Top 15 most impressive hotel rooftop views in the world

Our friends at Trivago have assembled a list of the top 15 “hotel rooftop views”. These hotels all feature some of the most impressive rooftop terraces, bars or swimming pools in the world, overlooking some of the most amazing cities.

  1. Jumeirah Beach Hotel (Dubai)
  2. Hotel at Lebua State Tower (Bangkok)
  3. Hotel de Rome (Berlin)
  4. Bairro Alto Hotel (Lisbon)
  5. The Ritz-Carlton (Moscow)
  6. NH Parque Central (Havana)
  7. Hotel Gansevoort (New York)
  8. Grand Hotel Central (Barcelona)
  9. Hotel U Prince (Prague)
  10. Terrass Hotel (Paris)
  11. Hotel St. George Roma (Rome)
  12. The Trafalgar Hotel (London)
  13. Fresh Hotel (Athens)
  14. Palms Casino Resort (Las Vegas)
  15. The Marmara Pera (Istanbul)


Hotel Exclusive: The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong

The fog settled heavily on this particular night in Shanghai. I was told the view from the 58th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong was of The Bund, but the dense fog provided a different view. ‪I thought, this is what heaven must be like — surrounded by clouds, with just a saxophonist, a glass of red wine and a comfortable lounge chair.‬

Located across the Huangpu River and offering (on a clear night) spectacular views of the famous Bund, the hotel opens June 21 to the world. I got a sneak peak at the luxury digs, including a cocktail on the open terrace of the tallest rooftop bar in Shanghai.

I stepped into the soon-to-be-open second Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai and felt like I had crossed the threshold into another universe. Flanked on either side by luxury retailers including Giorgio Armani and Louis Vuitton, the hotel accentuates luxury in a modern Mandarin-style shell. While the exterior of the hotel looks like another Shanghai skyscraper, the interior is a feast for the senses.

Crystal chandeliers set against gold and black walls create the mood as you walk into the lobby. After the guest services member greets you at the lobby-floor level, you’ll head to the 52nd floor for check-in (the hotel occupies the top 14 floors of the building). But there’s something enchanting about the scene as you ascend. Soft lighting against the dark walls of the interior compel you to touch just about anything in your reach. The “old-world glamour” interior in the modern building is enchanting and enticing, and it doesn’t disappoint. With interior designs by Richard Farnell, the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, sets a new standard in hotel decor: sensory enlightenment. If you steal a feel of the walls on your way up, you’ll be surprised at the textures that set the mood – from marble to velvet, the hotel is sleek and sexy (and somehow makes its guests feel the same way).

I arrived on the 52nd floor and was lured into the bright reception area by the sultry sounds of the saxophonist playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. White marble walls offset by deep red sofas and a black marble check-in desk officially welcome guests to the hotel. On the reception level are two restaurants: the Lobby Lounge and an open-kitchen full-service Italian restaurant, designed by the famous Super Potato Group. Both restaurants offer stunning views of Shanghai, but guests would be remiss if they missed an opportunity to sit at the ‘bartender’s table’ – a section of the Lobby Lounge set behind the bar in close proximity to all the action.

The Rooms
The 258 guest rooms offer standard rooms and suites ranging in size from 538-square-feet to 4,413-square-feet. Each deluxe room comes with Club Lounge access on the 49th floor and the amenities you’d expect from a luxury hotel including:

  • LCD-TV and Blu-ray disc player
  • The Ritz-Carlton signature linens and featherbeds
  • Electronic room control touch panels for controlling lighting, air conditioning, curtains and music/alarm clock preferences
  • Walk-in closet
  • High speed wireless and wired Internet access
  • Computer and fax hook-ups and dataport
  • iPod docking stations
  • In-room safe
  • Fully stocked honor bar

If you were tempted to touch the textured surfaces on your way to the room, now’s your chance to indulge in a sensory treat. The multi-textured theme carries on to the rooms, with simple wood furniture accented by geometric print carpet, pillows and throws. Standing wood murals representing old Shanghai are positioned perfectly behind modern chairs or love seats. The pièce de résistance of each bedroom, however, is the bathroom.

%Gallery-94485%The Bathrooms

Each guest room bathroom features a designer copper bath tub built for two, set against a dark mirrored wall and hidden by a thin curtain. While you can grab a quick shower before a day of touring or business, the decadent tubs are worthy of at least one soak during your stay. Each bathroom features premium bath essentials and TV screens (so you can relax while catching up on the day’s events), a lighted makeup mirror, hair dryer and terry robes.

The Restaurants

In addition to the Lobby Lounge and Scena Italian restaurant on the 52nd floor, the hotel also offers Jin Xuan, Cantonese traditional cuisine on level 53. There’s also a cigar lounge, exclusive champagne library, walk-in wine cellar and outdoor seating with grill. On the 58th floor, guests can take in the mesmerizing views or cuddle up near the fire at Flair Rooftop Restaurant and Bar (read on for more on Flair).

The Spa

Located on the 55th floor, the hotel’s spa will offer 11 treatments, and includes a VIP and doubles suite. The treatments range from standard massages to centuries-old healing techniques and relaxation methods. Even if you don’t opt for a treatment, it’s worth taking advantage of the spa’s serenity.

Designed wall-to-wall in shell and marble, the interior of the spa is a world away from the guestrooms. The white and gold walls set a tranquil mood – the most inviting of which is the seashell-shaped shower, which is the perfect hideaway for anyone needing a few moments of peace. A 24-hour fitness studio is adjacent to the spa for those wanting a work-out.

The Thrill

The top floor of the hotel in the IFC Tower is Flair Rooftop Restaurant and Bar. Located on the 58th level, the outside terrace is unequivocally the grande dame of this 58-story prize. On the inside, a restaurant and lounge area dressed in dark lights is accentuated by a fireplace and wine bar. The smaller upper level offers seating and sofas for a more intimate setting, while the main floor is perfect for groups. Take two steps past the bar through the sliding glass doors and you’ll enter an entirely other world.

The outdoor terrace is poised to become, in my opinion, one of the best rooftop bars in the world. As you walk toward the bar you’re surrounded by tall trees and ivy lit through soft lighting set inside the pathway. The white and taupe sofas in wicker and bamboo provide an elegant touch to an outdoor affair. Electric candles provide the ambiance on a dark night and in the midst of the fog, which was the scene on the night I was there, there’s a certain mystery in the air. You can’t see out or over the terrace, but you know somewhere past the dense condensation that hovers there is an entire city buzzing around you.

I settled back into my chair and sipped my Merlot as I watched the fog move around the bar. Even with a slight fear of heights, I felt perfectly content on top of the world. Just as I came to grip with my senses and the reality of sitting in the clouds, the fog started to dissipate and the iconic Pearl Tower glowed in the distance. For a few seconds the city’s color and life showed through, and then, just as quickly, the fog reappeared – a sign, I suspected, that my journey in the clouds wasn’t quite over.

The Bottom Line

Simply put: the hotel will take your breath away. The Ritz-Carlton has spent the past few years redefining its brand to appeal to modern travelers who appreciate beauty and true comfort; the newest member of the family, The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, is a proud representation of Shanghai culture and modern luxuries. If you’re visiting Shanghai as a tourist, on business, or for the World Expo, this hotel isn’t to be missed.

Eternal returns in springtime Paris

Natives will tell you that Paris has everything necessary for the pursuit of happiness, including songbirds. The intensity and frequency of birdsong signals the end of winter, if not the arrival of spring. Spring comes and goes, hesitating on the threshold. That’s why accordions are Paris’ reliable bellweather. Their wheezing is a sure sign people are back outdoors filling cafés, or draping themselves over the double-backed park benches, staring at buds.

The other day the usual spring suspects began squeezing their red-and-white accordions in the square under our bedroom windows. Listening to them, I just happened to open an email and click a link to the biggest panoramic photo ever taken, “Paris 26 Giga Pixels“, composed of 2,346 individual shots stitched together.

Up came Paris, from the belltower of Saint Sulpice. And up came the accordion waltz from the cult movie “Amélie Poulain.” I closed my eyes. The soundtrack is a masterpiece of nostalgia. Baguettes and berets, Edith Piaf’s raucous croonings, and Robert Doisneau’s black-and-white photos floated above Montmartre painted by Utrillo and Modigliani, the merry-go-round spinning below Sacré Coeur.

The music distills the bittersweet essence of a certain Paris. It’s a Paris much of the world — and many Parisians — desire, a magical city of dreams and memories and merry-go-rounds, abstracted from the globalized, recessionary nitty-gritty of today.I opened my eyes. On screen were the domes and Gothic towers, the neoclassical palaces, the gardens and 19th-Century merry-go-rounds of my home of the last quarter-century. The digital technology is state-of-the-art, the definition astonishingly high. But the high tech didn’t diminish the nostalgic punch.

Carouseling on Amélie’s waltz, clicking, dragging or scrolling, the merry-go-round of images sped up, zooming in and out, unapologetically plucking at heart-strings. The effect was instantaneous and systemic. I reconsidered Paris from a rooftop perspective, eager to see what had changed. I flew to the places I’ve lived and worked in. So much seemed the same, at least outwardly. Better, the panoramic view pushed me out to climb a real tower, revisit Paris, and be an aimless wanderer in spring all over again.

Because the belltower of Saint-Sulpice isn’t accessible, I headed to the Panthéon. En route at arcaded Place des Vosges, the Internauts used free WiFi, blissfully oblivious to the 17th-century bricks and stones. Across the Seine, a carousel spun near giant sycamores in the Jardin des Plantes, Louis XIII’s lush botanical garden. To synthesized calliope music, shrieking todlers rode back in time to the days of their grandparents.

The Panthéon rises atop Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, an awkward imitation of the real Pantheon in Rome . A toothy guard from a former French colony informed me gleefully that the panoramic terrace wouldn’t reopen for another week. In the meantime, there was Foucault’s famous pendulum, and the tombs of France ‘s great and good.

Directly beneath the dome, the pendulum dangled from a wire over 200 feet long. Back and forth it swung in the damp gloom, demonstrating the rotation of the Earth, marking the seconds, minutes, hours and days. It was not the pendulum moving forward, but we the public, the church, the city, the Earth, moving around it.

Mesmerized, it seemed to me that the pendulum’s bob was Paris, marking timelessness, while the rest of the universe spun around. Paris was as eternal as Rome, the Eternal City. The real Paris, of the mind, did not exist and could never age.

By comparison, the vaulted tombs of the country’s great men — and one woman, Marie Curie — left me chilled, an exercise in mildewy propaganda. Rome’s Pantheon, dedicated to the pagan gods, was saved by being consecrated as a church. In Paris, a church was saved from Revolutionary vandalism by becoming a temple to the Republic.

The cult of the Republic may once have been a fine thing. It seems less so now, when France’s anti-immigrant policies and reactionary reinterpretations of liberty, equality and fraternity clash with a spinning Earth of many hues and infinite diversity. In the gift shop a visitor wondered why French patriot Léon Gambetta’s heart was in an urn. The attendant replied that a body part was needed. Clearly the cult of relics had not ended with the Revolution, the visitor remarked, buying a mug emblazoned with “Vive la République.”

Down the street in the Luxembourg Gardens, the merry-go-round turned dreamily. Nearby, children rode ponies. Gaggles of pimply teens fiddled with hand-held devices as others devoured obsolete printed matter. Everyone smoked, even the tennis players.

The pendulum swings, the Earth and the merry-go-rounds spin. Paris stays the same.

Skipping Montparnasse, I aimed for the Eiffel Tower, last experienced by me in 1976. Bookstores in the notoriously literate 6th and 7th arrondissements displayed the sensation of late-winter, La Paresse et l’oubli, a novel by 29-year-old David Rochefort. The title means “sloth and oblivion” or perhaps “laziness and forgetfulness.” The cover is wrapped by a banner promising “Les battailes perdues de la vie” — life’s lost battles.

How someone not yet 30 could know such things, be compared to Flaubert and Balzac, dead for 150 years, and how such a clear-eyed and pessimistic oeuvre could be published and embraced by all in a world of corporate sameness, seem unanswerable questions to non-Parisians. The other big literary noise, this one written with tongue firmly in cheek: Mai 1958: Le Retour du Général de Gaulle. Did he ever go away?

At the Eiffel Tower’s base the requisite merry-go-round wheezed. Accordionists serenaded the waiting lines. Why not hang Foucault’s Pendulum here, I wondered?

Riding up, I calculated the number of merry-go-rounds in Paris. There are dozens. Dozens. But there are many more bookstores selling difficult novels. Both are subsidized, like public transit, health care, and much else. Culture is propped up at both ends of the spectrum. French movies are too. And the Eiffel Tower.

Might that help explain Paris’ abiding popularity even among lovers of free enterprise?

Amélie’s waltz replayed in my mind’s ear as I gazed down at 17 centuries’ worth of cityscape, from the Roman baths at Cluny, to the National Library and other remarkable monstrosities of the 1980s and ’90s. The messy reality of Paris glimpsed from above seemed immeasurably more satisfying than Paris 26 Giga Pixels.

Amid the jumble below I spied two more merry-go-rounds, one in the Tuileries and one in front of City Hall, my next destinations. As I walked through the Tuileries, the same children rode the same ponies. Had they trotted over from the Luxembourg or was I hallucinating?

Beyond the merry-go-round fronting City Hall’s neo-Renaissance façade, the line to enter “Izis: Paris des Rêves,” a photo exhibition, was as long as the lines at the Eiffel Tower. ” Paris through a Dreamer’s Lens” is the French Dream, the European Paradise as dreamed by Izraël Biderman, better known as Izis. A Lithuanian Jew determined to escape persecution, Izis wound up in the City of Light, soon dimmed and Occupied. Like other Jews and undesirables, Izis was hunted by Nazis aided by zealous Frenchmen. But he kept loving Paris. It belonged to him and the world, not his persecutors.

Like those of Doisneau or Brassai or Cartier-Bresson, Izis’s black-and-white photos capture the allure, the sleaze, the enchantingly bleak Paris of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. Everyone smokes, especially the Résistance fighters. Everyone dresses in the shades of gray that are fashionable again today. One haunting, wall-sized image shows a merry-go-round in the Tuileries, its battered horses standing out against the snow.

On the sidewalk outside City Hall an outdoor exhibition currently hails 150 years of immigration to Paris. As I walked home past it I thought of Izis, Brassai, Chagall, Picasso, Piaf, Yves Montand and others. Many others. I thought of Chopin, a Pole, and how Paris is celebrating his 200th birthday, as if he were a native son. The cafés I looked into were staffed by immigrants. The restaurants, museums, monuments and City Hall were too. Even the accordionists in the square beneath our windows are immigrants. And so am I.

The pendulum swings, the accordions play, people, politicians and recessions come and go on an ever-spinning merry-go-round. Paris remains.

David Downie is an American writer and journalist based in Paris. He is the author of nine books, including Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Light and Paris City of Night. He has written for Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Town & Country Travel, Departures, Travel + Leisure,, and His website is

Gadling TV’s Travel Talk 003: Black Boxes, Body Scanners, Vegas, Wedding Bells, & Sushi done right!

Gadling TV’s Travel Talk, episode 3 – Click above to watch video after the jump

We’re back! And this time we’ve brought you a show straight from the Vegas strip.

In this week’s episode – we discuss a new ban on Indian rail rooftop travel, monitoring pilot’s conversations in the cockpit, where the first body scanners will appear in the United States, and a little history behind America’s favorite playground.

Bruce has packing tips for one of the most remote destinations in the West; Aaron will show you the right way to prepare sushi, and only one of us ends up getting married in Vegas; stay tuned to find out who…

If you have any questions or comments about Travel Talk, you can email us at talk AT gadling DOT com.

Subscribe via iTunes:
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Vegas Adventure Weddings (Vegas Chapel)
Elvis In A Flash (Chapel Priest)

Chaiyya Chaiyya (Bollywood Train Music Video)
Dubai Aquarium Leak

Hosts: Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Murphy-Crews, Drew Mylrea
Special guest: Bruce!, Onja, & Elvis Presley.

Produced, Edited, and Directed by: Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Murphy-Crews, Drew Mylrea
Special thanks: Vegas Adventure Weddings, Brad Collin (as Elvis Presley), Virgin America & the Fly Girls.

Music by:
Electric Touch
“Sounds from the Underground”
courtesy of musicalley

Arlin Godwin
“Boy Seventeen”
courtesy of musicalley

Poll of the Week!


Photo of the Day (10.26.08)

Imagine drawing back the shutters in the morning and gazing out onto the rooftops of a picturesque medieval village like this one. Flickr user arex was fortunate enough to have just such a chance, taking this photo in the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany. I particularly like the perspective – the A-frame rooftoop in the foreground offers some interesting architectural detail while also adding a little color from the flower box. Farther in the background is an eye-catching cluster of rooftop peaks and valleys, culminating in the spires of a cathedral off in the distance. Pretty neat.

Have you taken any photos of rooftop vistas in quaint Bavarian villages? Or maybe a cityscape in Birmingham, Alabama? Add them to our Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick it as our Photo of the Day.