developed island of Koh Yao Noi in Phang Nga Bay is the location for the Six Senses Yao Noi Hotel, a sophisticated retreat. Its villas (all unobtrusively constructed out of woods and other natural materials) are hidden amid jungle foliage on the island’s southern hillsides. Many of the rooms enjoy views over the bay, but you need to head to the highest point of the property to glimpse the best view of all at the Hilltop Reserve.
Here, by the infinity pool, you can enjoy a cold Chang beer or gourmet lunch and look across the bay’s millpond-like waters to some of its limestone karst islands. By day, you can see how they’re covered in vegetation; at sunset they dissolve into amorphous, shadowy shapes that break up the glowing horizon.
It’s hard to feel more at one with the modern world than when sitting in this rooftop bar, sipping a cocktail and gazing over the Huangpu River to the glittering outline of the Pudong skyline. Situated on the Bund, Shanghai’s waterfront area, The Peninsula Shanghai’s sleek and stylish open-air bar has a classy, vibrant atmosphere.
Suited bar staff will shake up a cocktail, uncork a chilled bottle of wine or pour you a tot of rare whisky over ice. Alternatively, drink a bottle of the local Tsingtao beer.
With the setting of the sun, illuminated boats pass up and down the river and the skyline gradually comes to life. From here you have postcard-worthy views of some of the city’s most striking skyscrapers, including Shanghai Tower (the second tallest building in the world), the Oriental Pearl Tower, and the Financial Tower (the ‘Bottle Opener’).
Sandwiched between Table Mountain National Park and the Atlantic Ocean, the boutique Twelve Apostles Hotel has some of the most sought-after rooms in Cape Town. Whether you’re a guest or not, the hotel’s Leopard Bar is the ideal spot for a sunset drink. In much of the city, sunset views are obstructed by Signal Hill, but here you can enjoy uninterrupted vistas of the sun sinking below the horizon, tinging the ocean pink and orange.
The bar’s interior is smart and elegant, furnished with African-print sofas and a distinctive leopard wood carving. Venture out on the open terrace and you’re greeted by wide ocean views. Here you can try a signature cocktail — go for the Vanilla Chocatini if you have a sweet tooth, or ask the bartenders to tailor a cocktail to your tastes. You can also choose from a long list of craft beers, wines, aged malt whiskies and spirits.
Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club, Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Sydney’s eastern suburb of Bondi is crammed with well-loved drinking establishments, but we think the bar of this oceanfront swimming club — founded in the 1920s and now something of a city institution — wins when it comes to views.
From the bar in the coolly modern clubhouse you can enjoy fine Australian wines, beers and cocktails while overlooking the Olympic-sized seawater pool that sits on a natural wave-cut platform. Below you, members and visitors alike resolutely swim lengths, despite breakers from the Tasman Sea occasionally surging over the pool walls.
Beyond the pool, you look out over the sweeping crescent of Bondi Beach as surf-loving locals and visitors try their hand at this famous break. You can also trace the coastal path that leads all the way around a headland to nearby Bronte Beach. Turn your gaze away from Bondi, and you’ll see nothing but endless-seeming ocean.
Lake Villarrica is dominated by the almost perfectly conical, picture-book Volcano Villarrica with its mantle of snow, and both are among the stars of Chile’s Lake District. The Hotel Antumalal occupies an enviable position on the shores of Villarrica, just outside the lakeside town of Pucón, a hub for adventure activities.
Antumalal is set in mature landscaped gardens that throng with birdlife such as ibis. But the real highlight of staying here is the views over the lake itself. From the bar’s terrace, the lake never looks the same — sometimes pierced with light at sunset, sometimes swathed with clouds that partly obscure the surrounding forested mountains.
You can drink inside or outside — we prefer alfresco, to make the most of the alpine air. Your tipple of choice would have to be a pisco sour, a glass of Chilean Carménère, or the local artisan beer Kunstmann.
The Wickaninnish Inn has a bold position on the wave-lashed rocks of Vancouver Island’s west coast. Situated within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, this Relais & Châteaux property has been specially designed for guests to watch storms roll in. Even in placid conditions, you can’t help but gaze out across the North Pacific and the broken rocks that jut from its waters.
Before or after a meal in The Pointe Restaurant, whose circular design affords 240-degree views over the ocean, you can unwind with a drink in the On The Rocks Bar & Lounge. Here you have similar ocean views, but with sofas and armchairs to laze in.
The bar staff have put together a few of their own cocktails, inspired by the coastal setting, while the list of Canadian whiskies, Irish whiskeys and single malts seems to never end. There’s also a good selection of spirits, liqueurs and wines, as well as a range of black and herbal teas.
Disclosure: Most reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.